Toyota GR Yaris: The Yaris of our Dreams

Here in the U.S., we’re used to being left out in the cold when it comes to really cool cars. Historically, Japan and Europe get all of the raced-out, high horsepower variants, leaving us to drool over pictures and consider moving abroad. Unfortunately, the Toyota GR Yaris is no exception, but here’s some information on it and some pictures to drool over.

Toyota GR Yaris

It’s a Yaris, you read that correctly

As car enthusiasts, it’s hard for us to get excited over subcompact cars. Don’t get us wrong, they are great cars and they do their jobs well as affordable small cars that can haul people from point A-B in a fuel-efficient manner. They’re just slow. And while driving a slow car fast can be fun, making a slow car fast is even more fun.

The engineers at Toyota know this all too well, so they made the Toyota GR Yaris. Actually, they made the GR Yaris in collaboration with Tommi Mäkinen Racing as a homologation model so that they can compete in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC).


The GR Yaris has a potent three-cylinder 1.6-liter turbocharged engine under the hood that uses lightweight parts and a specialized intake and exhaust system. With this combination, the tiny three-cylinder puts out a staggering 268 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque, which makes it the “highest output for a three-cylinder engine,” according to Toyota.

The little powerhouse is mated to a six-speed manual transmission that transmits power through a “GR-FOUR” sports 4WD system. The system incorporates front and rear Torsen limited-slip differentials with an electronically-controlled center differential.

The driver can choose how much power that will be distributed between the axles, between 60:40, 50:50, and 30:70 front-to-rear split.

2020 Toyota GR Yaris Drivetrain

Body and brakes

Toyota Gazoo Racing built the GR Yaris body structure from the ground up using aluminum for the hood, trunk lid, and door panels, and incorporating a roof panel made from carbon fiber reinforced plastic.

With these materials, they were able to extract a very aerodynamic three-door design. The brakes at all four corners measure in at 14 inches each with four-pot calipers and sit behind large 18-inch wheels. In total, the car weighs in at only 2,822 pounds. They basically made a rally car for the streets.

2020 Toyota GR Yaris

Japan only

It’s a shame that the Toyota GR Yaris will only be sold in Japan, however, we think it’s great that Toyota is doing what they can to get into the WRC and producing high-power small cars like this one. Toyota has to sell 25,000 of these road-legal GR Yaris’ in order to meet the criteria for getting to race in the WRC.  

They are currently taking reservations for the GR Yaris and selling two different versions; the base one coming in at around $36,000 and the higher-spec version selling for around $41,000.

That might sound like a lot to pay for a Yaris, however, taking into account the research and development that went into it, let alone the fact that it’s basically a road-legal rally car, we’d gladly fork over the cash.