New GR Yaris Is Toyota’s Latest Rallying Cry


After three years on road, track and rally stage Toyota has updated the Gazoo Racing Yaris based on feedback from its enthusiastic drivers.

“Every aspect of the new GR Yaris incorporates the knowhow and expertise fed back from actual motorsport situations and from our Master Driver and race and rally drivers,” explains Chief Engineer Naohiko Saito.

When the GR Yaris launched in 2020 it came complete with the world’s most powerful three-cylinder motor, and now the 1.6-liter turbocharged triple has been further boosted. Power is up to 280 hp at 6500 rpm and there’s 288 lbft of torque available between 3250 and 4600 revs. The extra grunt comes courtesy of a strengthened valvetrain, new exhaust valves, a hike in fuel injection pressure, and lightweight pistons. There’s also improved cooling with a Circuit specification which includes a new sub-radiator, plus a modified air intake and intercooler spray.

2024 GR Yaris front engine

Many drivers will stick to the tried and tested three-pedal, six-speed manual transmission, but the fastest shifts will actually come from a new eight-speed Direct Automatic Transmission. Not only does the DAT offer remarkably rapid upshifts, its software has been purpose designed to downshift exactly when the driver needs it. Where normal automatics will shift based on parameters such as deceleration g-force and speed the new ‘box senses how the driver is using the brake and throttle to anticipate when a shift is needed. Track testing confirms that the auto turns in faster lap times, while the transmission has also proven its durability in the Japan Rally Championship, the Gazoo Racing Rally Challenge and the Super Taikyu Series.

2024 GR Yaris auto

Three drive modes (Sport, Normal and Eco) are offered with appropriate settings for steering, shifting on auto models, throttle response and instrumentation, as one would expect. However, such is Toyota’s attention to detail that even the air conditioning is impacted by the choice of drive mode. Also affected is the permanent all-wheel-drive system with front-rear torque bias adjusted accordingly.

Further improving the car’s highly-praised handling is an increase in body rigidity. There are 13 percent more spot welds and 24 percent more structural adhesive, which Toyota says enhances the car’s yaw response, steering feedback and overall grip. The suspension keeps its MacPherson struts at the front and double wishbone rear end, but there are additional bolts to hold the front shocks in place and the spring rates have been changed based on learnings from competition drivers.

This valuable feedback has also led to some repositioning of key controls in the cabin. The VSC, intercooler spray and hazard warning light switches are now closer to the driver and can all be reached even while wearing a full competition harness. To benefit co-drivers there’s a larger space for a rally computer to be fitted, while the top of the instrument panel has been lowered by two inches for improved visibility. The seats are an inch lower for a better seat-of-the-pants feel, and there’s a new 12.3-inch driver display with a choice of layout modes.

The GR’s stubby widebody styling gets a few subtle modifications including a new steel mesh for the lower grille, a wider side grille and a new split-construction front bumper that it’s easier to repair or replace. At the rear a new valance improves, air flow, reduces drag and disperses heat from the exhaust more effectively. Added to the color palette is a Precious Metal finish, to add to the red, black and white hues originally available, while two WRC-inspired liveries will also be offered.

The GR Yaris has been a runaway success in Japan and Europe, but its diminutive dimensions deemed it unsuitable for the United States. That probably won’t change with the revised model, but the GR Corolla will, no doubt, benefit from the updates in due course.

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    I wonder if this has the same track day issues where the center diff overheats and the car goes to FWD mode after a long spirited session. That is the biggest weakness of the GR Corolla and ruins an otherwise nice car for track duty.

    Why did they (Toyota) thinks the Yaris is too small for the US? Did they not realize that Mercedes Benz sold those little Smart cars here? A shame the Euro version of the Yaris is not sold here.

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