By Steve & Tamami Laser
The introduction of the rally inspired GR Yaris today at the 2020 Tokyo Auto Salon adds a new name to Toyota’s sporty car legacy that spans more than 50 years and includes the Sports 800, 2000GT, Celica, Supra, Corolla AE86, MR2 and 86.
In addition to serving as the homologation model for development of the next Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC car, the GR Yaris can be purchased in select markets (starting with Japan) and driven by enthusiasts as a road car, or to compete in local rallies. Since it rejoined the WRC three years ago, Toyota has captured the manufacturers’ championship in 2018, and driver’s championship in 2019.
While the hot hatch is based on the new regular production Yaris that’s going on sale in Japan and Europe, a team of engineers and designers at Tommi Mäkinen Racing, Toyota’s partner in the WRC, helped to fine-tune the aerodynamics, weight reduction, and weight distribution of the GR Yaris to help improve drivability and performance.
Focused on performance, the GR Yaris is quite different from the regular five-door Yaris. For example, the GR Yaris features a three-door body style with a lowered roof and frameless doors. Carbon fiber polymer and aluminum components help to reduce weight. Riding on a new platform, it gains a new engine, multi-link rear suspension, and GR-FOUR all-wheel drive.
Under the hood is a new 1.6-liter, 3-cylinder, G16E-GTS turbocharged engine with direct injection. Toyota says this powerplant is targeted to achieve the “world’s highest maximum output for a 3-cylinder engine” with 200 kW (272 PS). It’s teamed with a 6-speed Intelligent Manual Transmission built to handle the increased torque.
GR-FOUR AWD is a lightweight system that distributes torque between the front and rear axles governed by a high-response coupling. Using an AWD mode dial, the driver can adjust front/rear torque by selecting Normal, Sport or Track modes. Torque balance is said to automatically adjust to driver input, vehicle behavior and road conditions.
The GR Yaris will be built on a dedicated production line at Toyota’s Motomachi Plant. Instead of a typical conveyor belt, the low-volume GR Yaris will be assembled in cells connected by automated vehicles. Master craftspeople (takumi) team members are skilled specialists that perform high-precision vehicle builds.
Toyota initially offers two versions of the GR Yaris for the Japan market. The RZ “First Edition” wears a custom matte black grille, front side diffusers, rear spoiler, and bumper. While the RZ “High-performance First Edition” adds 18-inch BBS forged alloy wheels and other mods.
Note: Specifications and features for future Japanese market models is subject to change without notice
News source and photos courtesy of Toyota Gazoo Racing, Toyota Motor Corp., and Toyota (GB) PLC
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