It's the Yaris as we (don't) know it.
Here's a hot hatch with plenty of promise. Revealed at the 2020 Tokyo Auto Salon, the Toyota GR Yaris features all-wheel-drive, a six-speed manual gearbox, and 257 horsepower (in the case of the European version, but 268 hp for the JDM-spec) in a compact package weighing just 2,822 pounds. The turbocharged 1.6-liter engine is brand new and along with 272 lb-ft of torque, it becomes the most powerful three-cylinder engine ever fitted to a road car.
It all sounds like a much-needed boost for what is an otherwise modest hatchback, and with a 0-62 mph sprint time of under 5.5 seconds and a top speed limited to 143 mph, it's sure to be a riot to drive and isn't far off the pace of the Honda Civic Type R.
Toyota is keen to make sure that the little Yaris can handle all of that power so has also added two Torsen limited-slip differentials - while you'd expect this to add unwelcome weight, the three-door GR's use of carbon fiber polymer and aluminum in its construction balances out the beefed-up suspension components. Other modifications include a new double-wishbone rear suspension and a rear track that has been widened over the standard Yaris.
Using the 4WD dial, switching between Normal, Sport, and even Track driving modes is child's play, with the Sport mode changing the front/rear torque distribution from 60:40 to 30:70.
It would be disappointing if the GR didn't look the part as well, but Toyota has seemingly spent just as much time on the design. The end result is something far removed from the ordinary Mazda-based Toyota Yaris hatchback on sale here (the GR is based on the more modern Yaris sold in overseas markets). The aggressive detailing includes 18-inch alloys and gloss black trim, and even the roofline is lower (by 3.6 inches) to give the GR a more distinct profile. Broader bodywork, dual exhaust outlets, and GR badging are further touches that turn this into a properly desirable pocket rocket.
In Japan, it'll cost an equivalent of $36,100 for the First Edition model, and in all likelihood, Japan is where you'll need to go to experience the GR. No plans have yet been announced to bring the hottest Yaris Stateside, and what a pity that is.