Why the GR Yaris is one of the most bespoke cars at PCOTY 2022

It's expensive for a Yaris, but how many other performance cars at this pricepoint sit on their own unique platform?

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One of the most compelling things about the small but mighty Toyota GR Yaris is the narrative behind it and its much-publicised WRC connection.

Although its competition counterpart’s racing program was cancelled before it ever came to life, to Toyota’s credit, they rolled on with bringing its road-going special – the GR Yaris – to the market.

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As a result, the GR Yaris feels bespoke in a way that eludes virtually all other mass-produced competitors in our sub-$100k Sports Car of the Year field. Perhaps it’s only the Mustang Mach 1, and its transformative upgrades, that can compare.

Unlike the Mustang, however, the GR Yaris’ upgrades over its mainstream counterpart are far from a simple bolt-on affair. In fact, Toyota had to splice together a whole new platform to cater for its all-wheel drive system.

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The front end of the GR Yaris is underpinned by Toyota’s TNGA-B platform which underpins the existing Toyota Yaris and Yaris Cross, and retains the standard MacPherson strut layout.

The rear end is provided by Toyota’s TNGA-C platform, underpinning the Corolla (and its incoming GR model), C-HR and Prius. The rear end of the TNGA-C platform was merged with the Yaris to house the clutch pack and differential, as well as utilise its rear double-wishbone design to better aid dynamics and roadholding.

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The clutch pack itself is sourced from Toyota Group’s own supplier, JTEKT, and is said to be both smaller and lighter than a traditional Haldex system. Another hallmark of Toyota’s AWD system is its permanent states of torque biasing: 60/40 in Normal, 30/70 in Sport and 50/50 in Track Mode, compared to an ‘active on-demand’ multiplate Haldex system.

While much of the GR Yaris’ bespoke development is hidden beneath its skin, even casual observers will notice how little the GR resembles the pedestrian Yaris. In truth, the front and rear light clusters are the only carryover parts, with the GR Yaris presenting in three-door guise, with a roofline 91mm lower and haunches 55mm wider.

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One of the most frequent points of criticisms of the GR Yaris is its price, with introductory driveaway deals long expired, $54,500 can be hard to reconcile for many would-be buyers.

Looked at another way however, and the GR Yaris delivers a tremendous amount of specialised technical development that exceeds even some junior supercars, and makes it available at a mainstream pricepoint. Good value? That’s for you to decide.


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