Toyota has just pulled the covers off the eagerly awaited Gazoo Racing Yaris. The brand introduced the fourth-gen Yaris not too long ago but this is the one most were waiting to see and the headline speaks for itself – it’s possibly the most powerful production 3-cylinder in the world.
Though it has to be said, while previous generations of the Yaris weren’t really movers and shakers, it had the makings of being what the boys from old Top Gear might’ve labeled as “cheap and cheerful”. This new pint-sized pocket rocket on the other hand, might not be cheap (no official prices have been announced yet) but it certainly appears to be cheerful.
It’s a pure performance car and a homologation model for the World Rally Championship. It is Toyota’s first genuine all-wheel drive car since the end of the production of the Celica GT-FOUR in 1999.
The GR Yaris has all the right sports car ingredients such as the force-inducted powerplant mated to a stick shifter, AWD and motorsport tech. The mill under the bonnet measures 1.6-litres over three-cylinders and features a single-scroll ball-bearing turbocharger. The dual overhead cam engine gets a semi-machined intake port, large-diametre exhaust valves and multi-jet piston cooling. The result, a hatchback that produces 192kW and 360Nm.
Laying that power onto the black top is a job for GR-FOUR, which is to say, an optimised light-weight four-wheel drive system. The brand says – in theory – the system “allows for a range of 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 four-wheel drive can be adjusted to suit the situation via mode dial. In normal mode, base front/rear torque distribution is 60:40. That figures changes to 70:30 when in Sports mode while Track sets it to 50:50. However in each mode, the “torque balance will be automatically adjusted depending on the drivers input, vehicle behaviour and road or track conditions” says the brand.
The company says the GR Yaris sits on a hybrid platform whereby the front end is a TNGA-B while the rear is TNGA-C architecture. This allows for a new suspension design and their trick all-wheel drive system to be mounted. While the standard Yaris uses a torsion beam rear suspension, the GR has a double wishbone set-up. MacPherson struts are used up front. The 1,280kg hot hatchback is stopped by a pair of 356mm grooved rotors on the front axle and is squeezed on by four-piston callipers.
However, for those who think the new GR Yaris could be even more track focused, fret not. Toyota will be offering the hot Yaris with the optional Circuit Pack which equips the car with a Torsen limited-slip differential on both axles, performance suspension and 18-inch forged alloy wheels wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport 4S rubbers.
Toyota says the GR Yaris will be produced at its new Motomachi factory with a line dedicated to building GR sports cars. Interestingly, the brand says that much of the Yaris will involve manual production processes. That said, they claim the “GR facility is capable of handling multi-type, small-volume production without compromising productivity.”