New Toyota Yaris GR revealed: price, spec and release date
Four-wheel drive hot hatch is part rally car and part small hatchback - the combination is likely to provide plenty of fun...
On sale: September | Price from: £30,000 (est)
Developed in conjunction with Toyota Gazoo Racing (hence the initials) and Tommi Makinen Racing, the Toyota Yaris GR is the Japanese car maker’s hot-hatch rival to the Ford Fiesta ST and Honda Civic Type R.
The rally-inspired Yaris GR is the official homologation model for the next Yaris World Rally Championship car. It’s the brand’s second GR model, following on from the Supra GR.
This range-topping Yaris is kitted out with a new 1.6-litre turbocharged three-cylinder engine that produces 257bhp. That’s more than twice the output of the most powerful mainstream Yaris engine, the 1.5 VVT-i, and enough oomph for it to complete the 0-62mph dash in 5.5sec, outpacing the Fiesta ST by a clear second.
A six-speed manual gearbox is standard, along with a sophisticated new suspension system and an advanced four-wheel drive setup. The latter has three different modes to suit the driving conditions: Normal mode splits the power balance 60:40 between the front and rear wheels, Sport mode shifts the majority of the power to the rear wheels, and Track mode distributes the power equally between the front and rear wheels. The power split in all modes is automatically adjusted in response to the way the car is driven and the road conditions.
The engineers and designers have concentrated on three areas: aerodynamics, weight and weight distribution, with a view to enhancing the Yaris GR’s performance. As a result, it has a lower roofline than the standard model, its engine is positioned further back towards the centre of the car and its battery has been relegated to the boot.
The GR is only offered in three-door form and its bodyshell is made of lightweight materials that include carbon fibre, with its bonnet, doors and tailgate constructed from aluminium to reduce weight. On the outside, a wider front grille (emblazoned with a GR badge) and beefier rear wheel arches help the hot Yaris stand out.
Although the Yaris GR is similar in size to the Fiesta ST, Toyota believes the GR sits closer to the Honda Civic Type R for performance and character, and it could cost around £30,000. We’ll have to wait until we drive the GR to find out if its added potency makes it worth an extra £10,000 over the Ford.
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The top 10 hot hatches
A great hot hatch needs to excel in several areas if it's to be the crowned the cream of the crop.
First, it must be able to get your pulse racing on a twisty back road; if it can’t get you from corner to corner without the edges of your mouth turning up, it has fallen at the first hurdle. So, handling prowess and power delivery are key.
However, hot hatches are likely to be used every day of the week, so also they need to possess a practical, comfortable interior, have reasonable running costs and not be so firm that you quickly tire of them.
Below, we count down our current top 10 – and reveal the models to avoid. And don't forget, if any of them take your fancy, our New Car Buying service could potentially save you thousands.
10. Audi RS3
The RS3 isn't the sharpest hot hatch to drive, but it is still incredibly fast, thanks to a 394bhp 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine that's also used in the TT RS sports car. Four-wheel drive ensures it has incredible all-weather pace, and its interior is the most opulent of any hot hatch.
9. Volkswagen Polo GTI
Few manufacturers have as much hot hatch pedigree as Volkswagen, but the hot Polo might not be the first model to spring to mind. It should be on your wish list if you're after a compact hot hatch, though, because it's an accomplished all-rounder that's comfortable and has a good driving position.
8. Mercedes-AMG A35
If the bonkers A45 is too much for you, AMG's entry-level hot hatch, the A35, is a pretty tasty choice that provides a lot of performance for much less cash. A grippy chassis and classy interior add to its appeal.
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