Meet HKS’s 475hp Toyota GR Yaris

If you caught my drive feature on the new Gazoo Racing (GR) Yaris, you might be wondering if its 1.6L 3-cylinder turbo G16E engine and the 270hp it generates can be pushed further? And if so, how much is safe?

Well, HKS is well on their way to answering that question, and on my recent trip down to the Japanese tuning company’s HQ at the base of Mt. Fuji, they also pulled out a GR Yaris that they’ve been playing around with for a few months.


A while back, Gazoo Racing supplied HKS with a couple of pre-production cars so they could get a head start in their GR Yaris aftermarket tuning parts design and production program. As you may have seen on social media, Daigo Saito got his hands on a GR Yaris too, and that car – and the one we’re going to look at today – have both been on the receiving end of a Pandem wide-body aero kit that Miura-san managed to produce in lightning-fast speed.

While Daigo has gone with a 2JZ swap in his Yaris, HKS have focused their attention on extracting more power from the factory G16E engine that powers this Gazoo Racing special.


What you’re seeing here is what HKS calls their ‘Step 1′ setup, a functional and well-performing drift and race car that’s destined for exhibition use. HKS driver Nobuteru ‘Nob’ Taniguchi has already put the Yaris through its paces at a series of closed test sessions, where HKS engineers set up the suspension and fine tuned the engine settings and the experimental bits and pieces they’ve developed for the model.

The moment I finished shooting the Yaris at HKS’s facility, it was taken back to the workshop where the engine was pulled for the start of ‘Step 2′, which involves tearing the motor down to inspect the internals and looking at possible improvements.


We’ve previously taken a digital look at the overfender kit that Miura created for the car, but seeing it in person is something else. The proportions are spot on, and it really does look like a fully-fledged WRC or World RX car, but with some JDM spice to it.


To fill its beefed-up arches, the HKS GR Yaris runs what we used to refer to back in the day as ‘GT-R size’ wheels and tires. That’s 18×9.5-inch wheels – in this case Yokohama Advan Racing R6s – shod in Yokohama Advan A052 high-grip radials. It’s pretty crazy to think about a Yaris running such a large combo, but they definitely don’t look too big for the car.

Suspension is enhanced by prototype HKS coilovers, and the car runs custom front and rear arms to extend the hub position and take advantage of the increased body width.


That aggressive stance is further highlighted by the iconic HKS oil-splash graphics, which are an instant visual cue that this is a car built to perform.


Of course, no proper JDM demo car would be complete without a pair of Craft Square carbon fiber mirrors. These simple but effective items have become an industry standard.


I personally think the Pandem kit looks its best from the rear, as the gap it leaves along the original body lines gives it serious character. I took a closer look but there’s nothing functional happening with the air – it’s purely aesthetic – but I’m sure we kind of all knew that already.


This car runs the red GR brake kit, which comes on the RZ model when it’s fitted with the optional ‘High Performance’ package (which also adds cool things like the front and rear Torsen diffs and an intercooler water sprayer).

The beefy 4-pot front and 2-pot rear monoblock calipers are yet another reminder of the extent Gazoo Racing has gone with this car. This is a far better and higher-spec braking system than what the GR Supra gets; something to think about there…


Any rally-inspired aero package needs a serious hatch/roof spoiler, and there’s definitely no missing this one. Two metal rods help support the wing, but again I think they’re more of a visual addition than anything else.


This HKS build has presence for days, but one aspect left me happy but confused. As I mentioned in my previous GR Yaris drive feature, Gazoo Racing developed a carbon fiber roof panel to help lower the Yaris’s center of gravity, only to finish it off with a carbon-look vinyl. Peel it away and you get what you see above.

Seriously, why would you ever want to cover that up? Toyota, please explain…

The Engine Room

I’m sorry to have to reveal this to you, but the G16E without its plastic engine cover looks like the back of a washing machine. While modern performance engines have become as efficient as they are potent, they’ve become extremely complicated. Read: they are not pretty, and with the GR Yaris it’s hard to even see the engine itself.

Under the hood, HKS have done very little to the motor for this first stage of modifications, but that doesn’t mean it’s not making more power. Quite the contrary.

HKS started by playing with the ECU settings, refining the tune as they added modifications. The idea has been to push the stock G16E as far it can go, and so far that’s entailed adding a prototype bolt-on turbo and raising boost from the factory 1.4bar (20.6psi) all the way up to 2.7bar (39.7psi). To support this, a prototype intercooler was made up, along with a modified intercooler spray system and a hard pipe kit. The stock air box was also ditched in favor of an HKS Super Power Flow filter. The result of all this is 375hp – a solid 100hp gain over stock.

