Autofocus: 2024 Toyota GR Yaris Unveiled
The global unveiling of the latest Toyota GR Yaris takes place today at the 2024 Tokyo Auto Salon, showcasing a host of technological, design, and construction enhancements aimed at elevating the driving experience to new heights.
While the initial launch of the Toyota GR Yaris garnered immense praise and excitement, positioning itself as a dominant force in the hot-hatch segment, Toyota viewed this accomplishment as merely the beginning of a compelling narrative. Over the past three years since its inception, dedicated efforts have been poured into enhancing every aspect: more power, heightened responsiveness, increased engagement, and an even more gratifying driving experience.
Collaborating under the banner of continuous improvement, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing engineers, Master Drivers, and seasoned race and rally professionals joined forces to amplify the GR Yaris’ core identity as a “driver-first” car. This ethos revolves around the unique experience that unfolds the moment one sits behind the wheel and ignites the engine.
The extensive list of modifications justifies the “new GR Yaris” moniker. Noteworthy changes include the evolution of the turbocharged three-cylinder engine, now delivering enhanced power and torque. Additionally, a revolutionary eight-speed GAZOO Racing Direct Automatic Transmission makes its debut, designed to facilitate lightning-fast gear changes for competitive driving scenarios.
The custom-designed GR Yaris chassis undergoes further reinforcement, while the cockpit layout and driving position within the cabin have been reimagined to infuse a more authentic sports car ambiance, be it during on-road driving or intense motorsports competition. The suspension has undergone meticulous adjustments to enhance handling control and fortify performance under high loads, featuring revised spring rates and a strengthened front shock absorber assembly.
The new GR Yaris encompasses all the elements that contributed to the original’s success, but amplified. Consequently, it vows to establish itself even more prominently ahead of the competition.
A streamlined lineup will introduce a single version in “Circuit” specification, offering a cooling performance pack with an additional radiator, intercooler spray, and modified air intake.
Anticipated to hit the European market in the summer of 2024, the new GR Yaris aspires to redefine driving excellence.
GR YARIS: THE STORY SO FAR
The GR Yaris stands as a compelling showcase of Toyota’s and its performance division, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing’s unwavering commitment to advancing automotive excellence through motorsport endeavors. Right from the start, it was clear that this was not just another hot hatch; rather, it was a vehicle intricately benefiting from TOYOTA GAZOO Racing’s triumphant experiences in the World Rally Championship, both in terms of engineering and design.
A new engine, an innovative electronic all-wheel-drive system, and a purpose-built chassis were integral components of the strategic plan. When the production model found its way into the hands of the press and customers, the reception surpassed Toyota’s initial expectations. Since its launch in 2020, over 18,000 units have been sold in Europe, boasting an impressive 99% customer satisfaction rating. The Circuit version has been particularly popular, prompting the decision to concentrate on this specification for the new model. Among the clientele are numerous performance car enthusiasts who place the GR Yaris on par with considerably more powerful and prestigious models in their collections. The GR Yaris transcends conventional categorization; it stands in a league of its own, an instant classic in the realm of sports cars.
The developmental journey leading to the new GR Yaris adheres to the mantra of “develop, race, break, fix.” This philosophy encapsulates the pursuit of enhancements, where the car is rigorously tested to its limits – sometimes, even to the point of component failure. Chief Engineer Naohiko Saito elucidated, stating, “Every facet of the new GR Yaris incorporates the knowledge and expertise derived from actual motorsport scenarios and insights from our Master Driver and race and rally drivers.”
MORE POWER, MORE TORQUE, MORE CONTROL
Upon its initial launch, the GR Yaris boasted the accolade of featuring the world’s most powerful three-cylinder production unit. Now, it elevates its capabilities even further, with a notable increase in power by 19 DIN hp and an additional 30 Nm of torque. The maximum figures have surged from 261 DIN hp and 360 Nm to an impressive 280 DIN hp and 390 Nm.
This heightened performance not only solidifies the GR Yaris’ supremacy within its class but also extends its lead over competitors, delivering an authentic race car experience that underscores Toyota’s successful realization of crafting a rally car for everyday road use.
