Perhaps the most incredible thing about the GR Yaris is that the all-wheel drive hot hatch isn’t a super-limited edition special. Toyota will need to build 25,000 of the things to satisfy homologation rules if it’s able to enter a fully-prepped version in the World Rally Championship.
But it’s not quite that simple. It’s specifically the three-door body that needs to be homologated, so Toyota could, in theory, make up part of the required 25,000 by filling the shell with less exciting (and less expensive) innards. This might explain the appearance of a Yaris GR CVT concept at the Tokyo Auto Salon.
The vehicle was revealed with very little fanfare, which is probably why it went unnoticed to much of the world’s automotive media until now. Outwardly, it’s all the same as the model we’ve been salivating over for the last few weeks, but in the video above we can see the six-speed manual gear-shifter has been eschewed for an automatic drive selector.
Where it gets really interesting is the engine. According to CarsGuide, it doesn’t use the 257bhp 1.6-litre inline-three turbo engine found in the regular GR Yaris, rather a naturally-aspirated 1.5. It makes just 118bhp and 107lb ft of torque - a massive reduction from the rally-bred hot hatch’s powerplant. Presumably, the switch is partly due to the CVT auto ‘box not being able to handle the considerably pokier 1.6. To cap it all off, it isn’t all-wheel drive either - only the front wheels are powered here.
Toyota hasn’t confirmed whether or not the CVT GR Yaris will go into production - a company representative told CarsGuide cryptically, “We never say never on things, and the GR family is growing all the time.” Indeed, when we asked Gazoo Racing VIPs at a recent event if a lower-powered, front-wheel drive setup might be used in the GR Yaris’ three-door shell, they would neither confirm nor deny.
It is worth pointing out that Toyota does have previous in this area to an extent. The Yaris GR Sport (above) looked almost identical to the limited-run Yaris GRMN from the outside but was packing about half the power.
Do you think there’s space for a low-powered, CVT-equipped version of the GR Yaris, or would such a thing fail to do the aggressive, wide-arched body justice? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.