The new, evolved Toyota GR Yaris has made its world debut at the 2024 Tokyo Auto Salon, benefiting from technical, design and construction enhancements that promise to deliver even greater driving thrills.
It has been three years since our rally-born thoroughbred stormed to the top of the hot-hatch segment. During that time, Toyota Gazoo Racing engineers, master drivers, and motorsport professionals have invested countless hours in order to make this revised version more powerful, responsive, engaging and – unbelievably – more rewarding to drive.
The check-list of changes is extensive, including an evolution of the world-leading turbocharged three-cylinder engine and introduction of a brand-new eight-speed automatic transmission, engineered for competition-fast gear changes. The bespoke chassis has been revised and strengthened, while the cockpit layout and driving position have been reconfigured for a more authentic sports car feel.
Since the model’s launch, more than 18,000 GR Yaris models have been sold in Europe – the greatest number going to UK customers
The new GR Yaris offers everything that made the original such a success, but more so. It will be available in the UK from summer 2024. Details of specifications and pricing will be announced at a later date.
New GR Yaris: more power, more torque, more control
At launch, the model’s G16E-GTS turbocharged engine had the distinction of being the world’s most powerful three-cylinder production unit. Now the unit reaffirms its supremacy with even more: power and torque has been increased by 20hp and 30Nm respectively, resulting in new maximum figures of 280hp and 390Nm.
Steps were also taken to ensure durability is maintained. Once again, race tracks and rally stages provided the proving grounds, with the engine tested to breaking point in the Japan Rally Championship and Japanese Endurance Race series. Details include a strengthened valve train, a new exhaust valve material and an increase in the D-4ST fuel injection pressure. New lightweight pistons with wear-resistant rings have been fitted and a new intake pressure sensor has been added.
The new GR Yaris will be offered in a single Circuit specification that includes a cooling performance pack. This equips the car with an additional radiator to improve reliability in full-throttle driving, intercooler spray and modifications to the air intake.
Super-fast shifting with new automatic transmission
One of the most significant changes in the new GR Yaris programme is the introduction of a brand-new eight-speed Gazoo Racing Direct Automatic Transmission, which is offered as an alternative to the established six-speed manual gearbox.
In designing the new automatic transmission, Toyota focused on achieving the fastest possible downshift speed. Where conventional gear shifting relies on sensing vehicle behaviour, such as deceleration G-force and speed, the new unit’s software is finely tuned to sense how the driver is using the brakes and accelerator. By doing so, it anticipates when gear shifting is necessary even before changes in vehicle behaviour occur, so that gear selection reflects the driver’s intentions and is similar to how professional drivers operate. Track tests proved that the new system secured faster lap times than those achieved with the manual transmission.
Increasing the number of gears from six to eight allows the transmission to have closer ratios. It also benefits from a new torque control system and a compact, high-response linear solenoid. Using highly heat-resistant clutch material and motorsport-proven control software have produced competition standard shift speeds and predictive gear selection that aligns perfectly with the driver’s intentions. Cooling requirements are addressed with the installation of an automatic transmission fluid cooler as standard.
The shift direction has been changed to suit competition driving. This means you push the lever forward for downshifts and back for upshifts – a detail promoted by master driver and Toyota Motor Corporation chairman Akio Toyoda (alias ‘Morizo’).
A new Sport, Normal and Evo drive mode selection function engages different settings for the electric power steering, air conditioning operation, throttle response, driver’s instrument display and GR-Four all-wheel drive system. On models equipped with automatic transmission, the gearshift feel and selection are also adjusted. Shift feel is response-oriented in Sport mode, while using the manual ‘M’ range ensures the quickest shifts. Normal and Eco modes deliver a softer transition between gears.
Increased body rigidity delivers even better response
The car’s lightweight body has been rendered even more rigid with a 13% increase in spot welds and the application of 24% more structural adhesive. As a result, the car’s yaw response, steering feedback and grip feel have been improved, enhancing what was already a taut and highly rewarding chassis.