Simultaneously enhancing engine output, meticulous measures have been implemented to ensure durability remains uncompromised. The crucible for these enhancements included rigorous testing on the race track and rally stage, pushing the engine to its limits in the Japan Rally Championship and the Japanese Endurance Race series. Noteworthy improvements encompass a reinforced valvetrain, a novel exhaust valve material, and an uptick in the D-4ST fuel injection pressure. The incorporation of new lightweight pistons featuring wear-resistant rings and the addition of a new intake pressure sensor further contribute to the engine’s overall robustness.
The upcoming model will be exclusively available in a single “Circuit” specification, complemented by a cooling performance pack. This pack equips the car with a new sub-radiator, enhancing reliability during full-throttle driving, along with modifications to the air intake and the introduction of an intercooler spray.
SUPER-FAST SHIFTING WITH NEW GAZOO RACING DIRECT AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION
One of the most noteworthy enhancements in the new GR Yaris program is the introduction of a revolutionary eight-speed GAZOO Racing Direct Automatic Transmission, presenting itself as an alternative to the established six-speed manual gearbox. This new transmission underscores Toyota’s emphasis on achieving the fastest possible downshift speed and provides drivers the option to focus more intensively on steering, brake, and throttle pedal control when opting for automatic operation.
Unlike conventional gear-shifting mechanisms that rely on sensing vehicle behavior, the new transmission’s optimized software is finely tuned to detect the driver’s brake and accelerator usage. By anticipating gear shifts based on the driver’s intentions, even before changes in vehicle behavior occur, the transmission aligns with professional driving techniques. In track testing, this automatic system demonstrated its value by achieving faster lap times compared to the manual transmission. The handling performance is further supported by the inclusion of standard front and rear Torsen limited-slip differentials.
Addressing challenges such as heat damage vulnerability and the delicate balance between high shift speed and driveability, GR engineers conducted extensive testing, including evaluations by TGR World Rally Team drivers on diverse surfaces and in various rally competitions. The eight-speed transmission offers closer gear ratios, incorporates a new torque control system, and features a compact, high-response linear solenoid. The use of highly heat-resistant material in the gear-shift clutch, along with adjustments to the control software, results in world-class shifting speeds. The automatic transmission fluid cooler is installed as standard to address cooling requirements.
The new drive mode selection function allows drivers to tailor the car for both sports driving and everyday use, with Sport, Normal, and Eco modes adjusting settings for electric power steering, air conditioning operation, throttle response, and the driver’s instrument display. For models equipped with the GAZOO Racing Direct Automatic Transmission, gearshift feel and selection are also customizable. Sport mode prioritizes response in the D range, while Normal and Eco modes strike a balance between shock and response. Sport mode, particularly in the M range, ensures the quickest shifting, placing the driver at the heart of the action within the rev band from 4,900 rpm to the 7,200 rpm red line.
Continuing the tradition from the current GR Yaris, optimal grip and traction are achieved through the GR-FOUR electronically controlled, permanent all-wheel-drive system. Developed specifically for the car, this system adjusts the balance between front and rear-wheel drive in three modes – Normal, Sport, and Track – to suit diverse driving scenarios.
INCREASED BODY RIGIDITY DELIVERS EVEN BETTER CHASSIS AND STEERING RESPONSE
The already lightweight frame of the GR Yaris has undergone further enhancements, achieving an approximately 13% increase in spot welds and applying about 24% more structural adhesive. This meticulous reinforcement not only renders the body more rigid but also contributes to an overall improvement in yaw response, steering feedback, and grip feel. These enhancements build upon the car’s already taut and highly rewarding chassis.
The platform itself was purposefully designed for the GR Yaris, amalgamating cues from the greater Toyota New Global Architecture elements the front section of the Yaris’ GA-B structure with a newly crafted rear end derived from Toyota’s larger GA-C platform.
While retaining the light yet rigid suspension systems, including front MacPherson struts and rear double wishbones with trailing arms, adjustments have been implemented based on feedback from competition drivers. The addition of extra bolts to secure the front shock absorbers to the body helps suppress changes in alignment that may occur when the upper bush deforms during high-load driving. Further refinements extend to the front and rear springs, which have been precisely adjusted to optimize performance and enhance handling control. These enhancements collectively contribute to refining the driving experience of the GR Yaris.
