Motoring News

AWD Toyota GR Yaris: Car of the Year for 2021?

Will join GR Supra in Toyota’s GR portfolio
First turbocharged Toyota AWD in SA
Spiritual successor to the Celica GT-FOUR

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – Toyota’s GR Yaris, expected in South Africa in early 2021, is said to have all the credentials for competition success given that it has a new 200kW/370Nm 1.6-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine – said to be the world’s most powerful, mass-produced, three-cylinder unit.

Along with an all-new platform, three-door body, aerodynamic styling, and a new GR-Four permanent all-wheel drive, the car has an impressive power-to-weight ratio of 156kW/tonne and sprints from 0-100km/h in 5.2sec.

2021 Toyota GR Yaris

It’s also the first all-Toyota sport car and the company’s first homologation model for World Rally championship since the Celica GT-Four ceased production in 1999 and brings motorsport tech directly to the world of the road car through the combined design and engineering skills of Toyota’s title-winning Gazoo Racing and World Rally teams.

The cars are said to have the low and tapered profile and wide squat stance – ”a serious performance car” – and share only three exterior components with the Yaris hatch – headlights, tail-lights and external mirrors.

And, for the rallying for which it was designed, a sculpted and aerodynamic shell over a kerb weight of 1280kg – that last helped by a carbon-fibre roof and aluminium bonnet, doors and rear hatch.

200kW FROM A 1.6 THREE!

The light and compact 200kW turbo engine used motorsport tech to deliver ”an exhilarating” drive helped by multi oil-jet piston cooling, machined intake ports and large-diameter exhaust valves, direct and port fuel-injection, high-speed combustion, a single scroll ball-bearing turbo, aluminium oil-cooler and large-capacity water pump and air cleaner.

It all goes to a six-speed manual gearbox equipped with rev-matching for both up and down shifts. Top speed is listed as 230km/h.

READ MORE Toyota Yaris features on Carman’s Corner

GR Yaris has extra changes: the dedicated platform that combines the front of a Yaris with the rear of a Toyota Corolla to house a new suspension design and the all-wheel while also contributing to stability and handling.

Driver-selectable AWD settings are Normal (40% of torque to rear wheels), Track (50% to the rear wheels), and Sport (70% to rear wheels).

2021 Toyota GR Yaris.

”The system,” Toyota told The Corner in a media release, ”will adjust torque split automatically based on the driver’s input, vehicle behaviour, and road or track conditions.”

High-response shock-absorbers are stiffer than the five-door Yaris hatch and have special knuckles and stiffer bushes for maximum control/stability.

The multi-link rear suspension (the standard Yaris has a torsion beam layout) is also more rigid with new upper arms and stiffer settings for superior handling and traction through high-speed corners.

2021 Toyota GR Yaris.

356mm two-piece ventilated discs with four-piston callipers will clamp the front wheels, 297mm ventilated discs and two-piston callipers at the rear are said to provide confident, stable, fade-resistant, braking.


The short-stroke brake pedal has been tuned for solid feedback, the clutch for consistent pedal feel and to compensate for wear.

The driver will face a small but leather-wrapped steering-wheel with fingertip controls. The short-throw gear shifter and handbrake are also leather-wrapped, the pedals aluminium.

Large ‘speedo’ and ‘tacho’ dials sit either side of a 4.2-inch multi information display that offers an array of details including turbo pressure and gear-shift indicators. Premium sports front seats offer the support and comfort of large bolsters.

2021 Toyota GR Yaris.

The adjustable driver’s seat and tilt-and-telescopic steering column contribute to an ideal seating position.

READ MORE Toyota features on Carman’s Corner

The two rear seats each have IsoFix child-seat anchor points and are split 60/40 to allow expansion of the 141-litre luggage space.

Mid-2021 is the target for South African introduction at which time detailed spec, prices, and model choice will be released.

2021 Toyota GR Yaris.

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