Toyota Yaris GR

Toyota GR Yaris, 2020, front
Toyota GR Yaris, 2021, front
Toyota GR Yaris, 2021, side
Toyota GR Yaris, 2021, rear
Toyota GR Yaris, 2021, interior
Toyota GR Yaris, 2021, boot

AS soon as you get behind wheel of the Toyota Yaris GR you realise it's something special.

And it's a feeling obviously shared by the judges of the 2021 UK Car of the Year Award who recently awarded this dynamic pocket rocket the title.

The Yaris GR had already won the Performance Car of the Year category but took the top accolade despite strong competition from the likes of BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Land Rover.

Created with the experience Toyota has gained in the World Rally Car Championship and developed with the help of top rally drivers the GR is one of the quickest, most agile small cars ever produced.

It's loosely based on the new Yaris hatchback yet the similarities are few and far between.

In fact the only parts that are common to both cars are the front and rear lights, door mirrors and aerial.

And while the family hatchback is a five door the GR is - in true World Rally Championship style - a three-door.

Its dramatic styling ensures it's a car which looks as if it's on the move even when it's parked.

Power comes from a specially developed lightweight 1.6-litre tubo-charged engine - the world's most powerful three cylinder engine - which pumps out a whopping 257bhp.

That's enough to push this little car to 62 miles per hour in just 5.5 seconds and on to a top speed of 143 mph.

The scintillating performance is partly due to the car's power to weigh ratio as many of the body panels are aluminium and the roof is carbon fibre.

And that carbon fibre roof panel sits 95mm lower at the rear than the standard hatchback to increase the airflow hitting the spoiler on the top of the rally-style tailgate to generate extra down force and improve grip.

Add to that a permanent all-wheel drive system and you have a little car which hangs on leech-like to every twist and turn in the road even when pushed to the limit.

It's a car which slithers through the tightest of bends as if it wasn't there without any sign of roll or deviation from where you point it.

The GR is a car which puts an instant smile on your face as it delivers an explosion of power in every gear. In fact there's so much power that on start up you get an "avoid excessive acceleration due to temperature" warning flashing up until the engine's reached normal operating temperature.

It's certainly a car which regularly inspired me to take the long way home.

The sporting interior is dominated by smart leather and suede rally seats with integral headrests.

Slightly oversized dials with easy to read white figures and red pointers sit immediately in front of the driver with a 4.2-inch TFT colour information display between them.

And as with more and more cars switches are few and far between with most operations carried out on a touch screen set high on the centre of the dashboard.

The gear shift sits high on the centre console for fast action and the changes are short and smooth.

Close by is a dial which allows you to switch from normal mode to sport or event track.

Opt for sport and you get more of the power going to the rear wheels to help sharpen the steering while track mode equally distributes power to all four wheels to make the most of the active torque split AWD system.

The Yaris GR is the closest thing to a World Rally Car on the streets today but it's packed with all the safety features you would expect on an upmarket family car so if you enjoy driving it offers the best of all worlds.

FAST FACTS

Toyota Yaris GR

Price: £33,495

Mechanical: 257bhp, 1,618cc, 3cyl petrol engine driving all wheels via six speed manual gearbox.

Max Speed: 143 mph

0-62mph: 5.5 secs

Combined MPG: 34.3

Insurance Group: 35

C02 emissions: 186g/km

Bik rating: 37%

Warranty: 5yrs/100,000 miles

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