New 2024 Toyota GR Yaris: An In-depth Look at the Revised Hot Hatch
Toyota has introduced a significantly upgraded version of the acclaimed GR Yaris, featuring a power increase to 280 bhp, a new 8-speed automatic gearbox option, notable mechanical improvements, a lowered seating position and a redesigned cockpit.
Making its debut at the 2024 Tokyo Auto Salon, the new GR Yaris retains its familiar WRC aesthetic. The devil is all in the details with the new car - the spot the difference exterior styling might leave some scratching their heads, however, the facelift hides a comprehensive going-over of the road-going rally car. This is far more than a tweak in boost pressure and extra bells and whistles.
The styling is only so familiar because the car has proved so popular, with over 32,000 GR Yaris having been built since 2020, far outstripping Toyota's insecurity about meeting the requisite 25,000 bodyshells required to homologate the car. Back then, confidence was so low, Toyota manufactured a JDM-only Yaris with the pumped-up three-door bodyshell sans any of the special running gear, called the RS, in an attempt to secure the numbers. Today, the talk from Toyota is they are so happy with the cars' success, that they will continue to build it so long as emissions regulations permit.
2024 GR Yaris; Increased Power and Performance
The main headline, of course, is an increase in output from the in-line three-cylinder 1.6-litre turbocharged engine.When launched, the GR Yaris held the distinction of being the world’s most powerful three-cylinder production unit. Now power has been increased by 19.7bhp/20 DIN hp and the driver can call on an additional 30Nm of torque; maximum figures have risen to 276bhp/280 DIN hp and 390Nm.
When combined with the new eight-speed GAZOO Racing Direct Automatic Transmission, the 0-60 mph time is slashed by 0.3 seconds. Given the Japanese manufacturer publishes rather conservative performance figures, we wouldn't be surprised to see road tests clocking below 4.5s for the benchmark sprint. Toyota quoted 5.5 seconds for the outgoing model in the UK, yet Top Gear managed to record a 4.7s dash.
The new gearbox is not just faster off the line, with Toyota claiming the automatic to be significantly second faster on track when compared to the manual variant. Speaking of circuits, all European cars will exclusively be the Circuit Pack variant with the upgraded differentials and lightweight, forged BBS alloys.
While the engine output has been raised, Gazoo Racing has taken steps to ensure durability is maintained, with the race track and the rally stage acting as the proving ground. Engineers pushed the motor to breaking point in the Japan Rally Championship and the Japanese Endurance Race series, and the result is a strengthened valvetrain, a new exhaust valve material and an increase in the D-4ST fuel injection pressure. New lightweight pistons with wear-resistant rings have been fitted and a new intake pressure sensor has also been added.
New 8-speed Automatic Gearbox Option
The introduction of a brand-new eight-speed Gazoo Racing Direct Automatic Transmission is one of the most significant changes, offered as an option for the first time alongside the existing six-speed manual. The new gearbox should significantly broaden the appeal of the GR Yaris.
In designing the new unit, Toyota focused on achieving the fastest possible downshift speed. Toyota hasn't published any shift times, but the firm is claiming "competition standard" response times in both Drive and paddleshift operation. Toyota even backed this up by competiting in the Japan Rally Championship and the Super Taikyu Series using the new gearbox. Encouragingly, the new unit weights a mere 20 kg more than the manual, and with Toyota impressively pinning to the kerb weight of the car to the same 1,280 kg, there is little dynamic penalty.
Toyota have also mapped the new gearbox with a unique midset, optimising it to focus on how the driver is using the brakes and accelerator, rather than the traditional method of sensing vehicle behaviour, such as deceleration g-force and speed. In doing so, the gearbox can better reflect the driver's intentions, anticipating when a gear shift is necessary with a calibration based upon how professional drivers operate.
To address issues including the vulnerability of automatic systems to heat damage and the need to balance high shift speed with driveability, GR engineers carried out repeated materials and software revisions. The gearbox benefits from a new torque control system and a compact, high-response linear solenoid. Using highly heat-resistant material in the gear-shift clutch and adjustments tuning of the control software further contribute. Meanwhile, cooling requirements are addressed with the installation of an automatic transmission fluid cooler as standard.
Not to be left out, the six-speed manual has been lightly fettled with its linkages strengthened, meaning a slightly improved shift feel.
