Toyota has finally unveiled at the Tokyo Auto Salon 2020 its highly-anticipated high-performance version of the all-new Yaris that was recently unveiled at the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show. Called the GR Yaris, it is a homologation model developed from the ground up to win the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC). The GR Yaris benefits from the design and engineering skills of Toyota Gazoo Racing and Tommi Mäkinen Racing, Toyota’s partner in the WRC.
The Toyota GR Yaris has been designed to be a rally car for the road, and it clearly shows from the way it looks. Its front and rear tracks are wider than the standard 5-door Yaris–as shown from its widened wheel arches that push the wheels further out of the vehicle for better grip. There’s also a wider lower grille for better engine cooling, while the vents at the foglight area are designed to cool the brakes. For better aerodynamics, Toyota has given the GR Yaris a rear diffuser. Large 18-inch wheels, frameless doors, and a roof that’s lower by 91 mm compared to the standard model further contribute to the GR Yaris’ menacing looks.
The GR Yaris is, of course, underpinned by Toyota’s TNGA platform, but rather than simply redesigning the body of the 5-door Yaris, Toyota redesigned it from scratch, taking feedback from real WRC experiences to create a body that’s highly rigid and well-balanced. As a result, the roof is made of carbon fiber reinforced plastic, while the hood, trunk, and door panels use lightweight aluminum.
In contrast to the exterior’s unique design, the interior of the GR Yaris shares much more in common with the standard Yaris. The fundamental design remains the same, save for a few bits to give it a more aggressive vibe, such as the GR sport seats, aluminum pedals, among others. In the middle is a 7-inch touch screen infotainment system, while sounds are played through a JBL sound system. Whereas the standard Yaris uses partly digital gauges, the GR Yaris has a more conventional analog gauge set up with a color multi-information display in the middle.
Under the hood of the GR Yaris is currently the most powerful production three-cylinder engine in the world. It’s an all-new 1.6-liter direct-injected and turbocharged petrol engine that produces a whopping 272 hp and 370 Nm of torque. It is then mated to a 6-speed iMT (intelligent manual transmission) that enables slick gear changes along with an automatic rev-matching feature. With this powertrain, the GR Yaris can sprint from zero to 100 kph in as little as 5.5 seconds, all the way to a top speed of 230 kph.
Power is sent through a bespoke GR-Four 4WD system. The ingenious system uses slightly different gear ratios for the front and rear axles and allows for a theoretical range of front/rear torque balance from 100:0 (full front-wheel drive) to 0:100 (full rear-wheel drive). This flexibility gives a performance advantage over on-demand AWD systems that use twin-coupling, or permanent AWD systems with a center differential. The GR-Four system is also considerably lighter in weight than other 4WD systems.
The driver can adjust the GR-Four’s performance to suit their preference or the driving situation using a 4WD mode dial switch. In Normal mode, the base front/rear torque distribution is 60:40. In Sport mode, the balance shifts to the rear, with 30:70 distribution to achieve a fun-to-drive quality on winding roads and circuits. Lastly, in Track mode, the base setting is 50:50 for fast, competitive driving on circuits or special stages. In each mode, the torque balance will automatically adjust in response to the driver’s inputs, vehicle behavior, and road or track conditions.
To make sure that the GR Yaris has excellent road holding, Toyota’s engineers have developed a bespoke suspension set-up that’s characterized by a MacPherson strut front suspension and double-wishbone rear suspension.
The Toyota GR Yaris will go on sale in international markets by Q2 2020 with production commencing at Toyota’s Motomachi Plant, with a line dedicated to manufacturing GR sports cars. Instead of the traditional conveyor system, the body and assembly lines comprise a number of different cells connected by automatic guided vehicles.
Production of each vehicle calls for a large number of manual processes, for which Toyota utilizes a specialist team of skilled workers. The factory design and the talents of the workforce allow for high-precision assembly of highly rigid vehicle bodies to levels that are hard to achieve on standard production lines.
With its new manufacturing methods, the GR facility is capable of handling multi-type, small-volume production, without compromising productivity.