the sweetest of forbidden fruit

Toyota’s New Hot Hatch Is a Tiny Ball of Awesome. Of Course, We Can’t Have It


January 19, 2020 Cars By

We in America are lucky enough to be able to choose from some of the greatest new cars and trucks on the planet, with vehicles of nearly every size, price and level of capability available for the grabbing. Still, there are a few categories of vehicles where our selection pales in comparison to other parts of the planet — and perhaps nowhere is that more the case than hot hatches.

Why is that front of mind for us right now? Well, because we’ve finally seen the new Toyota GR Yaris hot hatch in all its glory, and we desperately wish we could drive it.

Don’t think this is some simple body-kit tweak to an ordinary subcompact. The GR Yaris is the second car to come out of Toyota’s new Gazoo Racing performance division — the first being the new Supra. Toyota’s experience in the World Rally Championship helped inform the car’s direction — something that becomes apparent as soon as you start peeking into the powertrain specs.

The diminutive Yaris sends its power through a six-speed manual gearbox to all four wheels, but can serve up that power in an even 50/50 split between front and rear axles or 40/60 or 30/70 divisions of labor, depending which of the three drive modes (Track, Normal, Sport) you choose.

Speaking of power: the GR Yaris pumps out 268 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. That may not seem impressive at first blush, but that’s because you haven’t heard two additional pieces of info: a) the car weighs just 2,822 pounds, thanks to extensive use of lightweight materials like carbon fiber and aluminum, and b) those 268 ponies and 273 lb-ft come from just three cylinders. The turbocharged 1.6-liter inline-three is the most powerful three-cylinder in a production car, in fact.

Toyota says the GR Yaris can vault the car from 0 to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds, which seems conservative, given the output and weight. Then again, we in America all but certainly will never have a chance to find out firsthand, as the current Yaris isn’t sold here and the GR version uses its own blended platform that would need separate safety certification, anyway. Still, if Gazoo can make a Yaris this cool, maybe a Civic Type R-fighting version of the great Corolla hatchback isn’t too much to hope for.

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Will Sabel Courtney

Will Sabel Courtney is Gear Patrol’s Motoring Editor, formerly of The Drive and RIDES Magazine. You can often find him test-driving new cars in New York City, cursing the slow-moving traffic surrounding him.

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