2021 Toyota GR Yaris first drive review: Little hottie packs a punch – Roadshow

ogi1 toyota gr yaris first drive 002

Let’s begin with one thing that I do not actually discuss within the video that accompanies these phrases: The on a regular basis. The humdrum. The journey to and from the nine-to-five. I truly did fairly a lot of boring miles within the little Toyota GR Yaris over the week that it was in my care. No, the miles weren’t boring as a result of the automobile itself is a yawn, it is simply tough to make motorways significantly satisfying.

However what was spectacular is that one thing which appears to have been so clearly designed to offer quick enjoyable down twisty items of tarmac, truly offers with the remainder of life very effectively, too. While you’re merely puttering about, you are not drowned out by extreme highway noise and the engine is nearly disappointingly quiet. (I truly had a number of occasions when I discovered I used to be cruising in fifth fairly than sixth gear however merely hadn’t seen the sound of the upper revs.) You do not really feel such as you’re continually coping with heavy controls, both, so the GR Yaris would not go away you feeling drained on the finish of a journey. The trip would not crash or jolt; it is agency, do not get me mistaken, however it is not harsh. The seat is cozy, too, though I want it was set decrease.

The Yaris’ large display in the course of the sprint might trigger some issues when it comes to blind spots, however it’s good and straightforward to look at or contact if you’re driving. Radar cruise management and lane-keeping help appear anathema to a automobile of this type, however some folks will most likely put them into considerably extra common use than the GR’s Observe Mode.

Then there are the stalks (I promise I will discuss some flat-out-over-a-crest-into-a-90-degree-left stuff in a minute), that are about as primary because it’s attainable to be. Strong 1990s tech. To go between high-beam and low-beam lights, the left-hand stalk acts like a easy toggle swap. Flick away, pull again. Immediate response. No matrix stuff to get caught up in, no delay within the system, no fiddly buttons on the steering wheel. Good. The dials on the sprint have an analogous old-school simplicity to them and, in a world the place screens are the norm, they appear remarkably simple to know.

What’s not so sensible is that the 13-gallon gasoline tank drains rapidly. The onboard pc means that 40 miles per gallon is feasible on the freeway, however that drops as quickly as you come off onto something even mildly fascinating, just because the automobile encourages you to make use of the revs a lot. The hatchback can be small and the rear headroom (to not point out the benefit of entry to the again seats) was definitely designed for the World Rally Crew’s aerodynamics division, not precise adults. Not that I am suggesting the rally staff is infantile. what I imply.

In brief, for the truth that this automobile primarily was made so its rally counterpart can exist, the GR Yaris could be a simple automobile to dwell with on a day-to-day foundation.

The Yaris has a clear, purposeful inside.


However what concerning the occasions when you end up on a very good little bit of highway? Effectively, the GR Yaris is a automobile that wants no encouragement. It feels keen and able to entertain the second you wish to drop a gear and hurl it right into a nook. The gearshift is a corker, with a snappily quick throw and a beautiful, burly sense of mechanical connection. You end up utilizing it rather a lot, too, as a result of the 1.6-liter, three-cylinder turbo engine scampers by means of the revs. In truth it is so enthusiastic in the way in which it accelerates that you’d swear it was placing out greater than the quoted 257 horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque.

By a set of corners the Yaris feels wanting wheelbase, nearly to the extent of seeming wider than it’s lengthy. It has that beautiful small automobile feeling of being splendidly wieldy and fast to react. It has the kind of tiny hot-hatch fervor that makes you wish to pull the handbrake in each vaguely empty parking zone.

The general dealing with stability with the GR-4 all-wheel-drive system is fascinating, as a result of even in its rear-biased setting (Sport), it feels tuned for traction fairly than throttle adjustability. For those who get the entrance attached early and pile on the torque on the exit of a nook, it feels properly rear-driven in the way in which it hundreds up the again axle and slingshots you out of a bend. It at all times feels prefer it’s snapping the automobile straight fairly than desirous to oversteer. You may get a number of levels of slip, however it’s not likely ever sufficient to require correction. It is extra environment friendly than entertaining (though on a observe it could show to be a unique story).

This automobile exists so its racing counterpart can exist.


The one dynamic space the place I’d undoubtedly prefer to see a little bit of enchancment although is the texture from the entrance finish. I discover it arduous to essentially decide by means of the steering wheel how a lot grip is obtainable on the entrance tires. In a automobile this agile, that may make it tough to essentially push on with confidence and composure. I would truly be intrigued to strive a model with out my tester’s Circuit Pack to see if a bit extra compliance within the suspension and the dearth of a torsen limited-slip differential makes the entrance finish barely simpler to learn on the highway. It’d even make the rear really feel a bit extra cell on turn-in.

General, although, the GR Yaris is a substantial amount of enjoyable, significantly on the value it has been pitched at: a whisker below £30,000 within the UK. (No, the US will not get this one, although a unique, Corolla-based GR hatch is in the works.) It is going to be fascinating to pitch the Yaris in opposition to a few of its excessive sizzling hatch rivals and see the way it stacks up dynamically, however one factor none of them could have is the feel-good issue of being designed with race homologation in thoughts. And I do suppose that counts for one thing. 

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Henry Catchpole