We’re familiar with all-wheel-drive hot hatches now – Mercedes’ and the VW Group’s fast offerings mostly come with AWD – but a hot supermini with four wheels powered? Is the world going mad?
Toyota had previously issued a teaser image of a disguised Yaris prototype, with widely swollen arches and a GR-4 badge. Speculation rose that the Toyota Yaris GR-4 would have four-wheel-drive, and now this video confirms it.
Fitted with chunky off-road tyres, the car is sat on a patch of loose gravel. Master test driver Morizo (Toyota president Akio Toyoda’s helmsmith pseudonym) floors the throttle, and the power goes to both the front and rear wheels. The acceleration is ferocious; it sets off with a similar intensity to full-blown rally cars. From the video, we can also see just how wide the new wheel arches are.
The Yaris GR-4 will be heavily based on the Toyota Yaris World Rally Championship car; in fact, it’ll probably share more with the rally car than it will with the rest of the road-going range. A whole load of new and uprated parts will be fitted, and it’s thought that the changes will be so drastic that even the suspension mounting points will be different.
An all-wheel-drive Yaris is already available in Japan, and it features a more advanced multi-link rear suspension setup than the torsion beam that European-spec Yaris models get.
If you thought the Yaris GRMN was a track-focused, lightweight special, the Yaris GR-4 is likely to take that to the next level. Expect wheels and componentry to be made from aluminium and perhaps titanium, as Toyota is set to put the Yaris on a crash diet. It’s possible that the Yaris GR-4 might come with just two seats, with strengthening bars and racing harnesses may take the place of the rear seats – a bit like the Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport S and the Renault Megane RS Trophy-R.
As a result, it would bring something new to the small hot hatch class. The Yaris will be in a different league to the Ford Fiesta ST, Volkswagen Polo GTI and the Suzuki Swift Sport, and we’d be surprised if even the new MINI John Cooper Works GP can keep pace with the Yaris.
This won’t be a highly limited special edition only snapped up by collectors, though. Toyota told Auto Express that it is committed to producing 25,000 Yaris GR-4s worldwide, and an allocation of a few thousand are likely to be sold in UK dealerships. It’s unlikely it’ll start below £30,000; a high step above the Yaris hybrid, but a price worth paying for enthusiasts.
What do you think of the Toyota Yaris GR-4?