Sedans & Coupes

Which Is Faster: A Toyota GR Yaris or a Tommi Makinen Mitsubishi Lancer Evo?

The GR Yaris’s rave reviews don’t make its lack of US availability any easier to bear. But the Toyota hot hatch isn’t the only rally-themed car kept from American shores. Although Mitsubishi eventually sold the Lancer Evo here, we never got the earlier models. For example, the celebratory Lancer Evo VI Tommi Makinen Edition. But how does the Toyota GR Yaris compare to this earlier rally special? That’s what Carwow wanted to find out.

The Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI Tommi Makinen Edition has a legendary name and performance to back it up

US customers’ first taste of the Lancer Evo came in 2003 with the launch of the Evo VIII. But the rally-inspired sedan had been on sale for roughly a decade at that point, Car and Driver reports. And starting with the 1995 Evo III, the racing versions had Finnish driver Tommi Makinen behind the wheel.

Tommi Makinen was the one who really cemented the Lancer Evo in rally history, Road & Track reports. He took the WRC crown four times in a row from 1996-1999. So, to celebrate the Finn’s wins, Mitsubishi created a limited-edition model in his name.

Tommi Makinen racing a red-and-white Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI on a snowy rally stage with photographers behind him
Tommi Makinen racing a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI | Mitsubishi

The 2000 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI Tommi Makinen Edition visually apes the racing model, Hagerty reports. That’s thanks to a body kit, 17” Enkei wheels, and an optional decal package. And inside is a Momo steering wheel, and on the more luxurious GSR models, embossed Recaro seats.

But the Lancer Evo Tommi Makinen isn’t just about looks. It rides lower than the ‘standard’ Evo VI, and features a quicker steering ratio and an extra strut-tower brace, Hagerty reports. Its 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine makes the same 276 hp and 275 lb-ft as the standard car, R&T reports. And it’s still linked to a five-speed manual and standard AWD, plus front and rear limited-slip differentials, DriveTribe reports.

However, the Lancer Evo Tommi Makinen edition has a quicker-spooling titanium turbo wheel, Evo reports. So, its torque peak comes earlier in the rev range. As a result, the Evo VI Tommi Makinen Edition’s 0-60 mph time of 4.6 seconds is 0.2 seconds faster than the base car’s time, Evo reports.

But the Toyota GR Yaris is seriously quick, too

An image of a red 2021 Toyota GR Yaris out on the road.
2021 Toyota GR Yaris | Toyota

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While tuners have further boosted its capabilities, the stock 2021 Toyota GR Yaris is plenty quick on its own.

Like the Lancer Evo Tommi Makinen Edition, the Toyota GR Yaris has AWD. And, with the optional Circuit Pack, two limited-slip differentials, R&T reports. Only instead of a five-speed manual, it has a six-speed. And while the GR Yaris has a turbocharged engine, it’s a three-cylinder engine, not a four-cylinder one.

The rear 3/4 view of a red 2021 Toyota GR Yaris driving down the road
2021 Toyota GR Yaris rear 3/4 | Toyota

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However, it’s the most powerful production three-cylinder engine in the world, Car and Driver reports. The 1.6-liter engine makes 257 hp and 266 lb-ft, quite a lot for a car the Yaris’s size. Plus, even in its heaviest form, the Toyota GR Yaris is about 120 pounds lighter than the Lancer, Evo reports.

On paper, though, the Toyota GR Yaris seems slightly behind. Toyota claims it goes 0-62 mph in 5.5 seconds, Hagerty reports. However, Top Gear’s long-term car managed to do 0-60 mph in 4.64 seconds. Plus, as Carwow points out, while the Lancer Evo has Tommi Makinen’s name, Makinen now works for Toyota—and he helped develop the GR Yaris.

How Carwow tested them

Although both cars demonstrate excellent handling, Carwow’s tests focused on straight-line speed. Both the Toyota GR Yaris and the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo Tommi Makinen Edition lined up for a ¼-mile standing-start drag race and two rolling races. The first rolling race started at 40 mph, while the second started at 50 mph. After that, the cars competed in a braking test from 70 mph.

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Based on the raw specs, the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI Tommi Makinen Edition has a slight edge. Admittedly, the GR Yaris managed to beat the FWD Civic Type R in an earlier Carwow test in the same kind of damp conditions. And, like the Evo, the CTR had the power advantage. However, the Yaris won partially due to its AWD advantage, which it doesn’t have in this test.  

Which is quicker: the Toyota GR Yaris or the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI Tommi Makinen Edition?

The Toyota GR Yaris did have one more advantage in this test, though. Although Carwow host Mat Watson drove the Yaris, the Evo’s driver hadn’t driven stick in some time, Motor1 points out. But did it make a difference?

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In the ¼-mile test, both cars finished extremely close, with identical times of 12.5 seconds. However, the Toyota GR Yaris managed to just barely eke out a photo-finish win. And it’s worth pointing out that this was the Lancer Evo’s best performance. But when it came down to the rolling races, the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI Tommi Makinen Edition won both times. And as for the braking test, the lighter Toyota beat out the Evo.

The rally icon, then, still has some speed left in it. But the GR Yaris is a suitably speed spiritual successor.

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