But HKS didn’t stop there. An additional 100hp was gained through a 100-shot of nitrous oxide, for a total of 475hp. That’s enough juice for Taniguchi to effortlessly four-wheel drift the car around in recent tests.


The most impressive thing is that with an extra 200hp in play, both the engine and 6-speed manual driveline are still working perfectly. Toyota has a reputation for over-engineering their performance products, and the GR Yaris seems to be no exception to the rule.


With its custom open exhaust, the engine sounds pretty aggressive with a WRC-like overrun. Watching it dart around HKS’s inner test roads really was something else.

In the video above you can see Taniguchi having a lot of fun in the HKS GR Yaris during one of his first test drives of the car.

It also makes total sense why HKS seemed so excited to jump on the second phase of research and development for the G16E. If this thing is so tough in standard form, it will no doubt respond well to an additional and more substantial round of modifications. Could a 500hp+ GR Yaris be the tuner norm in a few years? That would be pretty crazy!


The GR Yaris is such a good addition to the Gazoo Racing line-up, in which the A90 Supra also fits with its ripe-for-tuning BMW B58 powerplant. It’s news like this that puts a big smile on my face, as I’m always fearful that we are on our last few legs of combustion engine tuning.

The Inside

As soon as you open the driver’s side door, it’s obvious that this a pre-production car; the trim pieces use experimental plastics and finishes and there are many bits and pieces missing. Not to worry though, as HKS plans to completely gut the car as the tuning process evolves.


Surprisingly enough, the stock steering wheel has been retained, although this is soon to be swapped out for a race item, potentially one of Taniguchi’s signature Nardi wheels. The stock “90s dash” as it was referred to in the comment section of the GR Yaris feature (a reference that made me laugh), has been replaced by a MoTeC C125 color display/data logger to provide all of the realtime data you’d ever need from the ECU.

HKS once again collaborated with Bride on this project and the car benefits from some of their lightest carbon fiber seats, including a XERO RS for the driver’s side.


This car, along with Daigo Saito’s 2J-powered GR Yaris, certainly helps guys in my age demographic reignite a passion for hot hatches. Back in school I used to dream of owning a Peugeot 205 GTi or Golf GTI 16V, and once I had a chance to drive both of them, they became cemented in my mind as the benchmarks I continue to judge modern cars against.


I again totally commend Toyota for allowing the GR Yaris to not only happen, but as HKS has proven, endowing it with a powertrain and driveline that us enthusiasts can play around with for the next decade to come. Now I’m just waiting to see how the tuning world embraces this car. I’m sure Tokyo Auto Salon 2021 will give us some great first examples of aero tuning, while HKS and other parts manufacturers figure out how to offer reliable power packages to their customers.

On a side note, Toyota, don’t disappoint all our car enthusiast friends over in the US. The GR Yaris is too good for it to be limited to a few select markets!

Dino Dalle Carbonare
Instagram: dino_dalle_carbonare



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Joe Blow(off valve)

The japanese are too conservative nowadays, 475hp is production car stuff.


For a 3 cylinder Hot Hatch? It's far from production car stuff

Joe Blow(off valve)

Big picture, pal. Production cars have been in the 500's for a while now with their special editions, and this is a tuner car. Expecting a lot more, especially from a house like HKS.


Outside of the American and German high performance TT and big block V8 special additions, where are you seeing these 500 HP performance models as normal on attainable level cars? For the hot hatch (Evo, WRX, Focus RS, ect) that's a very respectable number for a stock internals engine, let alone one that small. How many stock engines can take 40 psi of boost?! Looking at it from a power/displacement standpoint, this thing is making as much as a 700 hp 2JZ with a 190 shot of NOS added on, and doing so on factory internals!

Is 275 hp a super impressive factory number? No, but japanese 'tuner' cars never have been about that. They're about how easy is it to extract that extra power and performance via aftermarket. They're about having a tunable platform, not factory spec bragging rights. High factory numbers only raise the cost of entry on things their intended demographic will replace anyways. If you want your 500 hp, factory warranted car, the this is the wrong type of car for you. It's a matter of preference.


How much more do you want from a 3 cylinder exactly? Big picture pal it aint that easy.....

