Estonia’s Ott Tänak won the 2019 World Rally Championship with Toyota, and now, Tommi Mäkinen Racing and Toyota Gazoo Racing came up with a product that’s not only worthy of that triumph, but can also serve as the official homologation model for the next Yaris WRC.
Built on a new platform that combines the front end of the 2020 Yaris’ GA-B with the rear of the Prius/Corolla’s GA-C platform, Gazoo Racing’s homologation special is an all-wheel-drive box of focused fury with a six-speed manual, a 257-horsepower turbo-three, and an optional Circuit Pack. The latter ensures you can take some of Ott Tänak’s lines by adding a Torsen limited-slip differential on both the front and rear axles, along with a stiffer suspension and 18-inch forged wheels wrapped in 225/40 Michelin Pilot Sport 4s tires. As standard, the GR Yaris rolls on Dunlop SP Sport MAXX050 rubber.
Two decades after the Celica GT-Four’s 2.0-liter turbo, the GR Yaris comes with a 1.6-liter three-cylinder with a single-scroll turbocharger, multi-oil-jet piston cooling, large-diameter exhaust valves and a machined intake port. The result is a peak of 257 horsepower, along with 265 pound-feet of torque from this compact DOHC.
The GR Yaris was initially named GR-Four after its all-wheel-drive system, which offers a theoretical front/rear torque balance ranging from full front-wheel drive to full rear-wheel drive. In normal mode, the base torque split is 40:60, which already gives you a rear-biased driving experience. In Sport mode, the balance shifts to the rear at 30:70, while in Track, the base setting is 50:50 for maximum efficiency. Of course, the handling will be further enhanced if you tick the optional Circuit Pack for those two mechanical differentials. Upgrades or not, the power goes through a six-speed manual gearbox, which allows for a 0–62 mph (0–100 kph) run in 5.5 seconds, and a top speed limited to 143 mph. The GR Yaris weighs 2821 pounds, which is just a touch over the mandated minimum weight of a 380-hp Yaris WRC.
Instead of the torsion-beam rear suspension of the 2020 Yaris, the GR version comes with a double-wishbone setup at the rear and MacPherson struts at the front. For brakes, Toyota’s hot hatch has monstrous 356mm grooved front discs with four-pot calipers.
Due to its highly hand-built nature, for markets including parts of Europe and Australia Gazoo Racing will build its WRC special at a new dedicated production facility at its Motomachi factory. Instead of a traditional conveyor system, this new plant features a number of different cells connected by automatic guided vehicles.