We can talk about his “racing car” with love, whether it is a 911, a Clio RS or an Audi S4. And now, a Toyota Yaris! Behind the letters GR, for Gazoo Racing, Toyota’s sports department hides a multitude of profound changes, which transfigure the Japanese, more famous until now for its hybridization and handling than for its performance and efficiency.
Its particularity lies in its permanent all-wheel drive. Indeed, each of its wheels “scrapes” the asphalt, giving it admirable efficiency. Designed like a rally car, the Japanese can vary the distribution of torque between the two axles, depending on the type of driving adopted and the playing field used. Thus, the front axle receives 60% of the torque in basic mode, while the two axles share it equally in Track mode.. And a perfect imbalance is applied in Sport mode: the rear axle collects 70% of the torque, giving this Yaris a behavior appearing more dynamic. It is even mobile and very playful in the wet, where sustained braking is enough to make it slip.
This is also where we discover one of the advantages of the Track version, charged € 2,000 more than the Premium Pack, while it offers less. : no heads-up display, JBL audio system, GPS, blind spot monitoring or parking cameras. In return, its 10-spoke BBS rims are forged, lighter, and coated with Michelin Pilot Sport 4S, its damping is firmer and it has limited-slip front and rear differentials, thanks to which we can maintain a drift up to exiting the bend, like a rally driver. In support or gliding, turns where the laws of physics require it to slow down, the GR extracts itself by bounding up to the next curve. The chassis’s incisive steering and goodwill allow it to consistently obey, even when the optimism is beyond belief. Driving, you have to show a certain excellence in mediocrity to miss the rope. For example, arriving much too quickly! And precisely, the engine is one that puts you behind with each braking …
With only three pistons and 1.6 liters of displacement, this small block as full as an egg, kindly brutal and responding to the orders of a mechanical transmission with short stages, develops 261 hp. That’s more than enough to catch up on a slide, set real times and have fun all year round, on asphalt ribbons such as snow-capped passes or dirt roads. Height of fun : Toyota has created rear drums specially dedicated to the handbrake, which disengages the rear axle to prevent transmission jams. A real invitation to “pull the cable”…
This little Yaris scavenger, a veritable UFO at a time when the most modest GTis have disappeared from the catalogs, even allows itself to take the rear seats. It is also in this versatility that lies the strength of this small car 3.99 m long, worthy heir to the Subaru Impreza and Mitsubishi Lancer.
We like less
Endearing but not perfect, this Yaris. Some of its flaws contribute to its charm, such as its riquiqui trunk and its rear seats which are equally so. We can nevertheless rail against his gearbox control, with firm locks and precise guidance, but which is too slow in use. The driving position also disappoints: in a seat with very good support, the pilot finds himself perched high, to the point that the central mirror encroaches too generously on his field of vision. The Japanese is a little too noisy during motorway journeys and, at low speed, its three-legged engine vibrates. Finally, and this is a detail that Stan, at the wheel of “his” Alpine, has shown me on several occasions: the Yaris’ acceleration and pick-up, despite its contained weight, remain clearly behind what the amusing Alpine, yet similar in power.
So, should Alpine owners resell their A110 to be happy in Yaris? No. Unless, perhaps, if they favor efficiency and / or often travel in the mountains. Other good reasons not to get started: there will be significantly fewer GR Yaris intended for the French market than there are potential buyers there. Clearly, not all potential customers will be served.
Incredible efficiency, fast and original, the most surprising Japanese of the moment is also delightful. A collector – relatively accessible – not to be missed.
At the limit ”with Pierre Petit, racing driver
Time Yaris GR 1:10
“The engine is fabulous, it tears off the carpet! It’s torquey. The box could be guided slightly better, but the front end is devilish. Of all the GTIs I have tried, this is the most formidable. She is very reassuring, goes in hard everywhere without understeering. I would really like to try it again in the rain. Everything is there: short wheelbase, all-wheel drive… She blew me away. ”
Toyota Yaris GR: la technique
Engine: front, transverse, 3-cylinder petrol, turbo, 12 valves, direct injection, 1618 cc3.
Transmission: all-wheel, mechanical, 6-speed.
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 261 to 6,500
Torque (Nm at rpm): 360 from 3,000 to 4,600
Empty weight (kg): 1,280
Max speed (km / h): 230
0 to 100 km/h (s): 5 ”5
CO2 (g/km)/malus: 186/7 851 €
Conso. moy. const./AM (l/100 km): 8.2/9.6
Tires AV-AR: 225/40 R 18
Michelin Pilot Sport 4S test tires
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