The light but rigid suspension systems have been retained – front MacPherson struts and rear double wishbones with trailing arms – but adjustments have been made in response to feedback from competition drivers. Adding extra bolts to fasten the front shock absorbers to the body suppresses changes in alignment that can happen when the upper bushes deform in high-load driving. The front and rear springs have also been adjusted for optimum performance and improved handling control.
New competition-inspired cockpit
Significant changes have been made to give the new GR Yaris cockpit an authentically sporty feel with a design that’s true to the driver first principle that defines the car. Input from racing and rally drivers inspired the repositioning of controls to give the driver faster, clearer access.
Controls that often need to be used in competition, such as intercooler spray, VSC-OFF and hazard lights, have been moved closer to the driver so they can be reached quickly and easily when using a racing harness. On the passenger side, the tray in the instrument panel has been enlarged so there is space for extra meters or a co-driver’s monitor to be fitted.
The driver’s field of vision has been improved by lowering the top edge of the instrument panel by 50mm, changing the position of the rear-view mirror and angling the control panel 15 degrees further towards the driver. Meanwhile, the driver’s seat has been lowered 25mm and the steering wheel adjusted accordingly.
The instrumentation includes a new 12.3-inch digital combimeter with two layout modes – normal and sport, the latter (see below) providing a performance-focused data display. The design is free of superfluous ornamentation, so the graphics are clear and information can be instantly viewed and understood. On the automatic model, the read-out includes transmission oil temperature and a visual warning in addition to a sound alarm to alert the driver when engine revs are too high for downshifting.
New GR Yaris: exterior details
As expected of a thoroughbred machine, changes to the new GR Yaris exterior are based on feedback from professional drivers and experience gained in the heat of motorsport. At the front there is a new steel mesh for the lower grille, optimised for the best balance of thickness, strength and weight reduction. The side grilles are larger and the lower bumper has a new split construction that makes it easier and less costly to repair or replace.
At the rear, an opening in the bottom edge of the lower garnish allows air from beneath the floor to escape. This reduces drag and helps disperse heat from the exhaust system. The fog and reversing lights have been integrated into the rear combination lamps to reducing the risk of damage. Similarly, the third brake light has been moved from the rear spoiler and integrated into the light moulding on the hatch. This aligning creates a clear line of sight for following drivers and makes it easier for the spoiler to be changed or customised.
The new GR Yaris introduces a Precious Metal exterior colour option (as shown in this article’s studio images), in addition to the established signature shades – Emotional Red, Precious Black and Super White/Platinum White Pearlescent, which represent the colours of the Toyota Gazoo Racing livery.
New GR Yaris technical specifications
|3,995 long, 1,805 wide, 1,455 high; 2,560 wheel base; 1,535 track (front), 1,565 track (rear)
|Kerb weight (kg)
|1,280 (manual); 1,300 (automatic)
|G16E-GTS 1,618cc in-line three-cylinder with turbocharger and intercooler, 87.5mm bore, 89.7mm stroke; max output 280hp at 6,500rpm; max torque 390Nm at 3,250-4,600rpm
|Six-speed iMT or eight-speed Gazoo Racing direct automatic transmission
|GR-Four AWD system with three selectable modes, electronic multi-plate clutch, Torsen limited-slip differentials front and rear
|8×18″ BBS forged alloy wheels with 225/40 Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres, MacPherson strut front suspension, double wishbone rear suspension; 356mm ventilated front discs with four-piston calipers, 297mm ventilated rear discs with two-piston calipers
Rally champion-inspired special editions
Two special editions of the new GR Yaris will be unveiled at Rallye Monte-Carlo, the opening round of this year’s World Rally Championship. The pair will be named after two of our star WRC drivers: the Sébastien Ogier Special Edition and the Kalle Rovanperä Special Edition.