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Toyota GR Yaris 1.6T Rovanpera 3dr AWD

  • Manual
  • Petrol
  • 3 door hatchback
  • 198 g/km CO2
  • 198 g/km CO2 emissions
  • 280 bhp Engine power

Ten Second Review

Ever wondered what a Toyota Yaris might be like with over 275 braked horses beneath the bonnet? No, we hadn't either. But Toyota has made one anyway, this improved version of the wild GR Yaris. It's a rather unique confection....

Background

This car has been actually rather significant. Launched back in 2021, it was the first true performance model that had been developed entirely in-house by Toyota in more than 20 years. We'd had quick models from the brand previous to this car, but only with outside assistance; the GT86 (developed with Subaru) and the GR Supra (co-created with BMW). The GR Yaris in contrast, was entirely the work of Toyota's Gazoo Racing performance division, hence the 'GR' moniker. There had been a wild version of the previous generation Yaris too, the Yaris GRMN, but this replacement Gazoo Racing-engineered GR model turned out to be quite a bit more powerful, gained 4WD and was to be made in much greater numbers. Its purpose was to aid homologation of what back in 2021 was the next generation version of the Yaris World Rally Car, at the same time as boosting the image of then freshly launched fourth-generation Yaris supermini. Chief engineer Naohiko Saito couldn't believe his luck when Toyota asked him and his team to create a Yaris like no other. He did exactly that. Once production was well underway, Saito and his team got a chance to update this GR Yaris model and make it just a bit more focused. The result, launched in early 2024, is the car we look at here.

Driving Experience

Quite a lot's been done to the engineering of this improved GR Yaris. Including an evolution of the turbocharged three-cylinder engine to deliver even more power and torque. And the introduction of an optional brand-new eight-speed Gazoo Racing Direct Automatic Transmission, engineered for competition-fast gear changes. The 6-speed 'IMT' 'Intelligent Manual Transmission' stick shift though, will still be the choice of enthusiasts. Maximum power and torque figures have risen to from 257 to 276bhp and 390Nm. And the bespoke GR Yaris chassis has been further strengthened. Plus the suspension has also been adjusted for greater handling control and robust performance under high loads, with revised spring rates and a strengthened front shock absorber assembly. As previously, the regular Yaris model's basic torsion beam rear suspension is replaced by a more sophisticated double wishbone set-up. As before, the GR Yaris is a model engineered through participation in rallying. A car very much in the mould performance classics of the past like Subaru's Impreza WRX and the Mitsubishi Evo. The car continues to use Toyota's GR-FOUR electronically controlled, permanent all-wheel drive system. This features a multi-plate clutch delivering power to all four wheels via three pre-set torque distribution levels; 'Normal' has a 60:40-split front-to-rear; 'Sport' pushes nearly all the power to the back 30:70; and 'Track' has an equal 50:50-split. There are big brakes too - 356mm grooved front brake discs featuring 4-pot calipers. And a set of sticky tyres too. The 62mph sprint is about half a second faster than before (think around 5.1s) and the top speed is around 145mph.

Design and Build

Visual changes to this improved GR Yaris are subtle. At the front of the car, there's a new steel mesh for the lower grille. The side grille has a larger opening and lower bumper has a new split-construction that makes it easier and less costly to repair or replace. At the rear, an opening in the bottom edge of the lower garnish allows air from beneath the floor to escape, reducing drag, improving the car's manoeuvrability and stability and dispersing heat from the exhaust system. The fog and reversing lights have been relocated, moving from the lower bumper to be integrated in the rear combination lamps, reducing the risk of damage. Otherwise, the essential package remains the same: the GR Yaris is a three-door car and very much a model in its own right. Only the rear light clusters, antenna and door mirrors are carried over from the standard hatchback. Every element has been revised to achieve optimum downforces, aerodynamics and grip. Inside, significant changes have been made to give the driver's cockpit an authentically sporty feel with a design that's true to the 'driver first' principles that define the car. Controls that often need to be used in competition driving, such as intercooler spray, VSC-OFF and hazard lights have been moved closer to the driver so they can be reached quickly and easily when using a racing harness. On the passenger side, the tray in the instrument panel has been made larger so there is space for extra meters or a co-driver's monitor to be fitted. The driver's field of vision from the wheel has been improved by changing dropping the top edge of the instrument panel by 50mm, changing the position of the rear-view mirror and angling the control panel 15 degrees further towards the driver. The instrumentation includes a new 12.3-inch fully digital combimeter with two layout modes - normal and sport, the latter providing a sports performance-focused data display. The design is free of any superfluous ornamentation, so information can be instantly viewed and understood. On the automatic model, the read-out includes transmission oil temperature and a visual warning in addition to a sound alarm to alert the driver when engine revs are too high for downshifting. Precise changes have been made to give the driver the best posture. The seat has been lowered by 25mm and steering wheel adjusted accordingly. The shift direction has been changed to suit competition driving so the driver pushes the lever forward for downshifts and pulls back for upshifts - a detail promoted by Master Driver and Toyota Motor Corporation Chairman Akio Toyoda (alias “Morizo”).

