Toyota's rally-inspired GR Yaris is the hot hatch we've been waiting for

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GR Yaris.
GR Yaris.

Toyota's second Gazoo Racing model has been launched. 

Following the GR Supra last year, Toyota took the wraps off rally-inspired Yaris hot hatch. 

It's powered by a 1.6-litre turbocharged engine with 192kW and 360Nm. It weighs less than 1300 kilograms. 

Two years ago, Toyota gave us a peak into its performance road car brand, Gazoo Racing.

Called the Yaris GRMN, the car was a 1.8-litre supercharged hot hatch based on Yaris, fitted with a short-throw six-speed manual, Torsen limited slip differential and sticky Bridgestone rubber. 

The driving experience in the 156kW Yaris was nothing sort of sensational. It has the agility of a fly and impressed with its immense power from the four-cylinder forced induction engine. 

Sadly, the GRMN wasn't sold locally but it gave insight into what was in store. The first taste of GR Mzansi received was the Supra, a collaboration with German carmaker, BMW. 

The company's big boss Akio Toyoda earmarked rallying to improve their road cars. In 2014, Toyoda recruited multiple championship-winning rally driver Tommi Makkinen re-enter rallying in 2017. Since then Toyota has won a constructors' championship and a driver' title in 2019.

Now, Toyota has launched its latest GR model and it this one has been built from the ground up with no German assistance. In fact, Toyota's World Rally Championship car inspired the carmaker to build this homologation version: GR Yaris. 

GR Yaris.
GR Yaris.

It looks nothing like a normal Yaris and that's because it's not supposed to. It's powered by a 1.6-litre, three cylinder turbocharged engine, just like the rally car, except in road-going form the power is limited to 192kW and 360Nm. 

The engine is genuine motorsport-spec piece of machinery and complies with WRC2 tech regulations. The GR Yaris can launch from rest to 100km/h in just 5.5 seconds, and on to an electronically limited top speed of 230 km/h.

GR Yaris.
GR Yaris.

The suspension geometry and settings have been defined to maximise the tyres' grip capability. Toyota says the new knuckles, with a lower joint ball position, enable an increase in initial camber and optimised roll steer characteristics.

The anti-roll bar layout and spring characteristics have also been optimised and the system uses an exclusive, high-response shock absorber set-up.

It has four-wheel-drive, just like the rally car, which Toyota could only do by merging the front platform of a Yaris and the rear from a bigger Corolla. The body is made out of carbon-fibre polymer to save weight for a kerb mass of just 1280 kilograms. 

What's not to love?

GR Yaris.
GR Yaris.

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