GALLERY: Toyota GR Yaris – over 100 live pics of the ‘Made for WRC’ 261 PS, 6MT, AWD, RM299k hot hatch

Last week was a huge one for UMW Toyota Motor. Not only did it reveal the Vios facelift and Yaris facelift, the local Toyota distributor also unveiled the homegrown Vios GR-S sporty variant and launched the 2021 season of the Toyota Gazoo Racing Festival, which includes the Toyota Vios Challenge one-make race.

UPDATE: The GR Yaris is now priced at RM286,896 on-the-road without insurance, inclusive of the sales tax exemption that will be valid till June 30, 2021.

That’s already a fair bit to unwrap in one day, but we haven’t even mentioned the headlining act – the Toyota GR Yaris. The “made for WRC” hot hatch reaches our shores less than a year from its world debut at this year’s Tokyo Auto Salon. We were there to witness Akio Toyoda pull the wraps off the GR Yaris, in what felt like years ago although it was in actually in 2020. Here’s the car now, in Shah Alam.

Less than 200 units will be made available locally, priced at RM299,000 on-the-road without insurance. For that, you get the top-of-the-line Performance Pack which, as the name suggests, adds a whole host of performance-enhancing goodies – more on this later.

GALLERY: Toyota GR Yaris – over 100 live pics of the ‘Made for WRC’ 261 PS, 6MT, AWD, RM299k hot hatch

For a limited time, buyers will also receive an Early Bird Package that includes a helmet bag, a GR Yaris scale model and a GR Yaris Driving Experience next year. The three available colours are Platinum White Pearl, Emotional Red II and Precious Black. It’s strange to call a three hundred grand car ‘cheap’, but we expected a higher sticker price given that the GR Yaris is priced above the Honda Civic Type R in some markets. It’s the equivalent of RM364k in Thailand.

We’ve already shared with you live in-and-out galleries of all the new models from last week; now here’s a detailed look at the GR Yaris. This is a homologation special of sorts, enabling Toyota’s World Rally Championship (WRC) team to bake in some crucial hardpoints for the what was supposed to be next year’s rally challenger. That car has been shelved due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the GR Yaris is here to wow.

The European and Japanese Yaris is five-door-only, so Toyota created the GR Yaris’ three-door body to be a better base point for the WRC car. The bespoke body is 45 mm lower than the regular Yaris, but the trailing edge of the roof is a whopping 95 mm lower, allowing for the fitment of a larger and more efficient rear wing on the rally machine.

Swelled fender flares give the car a wide stance and add 60 mm in actual width. The huge lower grille has vertical air intakes on either side to cool the brakes. At the rear, there’s a large diffuser and twin exhaust pipes. The front splitter, bumper corner lips, mostly flat underfloor and rear spoiler help increase downforce, and reduce drag.

The dashboard is mostly normal (Euro) Yaris but with a few changes. The 4.2-inch multi-info display gets a screen that shows the workings of the all-wheel-drive system, which can be manipulated using the rotary controller ahead of the gear lever. Speaking of which, the manual shifter has been raised by 50 mm, putting it closer to the driver’s reach and allowing for faster shifts.

Also on are sports seats with increased cushion padding and thinner backs, a three-spoke GR steering wheel and specially-positioned sports pedals. The GR Yaris’ meagre boot volume of 174 litres is not an important point for such a car, but capacity can be increased with 60:40 split-folding rear seats.

GALLERY: Toyota GR Yaris – over 100 live pics of the ‘Made for WRC’ 261 PS, 6MT, AWD, RM299k hot hatch

Under the hood is a similarly bespoke engine. The G16E-GTS 1.6 litre turbocharged three-cylinder is touted as both the largest and most powerful three-cylinder in production, as well as the smallest and lightest 1.6 litre turbo around. It comes with D-4S port and direct injection, as well as a single-scroll turbo integrated with the exhaust manifold.

Like Thailand, our market gets the European-spec engine that produces 261 PS at 6,500 rpm and 360 Nm of torque from 3,000 to 4,600 rpm – that’s 11 PS and 10 Nm down on the JDM car, but it still does 0-100 km/h in 5.5 seconds, with a six-speed manual gearbox (rev-matching function available). Top speed is electronically limited to 230 km/h.

To slow down, four-piston front stoppers clamp on 356 mm discs (bigger than the Supra’s), while the two-piston rear callipers are matched to 297 mm discs. The callipers are in red, and have GR badging.

The GR-Four all-wheel-drive system has been developed specifically for this car. Toyota’s first such system in 20 years ditches the heavy centre differential in favour of a multi-plate clutch in the rear differential to distribute torque to the front and rear wheels.

Choose from three different settings. In Normal mode, the car sends around 60% of drive to the front wheels and 40% to the rear, whereas Sport mode has a 30:70 split to add some RWD handling characteristics. Track mode dials it back to 50:50 for maximum performance. The system also comes with a rear-axle disconnect function that allows drivers to yank the (manual) handbrake to slide into a corner.

This AWD system is the reason why Toyota combined platforms for the GR Yaris. The front end retains the same GA-B underpinnings as the standard Yaris, but the rear end uses the C variant from the Corolla and C-HR instead. This allows the fitment of rear double wishbones, making space for the differential and half shafts.

The Performance Pack goodies include Torsen limited-slip differentials at the front and rear to shuffle torque from side to side, lightweight 18-inch BBS 10-spoke forged alloys and Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres, along with stiffer springs and anti-roll bars, retuned dampers and tweaked power steering settings. With all that hardware, the GR Yaris tips the scales at a decent 1,280 kg, helped by a standard CFRP roof and aluminium for the doors, tailgate and bonnet.

However, this is no stripped-out trackday hero, but a hot hatch will all the kit expected from a modern daily runner. Standard equipment includes LED headlights, daytime running lights, fog lights and taillights, keyless entry, push-button start, dual-zone auto air con, a head-up display, front dashcam, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, 7.0-inch touchscreen audio with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, reverse camera and six speakers.

There’s even the full Toyota Safety Sense suite of driver assist features. Included are autonomous emergency braking with oncoming vehicle detection, daytime cyclist detection and nighttime pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, lane centring assist, lane keeping assist and automatic high beam. Six airbags and stability control, too. Quite some car.

GALLERY: 2021 Toyota GR Yaris

GALLERY: 2021 Toyota GR Yaris official images