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Ehm it's a 1.6 3-cykinder. How much exactly would think a stock engine this size should handle?


Maybe our friend here is considering engines like 1.6L V6 F1 engine and koenigsegg 2.0L 4 cylinders engine as stock engines?


definately not production car stuff.

but definately still missing a cylinder.


I want to like this but... it just looks like a real dogs dinner of panels and graphics. I think the stock GR Yaris is a pretty complicated combination of shapes stock and by throwing all this stuff at it it now makes no visual sense at all. But not in a cool 'race car' way. Can we all move on from over fenders now please?


so how else are the sponsors and tuning companies going to display their brands on the car without those graphics ? over fenders will and always be part of aftermarket aero "tuning".


That crime-scene-splatter-pattern of a paint job goes a long way toward hiding the choppiness of the bodywork.

And I'd point out that you almost NEVER see Corvettes, Mustangs, Challengers and Camaros running around with aftermarket bodywork, even if they have nine hundred horsepower, because the factory aero is pretty well worked out to begin with.


Thats because most people take those cars drag racing, and im sure that is what you like to watch too. If you look at circuit racing series such as trans am, the cars you mentioned have widebodies. The wider the track width the better itll handle due to less weight transfer and increased tire grip


Because you only see cars like that going in a straight line. The wide overfenders are for covering the extended tires that wouldn't fit inside of the stock body while still allowing space for the suspension to move properly. You see cars like this with stock bodies because you don't need that kind or space if you're not going to put any lateral stress on the suspension.


American cars corner.

Japanese cars aren't glorified golf carts.

It's not 1978 anymore.

Get a new calendar.


I never mentioned anything about American/Japanese. (Although we can clearly tell where your loyalties lie) I just mentioned the the models you listed above are more suited for going in a straight line, and thus are often kitted out to do so. And other than dropping the body on a new custom frame (thus changing the entire dynamics of the suspension) do you have any better solutions for people who need to run wider than stock tires?


1 American car corners(mustang). The others you have to spend 50k+ to get one that corners, sometimes.
On top of that they are all too big and still too heavy.

All the Horsepower n00bs crack me up. They read only the HP number but never the weight of the car or the actual power to weight ratio. The latter is the more important number. 375 to 400hp in a car that weights 2800lbs is way more impressive and fun than a car making 500hp that is 5000lbs.


Absolutely! That is why the overweight oh sorry, obese 707 HP Dodge Charger hellcat (about 4450 lbs) accelerates slower to 60 mph than say A45S AMG despite having more than triple the engine capacity. People brag how much power their cars have but hardly ever state the torque figure and at what RPM.


laughs in superbike...


This is the most exciting model in a long time no doubt. Couldn’t wait for the tuners to go to work on it.. have to say though, pretty disappointed.
40 pounds of boost computer and a bigger turbo only netted 100hp at the engine. What’s that 70hp at the wheels? Not impressed.
Maybe it’s just proof that the engine is already stretched straight out of the box?


You worded that wrong. Stock it has 20psi, so its a bigger turbo and extra 19psi netted 100hp


My thoughts exactly, 40psi boost on a bigger turbo is ridiculously high for an open deck block for such a minor increase in power.


mate, its a 3-cylinder. what do you expect ? the fact that the engine is in one piece at 475hp, beaten to death with all that rev limiter bashing and anti-lag action from a 3 banger is already kinda crazy.


GR Supra vs GR Yaris



Who cares if the Yanks don't get it.

Just means they can pump up the prices for used & abused cars in 25yrs like they are currently with just about everything else.
Buy one before they can, get one that's not totally stuffed & then profit when the car cucks want to live the dream!


That shot of the engine bay looks like the pile of wiring harnesses in my garage.

There IS an engine in there, right?


An aftermarket motorsport grade wiring harness would do wonders on these new cars. Hell, extending and resleeving the stock harness would be a great improvement!

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Yeah, somewhere. Pity all these new motors look like that these days. I do wonder how long wiring and connectors will last sat where they are before they get brittle and powder.


I totally love it! The big Panasonic canards and the wing and the black and gold and the graphics. Just totally in love with it. And 475 from a 1.6!! Although I gotta say Toyota, that engine is such a mess. There's gotta be like 5 wiring harness on top of it! :p

Dino Dalle Carbonare

A plague that effects new engines these days...


