Toyota alchemized the newest Yaris into a street-legal, 268-horsepower pocket rocket in order to homologate it in the World Rally Championship (WRC). It's not going to sell the model here, partly because our Yaris is completely different from the one sold abroad, but it hinted there's a second, America-bound hot hatch in the pipeline.
"While the GR Yaris isn't coming to the United States, perhaps it's time the United States got a Toyota hot hatch to call its own. One that continues to push the boundaries of performance. And one that can only come from Toyota Gazoo Racing," the company wrote on a page of its American website dedicated to the rally-bred Yaris. It also posted the same message — and a photo of the GR Yaris going sideways — on its official Twitter account.
The past few months have been full of lust and clamoring for a U.S. version of the Toyota GR Yaris that debuted at this year's Tokyo Auto Salon for markets including Japan and Europe. Platform differences between our Yaris and the overseas model prevent all the possibilities here. However, one of Toyota's U.S. execs told Car and Driver in February that the automaker had "an answer" for our cravings, without specifying a model. C/D guessed the exec meant a hot Corolla, while other outlets put the C-HR up for candidacy. A new report in C/D says the Corolla is the one to get the hot hatch makeover, arriving here by 2022, the same year as the Corolla-based crossover leaked in a dealer presentation. Working with the same 1.6-liter turbocharged three-cylinder as in the GR Yaris, the Corolla will make 257 horsepower and well over 200 pound-feet of torque. The same engine is tuned to 268 hp and 273 pound-feet of torque for the Japanese GR Yaris, and 257 hp with 266 lb-ft in Europe.
Although we're already talking about a much peppier Corolla thanks to the engine swap alone, we should expect a GR Corolla could be a noticeably less aggressive animal than the GR Yaris. C/D doesn't believe the latter car's World-Rally-Championship-inspired all-wheel drive will make it here, a feature that helps the supermini get from zero to 62 miles per hour in 5.5 seconds, and the GR Yaris can be optioned with limited slip differentials on front and rear axles. That Corolla must make do sending its power to the front axle. Furthermore, the GR Yaris two-door weighs 2,822 pounds, a figure achieved with the help of aluminum hood, doors, and hatchback, plus a carbon fiber roof. The max curb weight for the standard four-door Yaris in the UK is 2,513 pounds. Our Corolla XSE, in a segment larger than the Yaris, weighs 3,060 pounds.
The Toyota GR Yaris is incredibly awesome. It's a specially designed version of the global Yaris with all-wheel drive, a whopping 257 horsepower from just a 1.6-liter three-cylinder engine, and it will be the basis for the upcoming rally car. While exciting, it also left us wondering how expensive it might be, since so much of it isn't shared with other models. Now we have pricing, and it starts at at 29,995 pounds in the U.K., and 33,200 Euros in Germany. Adding front and rear limited-slip differentials bumps the U.K. price to 33,495 pounds (German option pricing wasn't announced). Regardless, at current exchange rates that comes to about $37,000 to $38,000 for the base model and $43,355 for the high-performance variant.
Now that does sound pricey for such a tiny car, even with its wicked powertrain, but direct currency conversions don't tell the whole story. When compared to U.K. and European prices of other hot hatchbacks, it's actually a bit of a bargain. In fact, in the U.K. the 2020 VW GTI, only available with a dual-clutch transmission and performance package for this last year of the current model, starts at around 33,000 pounds. The Honda Civic Type R starts about 32,000 pounds. Only the Hyundai i30 N, comparable to our Veloster N, is priced under 26,000 pounds, but to get the high-output one with limited-slip differential you'll need about 29,000 pounds. In Germany, the gulf is even larger between the Yaris and the Civic Type R and i30 N, which start at 38,000 Euros and 35,000 Euros respectively.
The 268-horsepower Toyota GR Yaris joined the list of forbidden fruits we can't get in the United States when it made its global debut at the 2020 Tokyo Auto Salon. The online petition to bring the car here didn't change the company's mind, but product planners have another plan to satisfy motorists seeking a seriously quick hatchback.
Toyota has "an answer" for the GR Yaris (pictured) that's better tailored to the American market, according to Bob Carter, the firm's executive vice president of sales. Speaking to Car & Driver, he explained it's not going to be a federalized version of the rally-bound model sold overseas because the car it's based on isn't available on our shores. The Yaris we get is a re-badged Mazda2 that shares no major parts with the fourth-generation hatchback sold overseas, so giving it World Rally Championship-like power would be easier said than done.