Move Over Supra, The Toyota GR Yaris Is Here

Toyota has absolutely nailed it with the Gazoo Racing (GR) version of the Yaris

This not just some marketing attempt at making a hot hatch out of a regular production car; this is a side project commissioned from the big boss at Toyota, in which engineers were unleashed to go all-out and create a superb little package for WRC homologation purposes.

The result is something like we haven’t seen in years. The GR Yaris might be based on Toyota’s staple small car, but there are so many changes and additions under the skin that you quickly realize the 25,000 examples Toyota needs to sell to meet those homologation requirements won’t make any money for the company.


It’s usually fun and special cars that end up being unprofitable, but who cares? We aren’t here to talk about finances; we’re here to get behind the wheel and for this I really need to give big thanks to the folks at HKS for making it happen with their own R&D car. This allowed me to drive the GR Yaris long before I could get my hands on one of the cars in Toyota Japan’s press fleet.


This is also the reason why you’re seeing the 3-door, 3-cylinder, turbo, AWD rocket against the beautiful backdrop of Mt. Fuji. Yes, HKS’s HQ couldn’t be situated in a more iconic Japanese spot.


Speaking of 3-doors, this is the first thing you notice about the GR Yaris. The regular Yaris is only available as a 5-door, so you know how serious Gazoo Racing was about creating a true performance machine.


On top of the visibly pumped front and rear wheel arches, the roof was also lowered a little. Think about the cost needed to do that on a modern-day production car…


It doesn’t end there, because the roof skin is actually carbon fiber, or rather CFRP made using compounded sheet moulding. For some odd reason though, it’s been covered up with carbon fiber-look vinyl. You’ll be able to see what it really looks like underneath in another feature I have coming up.

Other weight-shedding measures include an aluminum hood, rear hatch and doors, which all combined set the curb weight at 1,280kg. Then there’s the work that has gone into adapting the bespoke chassis around the new GR-Four AWD driveline, and making it all as rigid as possible. For suspension, Toyota refined the base Yaris’s McPherson layout up front, but threw away the entire rear setup for a fully independent double wishbone arrangement.


Add in that fact that Toyota developed a new turbocharged engine and manual transmission specifically for the GR Yaris, and it boggles the mind that they went ahead with the car at all.


It really reads like a wish list from some rally enthusiast about what his dream street-going homologation special would be like. This is a car that in 2020 has almost no right existing.


It’s so bonkers to think that Toyota of all companies came up with it too. Up until a decade ago, this was a manufacturer we used to brush off as being overly boring and profit-focused.


And with all automotive narrative these days being around electrification, sustainability, autonomous driving and grilles (wink-wink, BMW), the GR Yaris proves that ‘affordable’ fun cars aren’t going away, or at least they can coexist in this push for a future where all fun on four wheels will end.


So it brings me much pleasure to dive into the amazing G16E-GTS, the world’s most powerful 3-cylinder engine. Thanks to direct port (and normal) fuel injection, a 10.5:1 compression ratio, multi-oil-jet piston cooling, and a single-scroll turbocharger, the little 3-pot develops 200kW (272PS) and 370Nm of torque between 3,000 and 4,600rpm. Those are numbers close to what an RB26DETT in stock form used to put out in its day.


This is mated to a 6-speed manual transmission which sends drive to all four wheels through the GR-Four AWD system, which is the first performance-oriented four-wheel drive system Toyota has developed since the Celica GT-Four. It splits torque front to rear via a multi-clutch pack, which allows the driver to select the actual split via the 3-mode rotary dial in the cabin.

The optional ‘High Performance’ package adds Torsen LSDs front and rear, as well as larger and more potent monoblock brake calipers and floating two-piece rotors. All of this for a price of ¥4.5 million, which is roughly US$43,000.


HKS haven’t had the car for much more than a week and they’ve already developed and completed the first cat-back Legamax Premium exhaust, which is designed to emphasize the sound of the stock motor giving it a deeper growl and lesser back pressure. And as the name suggests, it’s all legal for road use here in Japan. There is a more extreme system following up next month.


Aside from that, this car remains totally stock with just 500km on the odometer.

This the RZ version which does away with the Torsen diffs and the GR braking kit of the High Performance package, so it runs open diffs and the slightly less track-focused brakes. HKS chose this as the basis for their street car development package as they will end up putting aftermarket parts on the car anyway.


I just can’t express how much I like the compact dimensions of the car and the aggressive stance it has with those wide-set shoulders. Look closely, however, and you will notice that the wheelbase is pretty long. The wheels sit at the extremities of the chassis, resulting in minimal overhangs.


So how is it inside?


Well, this is where things feel a little bit more normal.


