The GR Yaris isn’t your typical supermini. Developed with assistance from Gazoo Racing, the subcompact hatchback is pretty much a homologation special with lots of World Rally Championship-derived technical expertise.
Built on a unique platform that combines the front section of the GA-B and the rear section of the GA-C, the GR Yaris is only available with three doors instead of the five-door arrangement of the regular Yaris. Thanks to lightweight aluminum panels and carbon-fiber polymer roof, the WRC-infused hot hatch tips the scales at merely 1,280 kilograms (2,822 pounds).
“There are lighter cars in this particular segment,” you may be thinking, but they don’t feature all-wheel drive. GR-Four permanent all-wheel drive was developed specifically for this application. The full-time system operates in three modes: Normal with a 60:40 torque split between the front and rear axles, Sport Mode (30:70), and Track Mode (50:50 for excellent balance).
Our friends at Cars.co.za had the opportunity of tracking the Japanese hatchback against compact-sized hatchbacks, and guess what? All-wheel drive and the relatively low curb weight surely make a difference. The lap is over in 1:19.45 for the GR Yaris while the front-wheel-drive Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk8 needs 1:21.51 and the BMW 128ti makes do with 1:23.89.
A better comparison would’ve been against the Volkswagen Polo GTI, Ford Fiesta ST, and Hyundai i20 N. The latter has been recently tested by Mat Watson from Carwow to 60 miles per hour (97 kilometers per hour) in 6.0 seconds flat, which is 0.2 seconds better than the automaker’s 100-kph figure. The GR Yaris dips into the 4-second bracket with ease, which goes to show that a proper AWD system goes a long way in such a small package.
Still, one cannot ignore the elephant in the room. I’m referring to the price tag of the GR Yaris, namely 34,000 euros excluding the 4,490-euro performance package. All told, that’s an insane $44,635 at current exchange rates.