WATCH | Toyota GR Yaris vs Litchfield GR Yaris drag race

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2021 Toyota GR Yaris
2021 Toyota GR Yaris

CarWow pits a standard Toyota GR Yaris against a tuned version. 

• The performance arm of Toyota unveiled the hot hatch in 2020.

• UK tuners Litchfield Motors have upped the GR's power to 225kW and 390Nm. 

Toyota's brilliant homologation special, the GR Yaris, has caught rave reviews around the world from the motoring press. 

It has all the hallmarks to become one of the world's most iconic performance cars. Think of Gazoo Racing like BMW's M or Mercedes' AMG performance arms.

The Japanese company's Yaris is fitted with an all-new bodyshell, platform, engine and all-wheel drive system. It's a rally car with number plates and a few examples will be coming to South Africa later this year. 

This isn't your granny's Yaris, it's powered by a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine with 192kW and 396Nm (European specification) mated to a six-speed manual gearbox sending power to all four wheels, like a rally car. 

The graft going to building one is phenomenal. It takes 10 times longer to build the GR version in comparison to a normal Yaris, and it's built at the same Motomachi plant where Lexus produced its famous V10-powered supercar: the LFA. 

In no uncertain terms, what Toyota has done is design a rally car from the ground up. And while it may look more hot hatch than WRC, it has weight-saving features like a carbon fibre roof and aluminium skins, bonnet and tailgate that omits an extra 27.5 kilograms. 

Toyota says the four-wheel-drive system is the lightest in its segment. Like all modern performance cars the Yaris GR has configurable driving modes. In a rally hot hatch the torque is shifted between the front and rear axle depending on which mode you're in. 

In normal mode the torque is split 60:40 front to rear. Dial it into Sport and that changes to 30:70 and obviously Track 50:50.

The Japanese carmaker is no longer bound to meet the minimum requirement of 25 000 cars for the World Rally Championship's regulations, as Toyota will field its 2020 car this season due to budget cuts caused by the pandemic.

But the public's reaction to the hot hatch has been phenomenal. Already available in the United Kingdom, the guys at Litchfield Motors offer a tuned version with more power. 

Simply called the Litchfield edition, it features a 'piggyback' ECU along with a special air filter that boosts power to 225kW and 390Nm. 

The team at Carwow have lined the standard model and the Litchfield Edition for a drag race to see which is faster. 

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In late 2018, I had the pleasure of driving what one could call the predecessor to the Yaris GR. It gave me an insight into what the performance brand had up its sleeve. 

It's no surprise that the GR Supra and now the Yaris are highly acclaimed driving machines. 

The Germans better watch out. 

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