Increased Body Rigidity and Revised Suspension
The GR Yaris’s famously rigid body has been made even stronger with around a 13 per cent increase in spot welds and the application of approximately 24 per cent more structural adhesive, again down to motorsport feedback. As a result, the car’s yaw response, steering feedback and grip feel have benefitted.
MacPherson struts and rear double wishbones with trailing arms remains the suspension recipe – but adjustments have been made to increase response. The shock absorbers are now mounted by three bolts rather than a large single one with the aim of suppressing changes in alignment that can happen when upper bush deforms in high-load driving. The front and rear springs rates have also been increased for optimum performance and a stiffer front anti roll bar introduced to improve handling. The forged 18" BBS alloys remain, as does the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S rubber in 225/40 all-round.
2024 GR Yaris; All-new Interior
The completely revised interior is set to be the main talking point of the facelift, with on-line reaction already proving divisive. The new dashboard is now a single panel, with a 12.3" digital touchscreen integrated within rather than a "floating" arrangement. The goal has been to increase the driver’s field of vision from behind the wheel, with the top edge of the instrument panel dropping by a whopping 50mm. Improving vision further, the blind-spot inducing rear-view mirror has been raised by 25mm.
Music to critics and customers ears alike will be the dramatic reduction in the height of the driving positon, which Toyota has cut by a massive 25mm. Alongside this, the position of the steering wheel has been adjusted to suit.
Whilst certainly aesthetically challenging, the new look appears to come with several driving advantages. It might even grow on us - we've already detected a hint of modern-day Lancia Delta Integrale or even Nissan R34 GT-R to the fascia.
Introduction of Driving Modes
New to the 2024 model is switchable driving modes, with Sport, Normal and Eco modes activating different settings for the electric power steering, air conditioning operation, throttle response and the driver’s instrument display. This means the instrument cluster is now an LCD display rather than the traditional analogue dials of the outgoing model, whihc makes us slightly sad. On models equipped with the Gazoo Racing Direct Automatic Transmission, the gearshift feel and selection are also adjusted to suit the selected driving mood.
The adjustable torque split dial remains, but the distribution has been fine tuned in each mode. In the outgoing car you had Normal (60:40), Track (50:50) and Sport (30:70) fixed modes to choose from.Now there are Normal, Track and Gravel driving modes. Normal remains, er normal, with the same 60:40 ratio. Gravel is new, sending 47% of poke rearwards. Track however, is now constantly variable, shuffling anywhere between 40% to 70% of the available power to the rear axle to optimise lap times.
Given the special three-door body shell effectively makes the GR Yaris a stand-alone model in all but name, and that shape is already optimised for aerodynamics, making huge changes would make little sense. Refinements have been restricted to a new steel mesh for the lower grille to better protect the radiator, meanwhile the side grille has a larger opening. Perhaps most notable is a new look and three piece construction front bumper, with the goal of making it easier and thus less costly to repair or replace.
Moving to the rear, an opening in the bottom edge of the lower garnish allows air from beneath the floor to escape, reducing drag. The fog and reversing lights have been relocated, moving from the lower bumper to be integrated in the rear combination lamps, reducing the risk of damage. Similarly, the high-mounted stop light as been moved from the rear spoiler to lower down on the back door so that all rear lamps are aligned and in a clear line of sight for following drivers. Moving the stop light also makes it easier for the spoiler to be changed or customised by the aftermarket.
The new GR Yaris also introduces a new exterior colour option, Precious Metal, in addition to the established signature shades – Emotional Red, Precious Black and Super White/Platinum White Pearlescent.
Pricing and deliveries
There is no word on pricing yet for the 2024 GR Yaris, but due to rising manufacturing costs and inflation, it wouldn't be surprising to see the new car cost upwards of £40,000 - but that is purely speculative. Production will begin in April and UK cars will start arriving in June. Toyota will also eventually offer special editions of the new GR Yaris, named after Sébastien Ogier and Kalle Rovanperä. Both are based on concept models shown at the 2023 Tokyo Salon, and they will be unveiled at the Rallye Monte-Carlo, the opening round of this year’s FIA WRC, which takes place from 25-28 January.
The success of the GR Yaris deserves championing. It proves the market still exists and is healthy for focused driver's cars and halo products. Hopefully more manufacturers will be as bold as Toyota in the near future.