Toyota’s tiny terror looks for redemption after the GR Yaris’ efforts at PCOTY last year. With a new category, and much tighter competition, the fully-loaded GR Yaris Rallye swings into sixth place at Sports Car of the Year 2022
The GR Yaris Rallye is bowling downhill towards an ascending open right-hander and there’s a big compression at the bottom. I see it from afar, a large patch of loose gravel strewn across the road. Pre-emptive lock is wound on, and I tense in apprehension of terminal understeer. And it never comes.
It was a different story at last year’s PCOTY competition with the base GR Yaris, whose inferior Dunlop rubber and lack of Torsen differentials saw a loose front end working against you, rather than with you.
The full-whack Rallye is here for redemption, further delivering the experience that the GR Yaris badge always promised. Suddenly, the plow understeer is far from mind and, when faced with twisting kilometers of poorly maintained Australian backroads, it feels like it’s overwhelmingly purpose-built. It’s amazing what a set of diffs, some suspension tweaks and Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires can do. Rain, hail or shine, it doesn’t miss a step. The Yaris GR Rallye simply inhales this stuff.
And it is fast! The all-wheel drive tiny tot blitzed the field in 0-100km / h testing, clocking triple digits from a standstill in 4.49sec. Bested only by the powerhouse 345kW Mach 1 Mustang around Phillip Island and across the 400m (by less than a tenth of a second at that), the Yaris Rallye punches well above its class by out-sprinting the BMW M3 and the supercharged V8 Jaguar F -Type from the Performance class above in 0-100km / h and 400m disciplines.
It’s true that the charismatic 200kW 1.6-liter turbo-triple is the Yaris’ party-piece, but the Rallye is far from just a traffic light Grand Prix hero. Both front and rear ends now work in tandem and, as Bernie noted, the driving experience is dominated by moments of pitch and roll communicated through its unflappable rally-honed suspension. It’s very fast and huge fun, but falters in overall cohesion against a tremendously resolved field.
There’s a level of idiosyncrasy to almost every interaction you make with the car. The awkwardly tall seating position remains, with Luffy stating: “it feels like you’re sitting on it, not in it”. The central infotainment screen and rear-view mirror combine to impede outward vision, real-world practicality is nominal and, with competitive drive-away introductory pricing gone, the Rallye scores lower on the value front this time around.
There is nothing here quite like the GR Yaris Rallye. It feels bespoke and purposeful in a way that eludes anything else in the field, bringing a real sense of opportunity. However, there’s a staccato jerkiness to the driving experience on the road that sharply contrasts the flow and finesse delivered by the Ford Focus ST and Subaru BRZ.
The GR Yaris Rallye improves upon last year’s effort, but with this year’s split categories, it’s a much harder fight and the closely fought midfield is stacked with talent. By gosh, are we glad it exists though.
The judges’ comments
“It’s a very different car to what we drove last year. It felt made for the specific challenge of our road loop ”
“I remember looking at the VBOX straight-line numbers and not quite believing what I was seeing”
“The engine is mega for a three-pot, but the price and the seating position remain major shortcomings”
“The Rallye is the GR Yaris that Australia always deserved. It does so much more to deliver on the GR promise ”
“Heaps of rally-style pitching and drama on the road. Not smooth, with non-linear responses to inputs ”
Such a fun car. It’s very raw and fun at the limit. High speed stability better than expected and it monsters the low-speed stuff
|0-100km / h||4.49sec|
|0-400m||12.63sec @ 172.66km / h|
|Lap time||1: 51.2|