The driving position is far from sporty; you sit high and slightly upright as you would in the normal Yaris. This aspect was never going to differ greatly over the regular model, so don’t feel disappointed if you sit in a GR Yaris and it all feels a tad like a city car. Then again, all modern rally cars seem to have these type of cockpits as they’ve usually been based on run-of-the-mill production models too.

That said, the GR-branded half (faux) leather and half Alcantara (like) seats are nice and supportive, and feel just right in the way they envelop you. Personally, I think the driver’s seat should have had more height adjustment, or rather the ability for it to sit far lower. As it is, it makes taller drivers feel way too high, something that has plagued Japanese cars since the beginning of time.


Don’t expect many frills when it comes to equipment and overall gadgetry. The analogue instrumentation is purely functional, but does benefit from a multi-page color digital screen in the center of the cluster which allows you to flick through a few different readouts. I liked this one with the boost gauge.


There is a center screen, but after fiddling around with it I can report there is no performance displays or anything like that. Just navigation and infotainment, and a fuel economy graph page which reminded me Toyota hasn’t lost its touch providing us with boring things even on their most exciting cars. So this screen isn’t something you’ll be taking much notice of when throwing the GR Yaris around corners.


Ahead of the 6-speed gear shifter is the torque split selector, which allows you to go from 30% front and 70% rear in ‘Sport’ to a 40% front and 60% rear in ‘Normal’, and finally a 50:50 split for the ‘Track’ setting.


Oh, and there’s a decent trunk at the back too. Fold the rear seats down and you will be able to throw in a couple of spare wheels and some tools for a fun day at the track.


But how is it to drive? Well, once I got the photography side of things wrapped up, HKS allowed me to go for a quick hoon around their private roads.


If you didn’t know, HKS has a massive compound with a network of roads perfect for testing cars. I was able to put the little Yaris through some fast second and third gear corners and a nice straight to get all the way up to the top of third gear.


While it may not be a fully-fledged road test, it was more than enough to emphasize just how good this package is. Right from the moment you get on the power, you can’t help but feel connected to the engine and the sweet and perfectly-weighted gear change of the gearbox.


The turn-in is fluid, precise and responsive, and once aggressively thrown into a corner you can get on the power hard and let that rush of torque pull you out into long straights, which it just seems to eat up. The engine doesn’t sound like a 3-cylinder; it’s definitely off-beat but has the aural quality of a 5-cylinder and the low frequencies of a Volkswagen W8. It’s weird but refreshingly so, and in no way does it make you feel short changed.


The power and torque is plentiful, and the chassis and handling seem to complement each other beautifully. It’s a sublimely-developed car; it’s fun from the first time you turn the wheel and it makes you reminisce back to an era when a lot of cars felt like this.


It’s been a very long time since I’ve driven something so satisfying, but this car hits the spot on so many levels that Toyota must really be praised for allowing Gazoo Racing to make it a reality. I really do hope other manufacturers take notice as well, because we need more of this.

The new GR Supra is good, but the GR Yaris is great. So for me, the only single negative aspect here is that I don’t have one in my driveway.

Dino Dalle Carbonare
Instagram: dino_dalle_carbonare



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Awesome article. Brakes are actually the same though for circuit pack, they just paint the calipers red (in your pics you can actually see the 2 piece rotors). Anyway, ironically bigger than the Supras brakes. Main difference with circuit 'rallye' over here are the diffs, painted calipers, forged wheels and red stitching. Pretty cool either way!
Had mine for a week now, pretty solid bit of gear, very easy to have fun with. Other cool features like handbrake automatically disconnecting rear end for perfect drifts and self blipping downshifts (iMT button) make it a riot.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Oh damn I wish HKS would have let me try the handbrake lol. Enjoy the car!


Ugh !!

Subaru come on and make us a New 2022 Subaru Justy like this !, my little justy 1.2L 3cyc AWD is getting tired.

Bring this car to Canada !!!


my buddy had a justy. he had to drive over a bridge to get to school, and I'm surprised the wind never blew the damn thing straight over the edge lol


I'm still waiting to be able to test one (thanks to COVID , test are not possible outside press people for now) before buying one .
But the more I read and watch review the more I think that it will replace my BRZ next year .
It probably will be the last fun full petrol car that can be bought when you see what autorities are planning for the futur (at least in Belgium).
Weird thing to notice in Europe, if you take the "circuit pack" , navigation don't work ... (you have to rely on your phone ^^ )

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Probably best that way? I hardly ever use the OEM navi in cars, such a pain with their UI to do actual searches


I must admit that I don't know the quality (of lack of it seems) of toyota one.
Of course, there's plenty of solution via phone but data are not so cheap in my country :(
Seems that my old external GPS will still be useful :p if I go this way.
Does the HKS one you tested have the HUD system?


