Nobody said the Toyota GR Yaris needed improvement, but Toyota made it better for 2024 anyway. Now Toyota's taking things further by allowing its World Rally Championship drivers to retune and restyle the car to make their own special editions. And in case it isn't clear to the rest of the auto industry: This is how you do a special edition, complete with a literal donut mode.
Echoing the Mitsubishi Evo VI Tommi Mäkinen Edition of the 1990s, the Sebastien Ogier Edition and Kalle Rovanperä Edition GR Yaris introduce unique driving modes tailored by their namesakes. They replace the GR Yaris's regular Gravel and Track modes, and aren't shared between cars—this is like choosing between Pokemon Red or Blue.
The Ogier Edition gets a "Seb" mode which biases power to the rear for easy drifting, plus a "Morizo" mode named for Akio Toyoda's racing alter-ego. With the latter engaged, Toyota says "restraint (direct connection) is maximally applied to the front and rear wheels during acceleration and relaxed only as necessary during braking." What that "restraint" is, exactly, isn't specified.
The Rovanperä Edition, meanwhile, gets Donut and Kalle modes. In explaining the former, Toyota again mentions "restraint (direct connection)" which is "applied to the front and rear wheels to ensure slide control during drifting." The end result is self-explanatory: dusty (or smoky) donuts. And Kalle mode is designed to work with a "constant velocity rear differential" that's exclusive to this edition. In short, it makes the car rotate on corner entry, then stabilize on acceleration. I'm imagining this working in the same way that let him wring eleven-tenths out of a Celica GT-Four.
In addition to these modes, both cars feature distinct styling packages. The Ogier version gets a fixed carbon fiber-reinforced polymer spoiler, a new Matte Stealth Gray paint, and blue brake calipers. Rovanperä's car on the other hand has an adjustable carbon spoiler from the GRMN model, and three-tone paint modeled after his helmet.
Both cars get decals celebrating WRC victories, commemorative plaques on the passenger side of the dashboard, and steering wheel stitching in the colors of the flags of each driver's home country. And though the GR Yaris is now offered with an automatic transmission, both cars will only be offered with six-speed manuals.
These editions will be sold only in Japan and in tiny numbers of 100 apiece. Buyers will get special VIP treatment at this year's WRC Rally Japan, where they'll get to tour the pits, meet the drivers, and watch a special stage. They'll also get their names displayed on Toyota's WRC cars at select stops on the calendar.
If any examples of the GR Yaris deserve to be called the cream of the crop, it's these. They also serve as reminders that special editions need to be more than some paint and decals; they should be genuinely special. And collaborating with racing champions is only one way to go about achieving that.
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