The world premiere of Toyota’s rally-inspired GR Yaris has revealed a pure performance car born from Toyota’s title-winning experience in the World Rally Championship (WRC). Forged from success in the heat of competition, the Toyota GR Yaris brings motorsport technology and design directly to the world of the road car.
Powered by a new 200kW/370Nm1 three-cylinder turbocharged engine, the GR Yaris benefits from the design and engineering skills of TOYOTA GAZOO Racing (TGR) and Tommi Mäkinen Racing, Toyota’s partner in the WRC.
As well as serving as the official homologation model for development of the next Yaris WRC car, GR Yaris also has all the attributes required for owners looking to compete successfully in local rally competitions. Every aspect of the car has a performance focus: an all-new platform and engine, new suspension, lightweight construction, aerodynamic styling and a new GR-FOUR permanent all-wheel-drive (AWD) system.
With high power and low weight, it has all the credentials for competition success, and for delivering exhilarating performance as a super-hot hatch for the road.
In a striking departure from the standard model, the GR Yaris has a three-door body that is lower and wider with dramatic angles, enlarged 18-inch wheels, extended wheel arches, an imposing front air intake, specially designed brakes with red callipers, and twin exhaust tips.
Summarised as a ‘rally car for the road’, 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.
Presenting the GR Yaris at the 2020 Tokyo Auto Salon, GAZOO Racing President Shigeki Tomoyama said TGR is committed to using motorsport to refine its know-how and its personnel, with the aim of launching world-class production sports cars.
“While the new GR Supra is a sports car developed through track racing, the GR Yaris has been devised through our participation in rallies – something that many of our fans have been waiting for,” Mr. Tomoyama said.
GR Yaris is the second pure sports-car model to be launched globally by TGR, following last year’s return of the legendary Toyota GR Supra.
The new GR Yaris is Toyota’s first genuine AWD sports car and its first homologation model for WRC competition since the end of production of the Celica GT-FOUR in 1999.
Across two generations and three models, the Celica GT-FOUR featured in Toyota’s most successful WRC campaigns, a golden age of rallying that brought the company 30 rally victories, four drivers’ championship titles and one manufacturers’ championship. In a reference to its illustrious predecessor and its AWD technology, the GR Yaris features a GR-FOUR logo on its tailgate.
As a homologation model, the GR Yaris will support the development of a new competition car for the TGR World Rally Team’s WRC campaign. Since re-joining the championship in 2017, Toyota won the manufacturers’ championship in 2018 and, with Ott Tänak, the drivers’ championship in 2019.
The WRC-skilled team of designers and engineers at Tommi Mäkinen Racing focused on perfecting the aerodynamics, weight distribution and light weight of the new car – the three qualities essential to achieving the best performance and drivability.
A lower roofline improved the car’s ability to cut through the air, while positioning the new 1.6 turbo engine further back towards the centre of the car and locating the battery in the boot helped produce a better chassis balance for improved handling, stability and responsiveness.
The three-door body shell is made from lightweight materials including carbon-fibre polymer and aluminium, to deliver an impressive power-to-weight ratio.
The new platform allows for a wider rear track and new double-wishbone rear suspension system. The team also devised reinforcements beneath the side members to ensure the suspension’s performance potential can be realised.
To ensure the plans worked in practice, the GR Yaris was put to the test by professional race and rally drivers during the development program.
Compared with the all-new Yaris range, the GR Yaris has a unique design with a three-door body and a roof lowered by 91mm, creating a coupe silhouette. Frameless doors add to the coupe look. At the front the grille design and spoiler express the car’s authentic GR status, while at the rear the wide tread and muscular wings accommodate 18-inch alloy wheels.
All-new 1.6-litre Turbo Engine
The GR Yaris engine is an all-new, three-cylinder turbocharged unit that benefits from motorsport technologies to maximise performance, including multi-oil jet piston cooling, large-diameter exhaust valves and a part-machined intake port. Displacing 1,618 cm3, it produces a maximum 200kW and 370Nm of torque.
Compact and lightweight, the DOHC 12-valve engine features a single-scroll ball-bearing turbo and is matched to a six-speed manual transmission, engineered to accommodate high torque levels.
Achieving a strong power-to-weight ratio was a key objective to help meet the GR Yaris’ performance targets. The body shell is constructed predominantly from light-weight materials, including a new carbon-fibre polymer for the roof that can be compression moulded. Aluminium is used for the bonnet, doors and tailgate.
As a result, the GR Yaris has the power of a C-segment performance hatch but the weight of a B-segment machine (kerb weight 1,280 kg). Its power-to-weight ratio of 156kW/tonne helps deliver 0-100 km/h acceleration in less than 5.5 seconds and an electronically limited top speed of 230 km/h.
GR-FOUR: New All-Wheel-Drive System
GR Yaris performance is supported by a new GR-FOUR AWD system designed to optimise drive power to each wheel, while also being simple and lightweight. The distribution of torque between the front and rear axles is governed by a high-response coupling.
The ingenious system uses slightly different gear ratios for the front and rear axles and 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 can adjust the system’s performance to suit their preference or the driving situation using an AWD mode dial switch. In normal mode, the base front/rear torque distribution is 60:40; in Sport mode the balance shifts to the rear, with 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.
Dedicated Platform and Suspension
The GR Yaris has a new, dedicated platform that combines the front end of Toyota’s GA-B platform – debuting in the all new Yaris model in 2020 – with the rear of the GA-C platform. This allows for a new suspension design and accommodation of the GR-FOUR AWD system, while also contributing to the car’s excellent stability and handling.
Where the standard new Yaris uses a torsion beam rear suspension, the GR Yaris has a double wishbone set-up, with every element optimised for performance. A MacPherson strut system is used at the front.
Performance Braking System
The performance braking system features large 356 mm grooved front discs with four-pot callipers, engineered to cope with rigorous demands of high-speed track and special stage driving with high-level heat capacity.
New GR Production Centre at Motomachi
To help meet its performance goals for the GR Yaris, Toyota has established a new production facility at its Motomachi factory with a line dedicated to manufacturing GR sports cars. Instead of the traditional conveyor system, the body and assembly lines comprise several different cells connected by automatic guided vehicles.
Production of each vehicle calls for a large number of manual processes, for which Toyota utilises a specialist team of skilled workers. The factory design and the talents of the workforce allow for high-precision assembly of highly rigid vehicle bodies to levels that are hard to achieve on standard production lines.
With its new manufacturing methods, the GR facility is capable of handling multi-type, small-volume production.
The Yaris GR-FOUR is currently under study for local introduction – following the global rollout in 2020. Further detail will be communicated in due course.