The new Toyota GR Yaris has earned high praise from one of the world’s top rally drivers, after Elfyn Evans took the wheel of the high-performance hatch at Goodwood SpeedWeek.
“It’s great, it’s a whole load of fun and really does feel like a rally car in miniature,” said the Welshman who currently leads the World Rally Championship’s drivers’ title race with Toyota Gazoo Racing.
“I’ve driven some hot hatches in my time, but not a ‘homologation special’ like this and I can tell you I am very, very impressed,” he enthused. “It’s a kind of a raw driving experience, but the great thing is it’s a car you can use day-to-day, then play with the settings to make it like a genuine rally car.”
Evans swapped his regular Toyota Yaris WRC car to give the GR Yaris its UK driving debut on Goodwood’s specially prepared rally stage last weekend (16-18 October), where it served as the “zero” car to check the course prior to each run.
The GR Yaris has been developed drawing directly on the championship-winning experience and know-how of Toyota Gazoo Racing and its WRC partner Tommi Mäkinen Racing. Its rally-born pedigree is witnessed in a specially developed platform; a new 1.6-litre, three-cylinder turbo engine producing 257bhp and 360Nm of torque; and new GR Four permanent, adjustable all-wheel drive system. Weighing just 1,280kg, it can move from rest to 62mph in 5.5 seconds.
“There’s loads you can do to set the car up for yourself,” Evans added, “that’s one of the things that really surprised and impressed me. Toyota has really tried to bring in elements from the rally car and it’s worked. And on top of that, the power is very, very impressive from such a small engine.”
The car showed just some of its potential on the Goodwood SpeedWeek stage, as Evans explained: “A twistier stage would have let us find out more about what the car can do, but from the drive I had it is fantastic. There was one section of the rally stage where you had to come in and drift the car in a 360-degree donut. The first time, I didn’t know what to expect. I yanked on the handbrake and it drifted perfectly – I was so happy I could still be there doing it now.”
The Toyota GR Yaris is available to order now, with first deliveries to customers from November.