COMPETITION-INSPIRED NEW DRIVER’S COCKPIT
A series of significant changes have been implemented inside the GR Yaris to cultivate an authentically sporty atmosphere in the driver’s cockpit, aligning with the “driver first” principles that define the essence of the car.
Inspired by inputs from racing and rally drivers, the GR team meticulously repositioned controls to provide the driver with faster and clearer access, with direct input from race and rally drivers influencing the redesign.
Controls crucial for competition driving, including intercooler spray, VSC-OFF, and hazard lights, have been strategically relocated closer to the driver for quick and easy access, especially when using a racing harness. On the passenger side, the instrument panel tray has been enlarged to accommodate additional meters or a co-driver’s monitor.
To enhance the driver’s field of vision, the top edge of the instrument panel has been dropped by 50 mm, the rear-view mirror’s position has been adjusted, and the control panel has been angled 15 degrees further towards the driver.
The instrumentation features a new 12.3-inch fully digital combimeter offering two layout modes – normal and sport, with the latter presenting a sports performance-focused data display. The design is intentionally devoid of superfluous ornamentation, ensuring clear graphics for instant comprehension of information. In the automatic model, the read-out includes transmission oil temperature and a visual warning, complemented by a sound alarm to alert the driver when engine revs surpass the appropriate range for downshifting.
Precision adjustments have been made to optimize the driver’s posture, including lowering the seat by 25 mm and adjusting the steering wheel accordingly. A notable change for competition driving is the shift direction adjustment, where the driver now pushes the lever forward for downshifts and pulls back for upshifts, a detail championed by Master Driver and Toyota Motor Corporation Chairman Akio Toyoda, known as “Morizo.” These comprehensive changes collectively contribute to an elevated and purposeful driving experience inside the GR Yaris.
EXTERIOR DESIGN DETAILS
In the evolution of the GR Yaris, exterior changes go beyond mere cosmetic tweaks, reflecting a purposeful approach driven by feedback from professional and master drivers, as well as insights gained from the rigors of motorsport.
The fundamental package of the GR Yaris remains distinct, presenting itself as a unique three-door car. Except for the rear light clusters, antenna, and door mirrors, everything has been revisited to achieve optimal downforces, aerodynamics, and grip.
At the front, a new steel mesh for the lower grille has been introduced, meticulously optimized for an ideal balance of thickness, strength, and weight reduction. The side grille boasts a larger opening, and the lower bumper adopts a new split-construction for easier and more cost-effective repairs or replacements.
Towards the rear, an opening in the lower garnish facilitates the escape of air from beneath the floor, effectively reducing drag, enhancing maneuverability and stability, and dispersing heat from the exhaust system.
Relocating the fog and reversing lights from the lower bumper to integrate them into the rear combination lamps serves a dual purpose: reducing the risk of damage and aligning all rear lamps in a clear line of sight for following drivers. Similarly, the high-mounted stop light has been shifted from the rear spoiler to a lower position on the back door, ensuring alignment and facilitating easier customization of the spoiler.
The new GR Yaris introduces the striking Precious Metal exterior color option, complementing the existing signature shades – Emotional Red, Precious Black, and Super White/Platinum White Pearlescent, representing the colors of the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing livery.
New equipment features include the latest-generation Toyota Safety Sense systems, navigation, and a digital key. The automatic model will offer a higher specification with forged wheels, rear and side monitors, and a premium JBL sound system. These comprehensive exterior changes underscore the commitment to enhancing both performance and visual appeal in the GR Yaris.
Rally champion-inspired special editions
Toyota has announced the production of special editions for the new GR Yaris, paying homage to two of its World Rally Championship (WRC) star drivers. Named after Sébastien Ogier and Kalle Rovanperä, the Sébastien Ogier Special Edition and Kalle Rovanperä Special Edition are inspired by concept models showcased at the 2023 Tokyo Salon. The official unveiling of these special editions is scheduled to take place at the Rallye Monte-Carlo, marking the opening round of the FIA WRC, occurring from January 25-28. This move reflects Toyota’s celebration of its WRC legacy and the notable contributions of these talented drivers.