Lot of hate in here for a pre-production parts mule test vehicle. And only a 3 cylinder at that. Not sure why someone decided to point out that 475hp is small and weak for an engine of this size. I for one like the car, admittedly I'd like to see a more "street" suited parts car come from HKS versus seeing the one they'll be using for exhibitions. I want to know how it'll look on the street with stock color options and a little bit less "race". But again, it's an HKS test vehicle for them to develop on and race, so this iteration makes sense.

Can't wait for more info on this Dino, great photos as always.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Well they have a few months. Give them a little longer and I'm soon we'll see something interesting


Three cylinders are super great, its the ratio of weight to displacement to look at, you can build a solid billet 1000hp 1600cc drag motor if you want but it will be heavy. It seems after set up cost OE's like to look at the raw material cost so if it is light and holds power all the better. I would like to see some jumps, it looks like it could be air friendly, Hmmm GR jump competitions. 3.5 spin/turn into the woopties then over the berm

Dino Dalle Carbonare

It seems anything under 1000 HP is boring these days. Tough crowd lol


Spoiled crowd nowadays... maybe we're getting old Dino


Naaaah, I bet 90% of the guys you're talking about never experienced taming a 1000HP car let alone tracking it on a tight roads & circuits. They don't know that you can shit your pants with some "normal" HP figures.


Why would you want to hide the carbon fiber ? Well, because then you can hide minor, but visible defects in fibre placement. Also it can be hard and/or expensive to guarantee the fact that the clouding and yellowing of the resin as it ages will be kept at an acceptable level. Things that you have to consider when you build a factory car with factory car pricing in mind

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Ok you have a point. But I still make little sense to me. I'd peel it off right away and maybe rewrap it after it yellows


So this is a brand new that toyota developed or is it a b58 chopped i half? Cause from what i recall, straight 6s and v12 and so on are developed from 3 cylinders. So why can they develope a 3 cylinder and not a 6

Dino Dalle Carbonare

To go rallying?


if it does not blow up like an atomic bomb then this is achievement of the century. 475 hp at 1280 kg is enough to beat GT3RS the latter is about 150 kg heavier. The Yaris should have more torque than the Porsche. This car will obliterate almost everything on the roads except the exotics.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Outright performance aside, it puts a huge smile on your face, for me that's more important than anything!


First time I see negative opinions on the Yaris GR, I wouldn't have guessed that it would be on SH.
This build super cool imo, the rally inspired theme is exactly what this car needs. Also I want an explanation from Toyota for the stock fake carbon fiber vinyl haha.
Great reading as always, thanks for the work.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Thanks, glad you liked the feature. It's good to see people's opinions, we welcome both negative and positive ones, we really want to know what people think as do manufacturers!

I'll have the tuna

if youre banging out 475 or 375 in a purpose built car that weighs under 3000 pounds, I think you have provided all the ingredients for a good time.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Let's see what stage 2 will bring for HKS


that car is dope , nice photos too

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Thanks Joe!


If this indeed can take around 500hp without reinforcing the engine and trans, this is one of the greatest latest cars produced!

Dino Dalle Carbonare

I think the point here was to see how far they could push it. They will then make sure it's over-engineered and reinforced and drop the boost/performance as bit. Power isn't everything, reliability is!


Why so much negativity? This thing is awesome for what it is. Joe blow must have a large bank account and manicured finger nails. High horsepower equates to cubic dollars. Dinosaurs know that. I trust this thing uses fuel from a regular gas station? Might be why the power numbers are realistic. Such narrow mindedness shows a lack of understanding of how much is going on. Talk is cheap. Keyboard heroes are a dime a dozen. Nice feature Dino.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Thanks Andy. I'd say they are using race gas for those numbers. Close to 3 bar on pump gas would be asking for trouble.


Gravel!!!!!! Lets not forget the idea that this could? be a Toyota tough enough to get dirty and drive it home. I think Toyota should give Dino a chance to put some real gravel stage tires on and get off pavement, and take some jumps, or Toyota could send me to rally school in one of these I volunteer. OH if HKS is at 475 and they are just now doing the first tear down I think we wll see over 500 on stock internals.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Oh hell yes! If Toyota gave me a GR Yaris I'd be up in the snowy mountains, on snow rubber, drifting the hell out of it! In fact, that's an awesome idea! Toyoda-san, onegaishimassssssss !!!


why is it lhd?


a post of saito 2jzGR yaris


I had those little carbon fiber side mirrors on my car. They look really cool but it's impossible to see anything out of them.


Hi does anyone know if its possible to buy the rear E-diff?