How do you make one of the hottest hot hatches of all-time even better? That was the question facing Toyota engineers when they took the standard GR Yaris and gave it the Rallye treatment.
The GR Yaris Rallye is powered by the same 1.6-litre, single-scroll turbocharged, three-cylinder petrol engine in the GR Yaris, and still produces 200kW and 370Nm that propels the car from standstill to 100km/h in 5.2 seconds. The grunty 3-pot engine, which sounds like a tractor on startup, is a lot of fun when you chase the revs and hits it’s straps above 6,000rpm with the exhaust taking on a raspy note as you approach the 7,400 rpm redline. My children report that it was loud in the back seats, but as you cannot turn off the Active Noise Control it’s hard to say where the fake noise ends and the true voice starts?
There are three drive modes – Normal, Track and Sport – that apportion different ratios of front and rear drive according to the mode selected with maximum 60/40, 30/70 and 50/50 splits respectively. The official combined cycle fuel consumption is 7.6 litres/100km and for my week I used 10.5 litres/100km.
To start the Rallye you need to press the clutch and brake first and then hit the GR Sport logo on the start button. The power is delivered to all four wheels through the GR-FOUR all-wheel drive system via a six-speed manual gearbox with rev-matching on up and down shifts. The clutch in the Rallye is light and I didn’t miss any shifts in the slick six-speed box.
The improvements bestowed on the GR Yaris Rallye include upgraded front MacPherson strut suspension with stiffer springs and anti-roll bars. There is no hiding that the ride in the Rallye is harsh, so if you need to take your mother for a drive, like I did, she will most likely complain about this.
The two Torsen limited-slip differentials on the GR Yaris Rallye control torque distribution between the left and right wheels to deliver natural and direct car control with enhanced stability, cornering performance and grip. To further improve handling and traction, the GR Yaris Rallye is equipped with lightweight, high-strength 18-inch BBS forged alloy wheels with a 10-spoke design. All of which I was unable to test due to the lack of any racetrack time in the Rallye.
GR Yaris Rallye features the same three-door body shell as the standard GR Yaris with its muscular design and lightweight architecture including a carbon-fibre roof and Aluminium panels for the doors, bonnet and tailgate. But the Rallye is distinguished by bespoke Frosted White crystal pearl paint and bright red brake callipers bearing the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing logo. A uniquely numbered GR Yaris Rallye plaque adorns the centre console with an additional Rallye badge on the rear hatch.
On the inside the synthetic leather-accented sports front seats with large bolsters, red stitching and perforated Ultrasuede inserts support you during your enthusiastic driving sessions. While the small-diameter leather-wrapped heated steering wheel, leather-wrapped gear shifter and manual handbrake, and Aluminium pedals add to the driving experience. The large speedo and tacho dials sit either side of a 4.2-inch display that offers an array of details including turbo pressure and gear-shift indicators.
Both front seats are heated, with the driver’s seat getting manual recline, forward/back and height adjustment and the passenger seat just manual recline and forward/back adjustment. Like the GR Yaris I still felt like I was sitting up too high in this hot hatch and wished I could be sitting a couple of inches lower down.
Standard equipment includes dual-zone climate-control air-conditioning, smart entry and start, 8-speaker JBL audio, an advanced multimedia system and a 7-inch touchscreen display, with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Other media sources available include AM/FM, DAB, USB, Bluetooth and Miracast. The infotainment system can be accessed by pressing the voice control button on the steering wheel and like other Toyotas this has a masculine looking silhouette on it. The voice control worked well for me when I was making phone calls, but not for setting a destination on the sat nav, which didn’t work for me at all.
The cubby for your phone is located at the top of the dash just under the infotainment screen with the USB and 12V outlet located in front of the gear shifter. The cubby is relatively shallow and made from hard plastic so if you are cornering hard, you may find that your phone slides out. Other than that the storage options in the Rallye are limited to two rigid cup holders in the centre console and drink bottle storage in the front door cubbies.
The GR Yaris Rallye is designed to access the rear seats from the passenger side because when you recline this seat you can push on it to move it forward and this doesn’t happen with the driver’s side seat. The rear seats are unsuitable for adults due to limited head room and tight leg room but my tween-sized children fitted in OK though. There are two ISOFIX/two rear tether child seat restraint points and I felt if these were fitted that it would be difficult to lift a child in and do up the seat belts due to the small gap available even when the front seat is fully forward. There are no rear central air vents, but I could feel the air from the front vents when I was trying out the back seats, also no USB ports and no drink bottle holders either.
The boot has manual opening/closing and is small, you’d be lucky to fit a small weekly shop in and I had to put some shopping on the back seat to fit it all in. There are no tie down points, hooks, 12V outlet or a light, so the only thing you will find in there is a tyre repair kit under the boot floor. Should you need some more storage space the rear seats have a 40:60 split fold mechanism.
Both the GR Yaris and the GR Yaris Rallye are excluded from the 5-star ANCAP safety rating of the standard Toyota Yaris. However, the GR Yaris Rallye does feature the latest Toyota Safety Sense technologies though including a pre-collision safety system with autonomous emergency braking, intersection assistance, high-speed adaptive cruise control, lane trace assist and road-sign assist. Other safety features include emergency steering assist, auto high beam, blind spot monitor, head-up display, reversing camera with rear sensors, auto lights, auto wipers and six airbags.
The GR Yaris Rallye is covered by the five-year Toyota Warranty Advantage, seven-year Toyota Warranty Advantage Extended Engine and Driveline, and capped-price servicing for the first six services within a 6-month/10,000km interval at $260 each.
At time of launch, GR Yaris Rallye was limited to 250 examples and the majority of these were expected to be delivered by the end of 2021. There has been no official update since June 2021 when Toyota Australia placed a temporary pause on receiving future orders for GR Yaris while continuing to negotiate to secure further supply. As tested with Premium Paint the GR Yaris Rallye that I drove was $55,075 plus on-road costs. Contact your preferred Toyota dealer to determine the current status of GR Yaris Rallye availability.
|The characterful engine||Driving position feels too high|
|The muscular exterior design||Ride will be too harsh for some|
|The 6-speed manual gearbox||Limited availability|
Photographs by Driven Women Magazine.