The Toyota GR Yaris has officially been launched in South Africa. (Be sure to grab your copy of APEX issue 02 for our in-depth review of the Japanese manufacturer’s three-door, three-pot tyke.) Here are seven things you need to know about Toyota’s World Rally Championship (WRC)-inspired hot hatch…

1. Not your average Yaris

Toyota GR Yaris
Prominent front grille feeds air to the turbo-triple.

Bar the obvious exterior differences – GR Yaris-specific front grille, lower (by 91 mm) roof, roof-mounted rear spoiler, extended wheelarches, and alloy wheels, among other – the GR Yaris is set apart from the non-Gazoo Racing version in terms of, among others, a double wishbone rear suspension arrangement instead of a torsion-beam setup and a performance braking system, specially designed for the GR Yaris, featuring four-piston, 356 mm grooved front discs.

2. Forged in WRC

Toyota GR Yaris
The GR Yaris was developed with WRC expertise.

Developed with Tommi Mäkinen Racing, Toyota’s partner in WRC, the GR Yaris, is a “pure performance car born from Toyota’s title-winning experience in the World Rally Championship”. The GR Yaris served as the official homologation model for the development of the next Yaris WRC car, bringing motorsport technologies and design directly to road. Said Gazoo Racing Company president Shigeki Tomoyama, “The GR Yaris has been devised through our participation in rallies – something that many of our fans have been waiting for.”

3. Homologation heritage

Toyota GR
“GR-Four” badging a nod to the Celica GT-Four.

The spiritual successor to the successful Celica GT-Four rally car, the GR Yaris is Toyota’s first homologation model for the WRC since the end of production of the Celica GT-Four in 1999. Across two generations and three models, the Celica GT-Four featured in Toyota’s most successful WRC campaigns, which saw the company claim 30 victories, four drivers’ championships and one manufacturers’ title. As a nod to the Celica GT-Four, the GR Yaris features a “GR-Four” badge on its tailgate.

4. All-new architecture                  

Toyota GR Yaris
New platform allows for a new suspension setup.

The GR Yaris boasts an all-new platform. The dedicated underpinnings combines the front end of the Japanese company’s GA-B architecture and rear of the GA-C platform. According to Toyota, this setup allows for a new suspension design and accommodates the GR Yaris’ all-wheel-drive system, and contributes to the hot hatch’s stability and handling.

5. Turbocharged three-pot

Toyota GR Yaris
Inline-three is mated to a six-speed manual ‘box.

The GR Yaris is endowed with an all-new three-cylinder turbo-triple. Locally, the lightweight 1,6-litre petrol motor is tuned to 198 kW and 360 N.m of torque, available from 6 500 r/min and 3 000 r/min to 6 500 r/min respectively, for a claimed zero to 100 km/h time of 5,5 seconds and top speed of 230 km/h. The DOHC 12-valve engine features a single-scroll ball-bearing turbocharger. The front-mounted motor is exclusively linked to a six-speed manual transmission (purists rejoice!) which, Toyota says, has been engineered to accommodate high torque levels.

6. All-new all-wheel drive

Toyota GR Yaris
Torque distribution operated via three modes.

The six-speed manual ‘box directs power and torque to an all-new all-wheel-drive system. The GR-Four setup, Toyota says, is “designed to optimise drive power to each wheel, while also being simple and lightweight”. Using “slightly” different gear ratios for the front and rear axles, this system, the Japanese automaker says, theoretically allows for full front-wheel and rear-wheel drive. In normal mode, torque distribution between the fore and aft wheels is 60:40, in Sport 30:70 and in Track 50:50.

7. Pricing

Toyota GR
“GR” badging reminds the driver this is a special Yaris.

In South Africa, the GR Yaris is priced from R606 600 for the standard version and R715 600 for the Rally derivative. As standard, the GR Yaris ships with LED headlamps, complete with daytime-running lights and 18-inch alloy wheels. Further included in the list of standard equipment are an Apple CarPlay and Android Auto-enabled infotainment system, which relays your favourite tunes through six speakers, dual-zone climate control, tyre pressure monitoring, among others. In addition to the above fitment, the Rally version gains a head-up display, adaptive cruise control, lane trace and departure assist and a rear limited-slip diff.