I like the vehicle. It shows what Toyota can do with an honest effort. But I will always be salty with Toyota because of the A90. Toyota put an honest effort into this Yaris. I believe they will also put in the same effort with the LC-F with the twin turbo V-8. But this level of effort I don't believe went into the A90.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

I agree. While I am happy the Supra exists it's obvious the basis of it should have been the LC. The proportions were right and plus it's a 2+2 as it should be

Jay Soh Tsu Chung

The LC-F plan has been shelved, as is the new twin turbo V8. :(

Johnny Outterbridge

They have the GR Supra shape, a tune, special colors and a few badges. Otherwise if you drive it back to back with A BMW the car feels almost the same. Toyota put like 10% into the car. The Yaris is 110% and I love it

Johnny Outterbridge



In 2020, Toyota releases a car that carries the spirit of the old Evos and STis. Definitely should be celebrated! My only concern is the tune-ability of the engine, as it's only 1.6lt 3 cylinder and already has a very high compression ratio. It definite sits too high but I looked at the seat rails and it doesn't look like it will be easy to lower it.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

You'll see all about on the feature I have coming on the other GR Yaris HKS let me shoot ...


Looking forward to it!


Great article on the GR!

With such advancement of technology over a period of time, it's mind boggling the GR's 3 pot-engine delivers the HP amounting to the RB.

Hey, let's lock the engineers in the room and kick them everyday until they can make 500hp engine. hahaha!!

Dino Dalle Carbonare

HKS aren't too far from that...


it's missing a cylinder, the gauge cluster is from 1995 and they still can't turn a profit?

Dino Dalle Carbonare

LOL that made me laugh


Everything old skool now costs fortune! Just look at E30 m3, old skool Porsches, everything rotaries. Toyota indeed is losing big money over these clusters.




this thing is a joke and toyota is trying to sell people (a dying car-loving demograph) that it is a serious performance car to carry a brand because they have nothing better. supra is a flop (will never get out of its 'it is a BMW' debate), LC nobody even knows about about and RC-F is at best a '7/10th' car. yaris is not a desirable halo vehicle, nobody wants to grow up to own a city car with a 3 cylinder engine. nothing in toyota's current line up is desirable. people buying toyota now like they shopping for appliances. akio toyoda pretends to spread gospel about how he cares about driving enthusiasts. the mantra of japanese car companies that cared about the spirit of driving died in the 90's (mazda has also 'grown up'). you think some silver spooner ceo is going to care? no, he wants to sell an image and see bottom line growth with mundane SUV's and hybrids

Dino Dalle Carbonare

I get what you are trying to say but the truth of the matter is that Toyota is actually doing far more than other Japanese manufacturers.


> yaris is not a desirable halo vehicle, nobody wants to grow up to own a city car with a 3 cylinder engine.

ironically enough, I have read more than a few stories that the GR Yaris is fully booked everywhere. talking about nobody even wanted it.


Base model lancer wasn't a desirable car either until the GSR \ EVO came out.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Yeah come one, when has a JDM car generated so much conversation?


As much as I love the GT86 and Supra, the GR Yaris is something very special to me because it shows that Toyota knows how to make a sports car
And not only that this has the same spirit as the Celica GT-Four, a WRC legend

Dino Dalle Carbonare

They've developed an all new AWD system and engine for this thing. That's wild in 2020


I just love the GR Yaris! It's the attainable dream car!
I hope that Toyota uses the same drivetrain from the Yaris for the GR Corolla! Can't wait for that!

Dino Dalle Carbonare

The fact that it's obtainable is the key factor here. I though those days were over...


Oh man the photos are just so good!
It's giving me Gran Turismo vibes

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Thanks man!


I think this is awesome. Exceptional Toyota, proud to call myself Toyota loyal from just their trucks. Outstanding pictures as well... thank you Dino!

And since you're headed in the right direction Toyota... I'd love to see this as AWD - Subaru could use some competition in the Northwest. Let's stretch it, tweak it (completely), toss in a six or eight that is in another platform and have healthy, aggressive RS6 competitor. Why not? We've had compromised wagons from Lexus a few times with dismal sales results. Make the next iconic "supra" a wagon. We're ready for someone to deliver and you guys want to impress.


The front/rear split in normal mode is 60 front 40 rear. Not the other way around as in the article. So in all:


This is a real dilemma for me, because I like the fact that Toyota built a great factory hot rod - out of the lamest car they had.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

By changing 90% of it lol


Then again, maybe I'm wrong.

Dodge made the Hemi Dart out of the lamest car THEY had at the time, so this is just the modern equivalent.


