Toyota’s city car, the Yaris, has been a solid performer for the Japanese company for some time. For 2020, Toyota has shrugged off the cardigan and given the petite little thing a heart and soul transplant. Called the Yaris GR (Gazoo Racing), it’s due mid 2020 for Australia. The basis for the Yaris GR comes from Toyota’s extensive rallying history, and there’s been substantial input from Gazoo Racing and Tommi Mäkinen Racing, meaning the GR Yaris is to be the homologation model of its next WRC racer.Power is from a three cylinder engine, complete with single scroll turbo. 192kW and 360Nm are the figures quoted, with capacity a huge (for a three potter) 1.6L. Power goes to all four corners via a six speed manual, making it the first Toyota non SUV/4WD to feature all paws being driven since the Celica GT-40 of twenty years ago. A zero to one hundred time is around 5.5 seconds, and top speed is a very decent 230kph.The engine will feature piston cooling via oil jets and the exhaust valves are larger than normal to provide better breathing. A restyled body not only provides better aero but a lighter structure, meaning a power to weight ratio of 6.7kg/kilowatt from the 1,280kg (dry) weight. That restyling features larger wheel arches to cope with the 18 inch diameter alloys that will be standard. They’ll wrap 356mm vented brake discs. Dimensions are 3,995mm for length, 1,805mm in width, and 1,465mm in height. The wheelbase is a massive, for the overall size, 2,558mm. The front track is slightly narrower than the rear, at 1,530mm v 1,560mm.A 91mm lower roofline helps the Yaris GR slice through the air more effectively, whilst the engine has been moved rearwards for a better weight distribution. Compression moulded carbon-fibre polymer and aluminuim paneling (bonnet, doors, tailgate) for the three door shape are the main contributors to the lower mass. Frameless doors help too, and add a more aggressive look to the profile. Underneath there is a new platform (Toyota’s melded the GA-8 front and GA-C rear) which allows for a wider rear track and new double-wishbone rear suspension system. The development team responsible for the Yaris GR also devised reinforcements beneath the side members to ensure the suspension’s performance potential can be realised.Performance for the drive hasn’t been overlooked. Being an all wheel drive hatch, the driveline needs something to help the front and rear work together. Toyota have a “high response coupling” that joins the two but there’s a twist in the twist. This ingenious system uses slightly different gear ratios for the front and rear axles, which are mounted on double wishbone, not torsion beam, suspension components, which allows for a theoretical range of front/rear torque balance from 100:0 (full front-wheel drive) to 0:100 (full rear-wheel drive). This flexibility gives a performance advantage over AWD on-demand systems that use twin-coupling or permanent AWD systems with a centre differential. The GR FOUR system is also considerably lighter in weight.The driver has full control over the way the drive system works. An AWD mode dial switch allows: normal mode with the base front/rear torque distribution is at 60:40; in Sport mode the balance shifts more to the rear with a 30:70 distribution to achieve a “fun-to-drive” quality on winding roads and circuits; and in Track mode the base setting is 50:50 for fast, competitive driving on circuits or special stages. In each mode, the torque balance will automatically adjust in response to the driver’s inputs, vehicle behaviour and road or track conditions.Toyota Australia’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Sean Hanley, said the GR Yaris is the latest in Toyota’s rich heritage of sports cars that include the Toyota 800, 2000GT, Celica, Supra, Corolla AE86, MR2 and 86. “The GR Yaris is an exciting well-rounded vehicle that exemplifies Toyota’s commitment to producing ever-better cars, offering compelling performance that will appeal to a broad range of enthusiasts. It is a rally car for the road that pushes vehicle performance to the limit and will enhance the image of the Toyota and Yaris brands.” he said.Pricing for Australia is yet to be finalised.
(Pictures courtesy of Toyota Australia and Motor Magazine.)