Market and Model

At this car's original launch back in 2021, we wondered who might pay £30,000 or more for a Toyota Yaris. Well that asking price has been doubled by the top £60,000 versions of this enhanced model, the 'Ogier' and 'Rovanpera' Editions (named after the brand's successful works rally drivers). The standard version of this improved GR Yaris will require £44,250 from you - or £45,750 if you want the 8-speed Gazoo Racing Direct Automatic version. With only very limited numbers of this improved GR Yaris available this year, Toyota's UK importers are putting a tailor-made sales process in place to help ensure fairness. The company will be contacting existing GR Yaris owners and those who joined the waiting list for the car before the original model's sales closure in May 2022. These customers will then have the chance to enter a ballot for the opportunity to purchase a new GR Yaris from the UK's latest allocation. In the 'Ogier' and 'Rovanpera' Editions, the 'Gravel' and 'Track' AWD modes featured on the standard GR Yaris have been replaced with settings reprogrammed to reflect each driver's personal preferences for handling and performance. These special editions also include distinctive exterior and interior styling features. Both use the six-speed intelligent manual gearbox. Whatever GR Yaris you want, you'll be well aware that there are lots of super hot hatch rivals that cost substantially less. But none of them will feel as special or as race-ready as this wild Yaris.

Cost of Ownership

If you're buying this car, you won't give two hoots about fuel economy and CO2 emissions. For reference though, you'll probably be averaging about 25-30mpg in regular use - provided you don't continually floor the thing. And if you resist the temptation to do that on a regular basis, then you probably shouldn't have bought this car in the first place. The car is covered by the usual comprehensive five year/100,000 mile Toyota warranty. The CO2 figure is rated at 186g/km.

Summary

As before, there's nothing remotely sensible about this car - and that's probably why its small band of loyal buyers will like it. There are lots of super hot hatches that on paper seem a no-brainer choice over a pricey GR Yaris. But on the road, none of them will feel as raw or perhaps as exciting. This is as close as Toyota Gazoo Racing can get to bringing you a Yaris World Championship Rally car fettled for road use. More power to them.

  • Smart voice assist
  • 8 speakers
  • 8" Multimedia display
  • DAB Digital radio
  • JBL Premium Sound System
  • USB connector
  • Air intakes for brake cooling
  • Black door mirrors and handles
  • Black front bumper
  • Black rear spoiler
  • Body coloured rear bumper
  • Carbon fibre roof wrap
  • Door scuff plates
  • Dual exhaust pipes
  • GR functional matrix bumper
  • GR lower front grille
  • GRMN rear wing
  • Lower back and back door garnish
  • Metallic paint
  • Paint protection film
  • Piano black side air vents
  • Red wheel caliper
  • Rocker and door lower moulding
  • Shark fin antenna
  • 1 step hard deck board
  • 12v power outlet - front
  • 3 spoke leather sports steering wheel
  • Aluminium pedals
  • Black surround on gear shift console
  • Cloth upholstery
  • Electric luggage and back door release
  • Front bottle holders
  • Front console box
  • Front cup holders
  • Front overhead assist grips
  • Gear shift indicator
  • GR logo on steering wheel
  • Heated steering wheel
  • Leather gearshift knob
  • Luggage tray
  • Manual telescopic and tilting steering wheel
  • Multimedia switches on steering wheel
  • Rear console box
  • Red interior stitching
  • Rovanpera special design
  • Silver interior door handles
  • Slow opening on lower glovebox
  • Soft tonneau cover
  • Suede front door trim
  • 2 rear seatbelts
  • Driver and passenger front side airbags
  • Front and rear seatbelt reminder
  • Front passenger airbag on/off switch
  • Occupant detection
  • Rear passenger side airbag
  • Tyre pressure warning system
  • Anti-theft label
  • Immobiliser
  • Intrusion alarm
  • Smart digital key
  • Smart entry and start system
  • CO: 0.311
  • HC: 0.02
  • HC+NOx: N
  • Noise Level dB(A): 68
  • NOx: 0.01
  • Particles: 0.0005
  • Standard Euro Emissions: EURO 6
  • WLTP - CO2 (g/km) - Comb: 198
  • Camshaft: DOHC
  • Catalytic Convertor: True
  • CC: 1618
  • Compression Ratio: 10.5:1
  • Cylinder Layout: IN-LINE
  • Cylinders: 3
  • Cylinders - Bore (mm): 87.5
  • Cylinders - Stroke (mm): 89.7
  • Engine Code: G16E-GTS
  • Engine Layout: FRONT TRANSVERSE
  • Fuel Delivery: TURBO DIRECT INJECTION
  • Gears: 6 SPEED
  • Transmission: MANUAL
  • EC Directive 1999/100/EC Applies: False
  • Alternative Fuel Qualifying: False
  • Badge Engine CC: 1.6
  • Badge Power: 280
  • Based On ID: 105567
  • Coin Description: AWD
  • Coin Series: Rovanpera
  • Generation Mark: 4
  • Safety Concerns: False
  • Special Edition: True
  • Special Order: False
  • Vehicle Homologation Class: M1
  • Engine Power - BHP: 280
  • Engine Power - KW: 209
  • Engine Power - PS: False
  • Engine Power - RPM: 6500
  • Engine Torque - LBS.FT: 288
  • Engine Torque - MKG: 39.8
  • Engine Torque - NM: 390
  • Engine Torque - RPM: 4600
  • Top Speed: 143
  • Emissions Test Cycle: WLTP
  • RDE Certification Level: RDE 2
  • Alloys: True
  • Space Saver: False
  • Tyre Size Front: 225/40 R18
  • Tyre Size Rear: 225/40 R18
  • Wheel Style: 10 SPOKE FORGED
  • Wheel Type: 18" ALLOY
  • Height: 1455
  • Length: 3995
  • Wheelbase: 2560
  • Width: 1805
  • Fuel Tank Capacity (Litres): 50
  • Gross Vehicle Weight: 1645
  • No. of Seats: 4