The Toyota Yaris compact car hasn't been sold in the U.S. for a bit, but it's still going strong overseas. Stronger than ever, really, with a GR performance variant in the mix. That hot hatch version has just been updated to get even more power and an eight-speed auto—but don't worry, that's optional.
Once again, it doesn't look like there are any plans to bring the Yaris or GR Yaris to the United States. We'll still have to size up to the Corolla to get our GR-Four kicks. Nevertheless, this is a sizable update on a cool car. I guess we'll all just have to make a trip to Europe, Japan, or Australia to try and score a test drive.
The basic look of the GR Yaris hasn't really changed, there's just some minor facelifting you'll notice if you look at an old one. The turbocharged three-cylinder engine is the same too, but tweaked to make a little more juice, in line with the uprated G16E-GTS in the GR Corolla Morizo Edition.
Power claims are moving from 268 hp (272 PS) to 300 hp (304 PS) while torque rises from 273 lb-ft to 295 lb-ft. Toyota says that a stronger valvetrain, exhaust valves, increased fuel pressure, and some new pistons are part of the formula. It's not like they just turned up the boost a little bit, so theoretically, it should retain some reliability—even though that feels like a wild thing to say about a 300-horsepower, three-cylinder performance car engine.
In addition to new Sport, Normal, and Eco driving modes, the 2024 GR Yaris also has a "Circuit Mode" that unlocks a few extra tricks:
|Provides controlled turbo lag reduction to improve acceleration response during re-acceleration
|Increases the speed limit so that the vehicle will not be restricted by the limiter at major circuits in Japan
|Maximizes fan output to promote the lowering of engine water temperature
|Shift timing indicator
|Displays indicators that visually communicate and support shift operation at the optimal timing
Chassis rigidity has also been increased, and some new wheel options come with that automatic.
Speaking of which, the optional eight-speed auto is probably the most significant addition to the car. Toyota's materials spill a lot of ink on the idea that this new auto trans is no slushbox, but was in fact developed from a racing perspective with the intention of aggressive driving. Supposedly the weight penalty of the 8AT is 40 pounds. Here are some important points straight from Toyota:
- While conventional gear shifting relies on sensing vehicle behavior, such as deceleration g-force, speed, etc., the optimized software also delicately senses the way the driver steps on the brakes and operates the accelerator. By doing so, it anticipates when gear shifting is necessary even before changes in vehicle behavior occur, realizing gear selection that reflects the driver's intentions and, thus, leading to gear selection that is similar to how professional drivers shift gears.
- The use of highly heat-resistant friction material in the automatic transmission's gear-shift clutch and enhancements to the transmission's control software have resulted in world-class gear-shifting speeds.
- The use of close-ratio gears, made possible by increasing the number of gears by switching from a six-speed manual transmission to an 8-speed automatic transmission, achieves driving that makes the most of the engine's power band.
- The RZ "High performance" trim level is equipped with a Torsen LSD that enhances driving force control performance through accelerator operation.
The most visually noticeable change to this new Yaris, aside from the reworked front bumper, is likely the heavily tilted center console. I like the idea of cockpits that wrap around the driver, though I can't really decide how I feel about this one. My buddy Chris Rosales called it "sad," but I'm not ready to be quite that harsh. In fact, I like the integration of the new center touchscreen far better than the outgoing "iPad on dash" setup the three-door used to have.
The new gauge cluster also takes full advantage of being digital, with a range of cool display modes like we've got in the U.S.-spec GR Corolla. The Yaris might not have the elegance of the FL5 Civic Type R's sweeping honeycomb mesh, but for a purpose-built, super-compact hot hatch, the GR Yaris cockpit looks pretty fun to me.
One thing that's particularly funny about the manual transmission model is this wacky vertical hand brake, which appears to emulate the kind you see on bona fide rally cars. Toyota's info is oddly scant on details about why it's positioned like this, but you'd have to imagine it'd offer a better angle to grab for goofy e-brake turns and slides. Hopefully, that doesn't get in the way of the shifter, but at any rate, it's a manual-only feature.
The automatic has an old-school (non-electronic) hand brake too, but it's tucked out of the way like they usually are, as you can see in the images below.
What do you think, tilted console cool or nah? I suppose the real question is: Do you go for the new eight-speed and probably drive a lot faster, or the classic six-speed manual and have more fun?
2024 Toyota GR Yaris Photo Gallery
Most of these images are from the Euro market, hence left hand drive. Don't get too excited, you won't be able to import one under current American laws until about 2050.
2024 Toyota GR Yaris Specs
From Toyota's European office:
|Track – front (mm)
|Track – rear (mm)
|Curb weight (kg)
|1,280, 1,300 (GAZOO Racing Direct Automatic Transmission)
|In-line 3-cylinder with turbocharger and intercooler
|Bore x stroke (mm)
|87.5 x 89.7
|Max. output (DIN hp/kW @ rpm))
|280/206 @ 6,500
|Max. torque (Nm @ rpm)
|390 @ 3,250 – 4,600
|6-speed iMT or 8-speed GAZOO Racing Direct Automatic Transmission
|GR-FOUR AWD system, electronic multi-plate clutch AWD with three selectable modes
|Differentials – front and rear
|Suspension – front
|Suspension – rear
|Brakes – front
|14in (356mm) ventilated discs with opposed 4-pot calipers
|Brakes – rear
|14in (356mm) ventilated discs with opposed 4-pot calipers
|11.7in (297 mm) ventilated discs with opposed 2-pot calipers
|225/40ZR18 Michelin Pilot Sport 4S
|Fuel tank capacity (l)