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BBC TopGear
Long-term review

Toyota GR Yaris - long-term review

£29,995/£34,375 as tested/£396pcm
Published: 26 Feb 2021
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SPEC HIGHLIGHTS

  • SPEC

    Toyota GR Yaris

  • ENGINE

    1618cc

  • BHP

    257bhp

  • 0-62

    5.5s

Toyota GR Yaris - long-term review

How fast do you think a car with 257bhp is these days? You can see already, can’t you? A quick glance at the spec panel tells you what you need to know – the GR Yaris does 0-62mph in 5.5secs. Only it doesn’t. 

When I stuck the test gear on it at Dunsfold it actually scooted to 60mph in a two-way average of 4.64secs. And that don’t forget includes a couple of actual, physical, feet-and-hand co-ordinated gearshifts. Now, I haven’t stuck our GR Yaris on a dyno to see if it’s a suspiciously healthy example, but actually that time looks about right to me for a car with 201bhp/tonne, because it’s a little monster off the line. No launch control, just 4WD and cracking torque delivery. To 30mph (1.46secs) it was as fast as the latest Porsche 911 GT3 RS or Merc E63S. to 60mph it's identically fast to times we’ve got from a MkVII VW Golf R or Merc-AMG A35. To 100mph (11.62secs) it’s still up there with the fastest Meganes and Civics, plus Porsche’s Cayman T. It might be dropping back slightly compared to the more senior stuff, but there’s nothing junior about the performance of Toyota’s teeny tyke. 

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What’s more it feels like the right amount of power for the chassis to cope with. But of course that’s not stopping people extracting more power from this new darling of the tuner industry. British company Litchfield has already revealed that 300bhp is easily found with an ECU tweak, and is working on a more complete package that will not only liberate more power, but also give it the suspension upgrade to cope. 

And then there’s Japan. Over there aftermarket work is such big business Toyota gave tuners access to the GR Yaris before it was launched to better allow them to work out what they were able to do with it. Now, this is a little 1.6-litre three cylinder engine. HKS has liberated 475bhp from it. Not far off double. A new turbo with higher boost pressure (2.7bar instead of 1.4) was complemented by a new filter, intercooler and pipework. That gave 375bhp, with the other 100bhp found by blowing in the old laughing gas. 

But what’s interesting is that no internal engine modifications were made. Nor was the transmission uprated. Apparently it copes just fine. Hmm. Let’s take that at face value, because if true it means that Toyota intended this sort of behaviour all along and over-engineered the car accordingly. Great news for your warranty. 

But in order for the chassis to cope HKS has slammed it and fitted track-focused componentry. And really I’m not interested in that. The GR Yaris is all about rallying. Come on tuners, turn the GR Yaris into your dream WRC car. 

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