Toyota’s bosses said that they will make more than 25k GR Yaris if there is demand for it, they also said the GR Yaris has been developed as a series production car

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Well 25k makes it a production car yes, the 25k is what the FIA requires for WRC homologation


Great write up,
But also very interesting that it was all positive. I've seen nothing but rave reviews for the Rallye Spec but mediocre reviews for the base model you are driving. Interesting to see you like it so much.
Due to space I have to downsize my E92 M3 and have been looking at this or a JCW Mini and cant decide.
Will have to drive one and see if I agree.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Nothing negative to say except the JDM high driving position.


of all the new cars sold in recent years, this is one of the few that I am interested in.

too bad it not going to be sold officially in my country. my friend have ask the local Toyota dealer in the country about it. they said they are not likely to bring in the GR Yaris and if they do, it going to cost more than 400,000 MYR (which is almost 100,000 USD).


A hundred thousand bucks?! For this?!

What color is the sky in their world?


that is what Southeast Asia in a nutshell. the import duty and tax can cost more that the whole car itself.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Can't blame Toyota for luxury taxes imposed by certain governments. Talk to said governments about that lol


what is started from a protectionist policy, I don't think they gonna remove or reduce the rate due to how much it contributes to the government's coffers annually. the only chance to have one is to wait for it to pop up in the gray import market one day.

to be honest, it is kinda disappointing that the local Toyota distributor decided to bring in the A90 but not the GR Yaris along side it as well.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

You guys should petition. Or can't the gray market take care of that?


Actually there have been demand for the import duty to be abolished or at least reduced for years but with politicians being politicians, every time they have their excuses when such thing being brought out.

Jay Soh Tsu Chung

I just want to see how much power can be extracted out of that G16E reliably.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

HKS will have that answered pretty quick


I haven't read the comments closely this time, but would it possible that this is a B38 in another guise? Totally differnt bore and stroke though, so not likely? If so, its essentially the same engine is the BMW/Supra but with only half of the cilinders....

Dino Dalle Carbonare

It seems this is very much a Toyota effort. The BMW crossover was only for the Poopra


In that case there is a slight chance that there is more on the horizon: Modular engine design.

A straight 3 can fairly easy be converted to lets say a 2.2 straight 4 with roughly 360 PS, or a 3.2 straight 6 or V6 with 550 PS. It more or less depends on gearbox design and how much power the gearbox can hold. Power figures quoted are based on the straight 3. If expanded by the number of cylinders and given the same components as the straight 3 power figures tend to be even higher then the ones I quoted for the 4 and 6 cylinder variants.

That is: If Toyota wants to make them....

As for the Supra: I'm more in the opposite camp: The design isn't up to par, but theengine and transmission side are. B58 is a great engine.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

The ZF in the Poopra is fine, it should be there to give people the choice to have an AT. For everyone else they should have give it a 6-speed manual FFS


Well yeah, I can agree on that. I love my manuals. That being said though: I am converting to an old school 5 or 6 speed sequential in my daily. The ZF isn't a bad transmission though, and from a financial standpoint a better choice for the actuall people buying them.

Thats why I tend to prefer old cars. Its a way more direct driving feel. But I don't care a comfort, so i'm on the far end of that spectrum.


Beautifull car , i would love to se one of these down here in argentina , an important question , there is any blow off sound or turbo whistle ?

Dino Dalle Carbonare

No it's very muted


Toyota should drop the regular Yaris and just build The GR. They would take the whole segment and be ale to make money on volume. Of course people would now epect a whole new level of vehicle expeirene.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Not sure it might suit the granny that buys a regular Yaris lol


Hi, Well my grandmother did enjoy chirping the wheels and had a few corners where she wouldn't lift, and she did like small 4 wheel drive, so I think she would have loved the GR. But she would not have wanted extra insurance or taxes. So what if Toyota added a simple control screen over an advanced, in base mode you could emphasize say summer, winter, rain, and in advanced you get to change up everything. Just look at what you get in motorcycles these days. It sure seems easier than building a base model that is dumbed down basic, but uses quality parts and engineering. Can you imagine the poor engineer or designer who has to redo a part because it was too nice for that spot in the lineup. Free the inner Speed Hunter! Grandmothers for Speed!


I love it.


Ordered one in june without having driven it or even seen it in person. Picked it up yesterday from the dealership and don't regret my decission. Totaly in love with it. I didn't give it all the beans yet beacause of the running in period but even at normal cruising it feels special.
Incredible car for the money and nothing to comparable at the market in my opinion. I was a little bit sceptical about the 3 cylinder engine at the beginning but now i think its the perfect engine for the car.

Greeting from Germany :-)