Few cars have been as highly anticipated as the new Toyota GR Yaris, our new homologation special that brings top-level WRC engineering to your driveway with virtually zero dilution. GR Yaris reviews from the UK press launch are now being published and – if you will forgive the spoiler alert – every single one is chock-a-block with superlatives.
But don’t just take our word for it. Below is a selection of excerpts from the road testers’ expert assessments, listed in alphabetical order and with their numerical rating included where applicable. To read the full online reports, click on the emboldened links.
Toyota GR Yaris reviews
“To understand this car – and you need to because you are going to want one – you must delve into the rule book that governs international rallying. Full-bore standing starts are hysterical because it sets off like a ball from the penalty spot. This is a car that made me laugh out loud. It’s uncannily easy to control and makes you feel like a driving god. Like you could win a rally. This is one of the most enjoyable and thrilling cars I’ve ever driven.
One of the most enjoyable and thrilling cars I’ve ever driven
“I’ve saved the best bit till last, though. Prices for a standard car start at less than £30,000. I can think of nothing… that represents such good value. And that truly makes this car perfectly in tune with the times.”
“We can at last confirm what matters most: that the hubbub of anticipation might actually have undersold the GR Yaris. This is a wonderfully exciting, amazingly capable and… evocative driver’s car and a very rare and special hot hatchback indeed. [It] is undoubtedly the closest thing we’ve seen in some 30 years to a downsized rally homologation special.
I wouldn’t be afraid to call it a landmark car
“The GR Yaris is of a performance breed that you might have unconsciously consigned to history. Improbably fast and composed… with a stability and simple drivability that make it indecently easy to carry speed in. And yet it’s also characterful, involving and mechanically tactile, with a chassis ready to liven up underneath you just enough when the opportunity presents.
“Even at this early stage, I wouldn’t be afraid to call it a landmark car. The commitment, effort, skill and focus it represents simply demands the attention of proper petrolheads.”
“The Toyota GR Yaris is… a car that will be written about and cherished by enthusiasts for many years to come. It’s one of the most exciting cars you can drive this side of £35,000, and as fast as a supercar on the right road. It represents the latest in a long line of Toyota’s history in producing wild but rather wonderful road-legal versions of its front-line motorsport cars.
It looks like a bona fide rally stage renegade
“You won’t ever confuse a GR Yaris with any other member of the line-up. In the flesh it looks like a proper, bona fide rally stage renegade. If the idea of a proper, modern day rally homologation special excites you then it’s simply superb in the flesh.”
One of the most stimulating driver experiences around
“As hot-hatchbacks go, the GR Yaris has had one of the most colourful and resource intensive conceptions in history, which, on its own, makes it rather a delicious prospect for enthusiasts on the hunt for a genuinely unique performance car.
“Power oversteer is available in moderation, yet… there’s a delicious amount of controllability on offer. It’s hard not to be won over by the car’s desire to punch well above its weight and deliver one of the most stimulating driver experiences around. It’s a 9/10 all day long.”
“It’s immediately clear that the Yaris gets its pace not just from that energetic engine, but because in true rally homologation special style it worries not a jot about the surface beneath its wheels. Ridges, compressions and broken asphalt are dismissed with barely a thought, the Yaris charging onwards towards the next challenge without hesitation.
The Toyota’s cornering repertoire is much more three dimensional
“Unlike a great front-wheel drive hot hatch, the Toyota’s cornering repertoire is much more three dimensional. A corner isn’t about simply getting the front to turn in and then managing traction on the way out; rather, the Yaris will rotate and then power through, the primary objective to see just how early the driver can get on the power. The answer, often, is even earlier than you thought.
“The GR Yaris is the kind of hot hatch where you’ll struggle not to drive flat out everywhere, usually with a massive grin on your face. It’s also effortless everyday transport, and deeply cool if you know what you’re looking at. Job done Mr Toyoda.”
“The GR Yaris exists because of the World Rally Championship – and Toyota must build 25,000 examples of its homologation hot hatchback to take part. Its raison d’être is to win rallies. To that end, the GR Yaris [was] ‘reverse engineered’. In other words, this isn’t really a Yaris at all. It’s a thinly disguised WRC weapon; a parkour athlete in weekend leisurewear.
It’s a thinly disguised WRC weapon
“Now I’m on the kind of roads where the GR Yaris can sharpen its claws: narrow, switchback lanes that are dusted with mud, gravel and loose leaves. And it feels right at home. The zingy engine seems unburstable, diffs biting hard as the car hunkers down over crests and compressions. The experience is intense but confidence-inspiring.
“What’s most surprising is the ride quality. It shrugs off potholes, mixed surfaces and adverse cambers like Jari Matti at maximum attack.”
The engine is a symphony of lightweight internals
“The engine was designed to meet the WRC’s Rally 2 regulations, and is a symphony of lightweight internals and Gazoo Racing-derived tech. The team confirmed it was among the many things it broke during development, giving you the distinct impression that what we’re left with is the Rocky 4 of blown inline triples, worked repeatedly to near death somewhere frozen and desolate to better prepare it for a single, life-defining purpose.
“Because between 3,000rpm and the redline at 7,000rpm the G16E-GTS is a Catherine wheel of tightly wound, trebling shove. And, boy, has [Toyota] nailed the effervescent, neck-wringing sensation you want from a hatchback weighing 1,280kg.”
“Oh, my days, this car’s got some urge. And a lot of it is at the bottom of the rev counter’s sweep, so it feels fast from the off. My initial thoughts were that a three-cylinder engine wouldn’t be strong enough for this, but they were allayed when the road opened up.
“Generally, the chassis is set up to be neutral to gentle nose-on understeer, which is the safe option in a thing with this much power and a short, 2.56-metre wheelbase. Yet, like the great rally cars of the Eighties, it responds to the throttle like nothing else.
It’s simply the best fun; driveway heaven
“You can sense that the little Yaris is just dying to be thrown at a bend and when you do it responds like few others. Outside of something with two wheels, it’s simply the best fun. This is driveway heaven.”
“What Toyota has done is design a rally car from the ground up. [It] isn’t happy shopper meets WRC, it’s hot hatch meets WRC. It’s a genuinely exciting car, a hot hatch with a real purpose in life. After all, when was the last time we had a proper rally homologation special, something we can all aspire to? Not since the Imprezas and Evos of the 90s. This, then, is a once in a generation special. Toyota has smashed it out of the park.
[It’s] the best Toyota we’ve ever driven
“Cars like the GR Yaris simply don’t happen these days when everyone spins countless bodystyles, often across several brands, off one platform. It proves what we’ve long suspected – that a pukka road-going rally car is the best thing for tackling a modern B-road: small and light, with punchy dynamics and a gutsy motor, it’s a deeply compelling machine.
“It’s a hoot to drive from start to finish. And for the performance and experience, it’s not over-priced at all. [It’s] the best Toyota we’ve ever driven.”