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The Thrilling Toyota GR Yaris: Giant-Slaying Hot Hatch

toyota gr yaris
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The Thrilling Toyota GR Yaris: Giant-Slaying Hot Hatch

In a world dominated by high-powered sport sedans, Toyota made waves by introducing an unexpected new performance car – the GR Yaris hot hatch. This rally-bred pocket rocket packages a fierce powertrain into a featherweight body. The brilliant blend of power and agility enables the GR Yaris to punch far above its weight class. On both road and track, drivers can experience the same pulse-pounding performance that Toyota’s rally racers enjoy.

Keep reading as we explore what gives the game-changing Toyota GR Yaris its giant-slaying character. Discover how this all-new hot hatch signals Toyota’s intent to take on more established performance brands.

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Origins from WRC Racing DNA

World Rally Championship (WRC) racing runs deeply within Toyota’s veins. From the famous Celicas of the 1990s to today’s Yaris-based prototypes, Toyota remained committed even during a long absence from the sport. When Toyota returned to top-flight WRC racing in 2017, they arrived ready to win. Just two years later, Ott Tänak delivered a long-awaited manufacturer’s championship.

This return to rallying also sparked increased road car development. Racing improves the breed, as they say. Lessons and innovations from the rally team’s Yaris-based race cars made their way into Toyota’s production cars. The most extreme example emerged as the limited-production GR Yaris hot hatch in 2020.

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Purpose-Built Performance Powerplant

At the GR Yaris’ heart lies a specially-developed 1.6L turbocharged 3-cylinder engine putting out an impressive 257HP. The G16E-GTS motor packs a serious punch thanks to components drawn straight from Toyota Gazoo Racing’s motorsports program. A large single scroll turbo, multi-oil jet piston cooling, VVT adjustments, and more translate hard-earned knowledge into real road performance.

Further extensive modifications create the most powerful 3-cylinder currently in production worldwide. Engine components are also uniquely paired with a 6-speed manual transmission engineered by Toyota specifically for performance duty. Channeling this high-strung powerplant rearward gives the GR Yaris sports car-like handling plus traction for massive grip. Sprinting 0-60MPH in under 5.0 seconds is supercar quick, but the GR Yaris delivers so much more.

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Structure and Design Maximizing Agility

Toyota constructed the GR Yaris as a dedicated performance model rather than simply tuning up an economy hatchback. Engineers developed an all-new lightweight platform and body from the ground up. Strategic use of aluminum and carbon fiber containing weight while optimizing weight distribution. At just over 2,800 lbs, the GR Yaris weighs far less than traditional all-wheel drive hot hatches. Less heft paired to all-wheel drive traction equates to unbelievable maneuverability.

The GR Yaris chassis also incorporates special components taken directly from the World Rally Championship Yaris. These parts include bespoke hub carriers and stabilizer bars granting sharper turn-in reflexes. Compared to the regular Yaris, GR engineers substantially increased track width as well for a wider, lower stance. Beefy 18” wheels in each corner better translate engine power into forward motion. Brakes also received similar competition-spec upgrades to handle repeated hard use. Topped off with functional aerodynamic add-ons, the GR Yaris’s rally design DNA shine through brightly.

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Thrilling Performance Experience

On the road or track, few cars can replicate the interactive experience behind the wheel of Toyota’s hottest hot hatch. The high-performance G16E engine dares drivers to stretch every gear while delivering a signature triple-cylinder warble listeners won’t soon forget. Manual gear changes snap through quickly in harmony with excellent throttle response. Point the nose toward a corner and the GR Yaris dives in eagerly, faithfully following steering inputs with tenacity. There’s no torque steer to wrestle against thanks all-paw traction either. This car begs to pushed hard, as demonstrated by development driver Keiichi Tsuchiya drifting effortlessly through every turn on Fuji Speedway at full throttle.

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In a segment stacked with sporting front-drive and clumsy all-wheel drive alternatives, none combine such immediacy and capabilities like the GR Yaris. Giant-slaying agility blended wonderfully with clenched fist straight-line performance means this Yaris punches far beyond its weight. It stands alone as the ultimate expression of Toyota’s sporting capabilities on four wheels. Any performance enthusiast bored with clinical computer-controlled competition needs to sample Toyota’s analogue thrill ride. For that pure adrenaline rush, nothing tops the GR Yaris masterclass in giant slaying.

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