Toyota says the GR Yaris is a Celica GT-Four successor

At the Tokyo Auto Salon, Toyota has debuted a new hot hatch that it says is the spiritual successor to the almighty Celica GT-Four. While that claim does raise an eyebrow, the GR Yaris is a potent machine that could have hailed from the Bubble Era. It’s based off of Toyota’s World Rally Championship entrant like the Celica before it, and has dazzling specs for a compact.

The Toyota hatchback offered as a Yaris in the rest of the world is not available in the US. We get a re-skinned Mazda 2, which is no slouch, but tragically, is made one because Toyota USA’s marketing geniuses decided to offer only an automatic. It’s too bad, because Toyota has been campaigning the Yaris in WRC since 2017, after returning to the sport in 2017. In 2018, Toyota won the Manufacturer’s Championship and last year Yaris pilot Ott Tänak took home the Driver’s Championship.

Introduced at the 2020 Tokyo Auto Salon, the Toyota GR Yaris was built to homologate the car for next year’s WRC season. As such, the car features a two-door body style with huge fender flares that deviates quite sharply from the dork-spec four-door Yaris. The standard torsion-beam rear suspension has been replaced with double wishbones as well.

Underhood lies a Toyota G16E-GTS, a turbocharged 1.6-liter three-cylinder generating an astounding 268 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque. The engine is mated to a 6-speed manual. Thanks to an aluminum hood, trunk, and door panels, as well as a carbon fiber roof panel, in total, the car weighs just 2,822 pounds.

Power is distributed to the four wheels via two Torsen locking diffs, and the driver can select three front/rear settings. Normal mode divides the power 60/40, Sport mode moves most of the power rearward for a 30/70 split, and Track mode shares it evenly 50/50. Toyota calls this system the GR-Four, a reference to the famous Celica GT-Four that underpinned three generations of WRC racers.

As for why the GR Yaris exists, “Toyota need[s] to get sport car back,” said Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda, who rallies an 86. “[The] Supra made a successful come back, but still, I have always wanted sport car purely made by Toyota.” The 86 was co-developed by Subaru and the Supra is mostly BMW.

Toyoda felt that in order for Toyota to be respected as a brand in worldwide, they had to build a successful WRC competitor, and win. “This GR Yaris is the sport car we made from scratch to win at world level,” Toyoda-san said. He is clearly proud of the car.

To mark the launch of the GR Yaris, Toyota is taking pre-orders from January 10 to June 30, 2020. No, you can’t order one from the US. The car will be built at Toyota’s Motomachi plant, where they stopped production of the Mark X last month. The RZ First Edition cars will come with matte black grille, side diffusers, spoiler, and rear bumper. The RZ High Performance First Editions will get additional matte black BBS wheels.ica,

There’s very little to suggest that the car has anything to do with the Celica GT-Four other than a presence in WRC. In a page titled “GT-Four to GR-Four,” Toyota conveniently forgets to mention that the Euro-spec Corolla took over where the Celica left off.  Toyota is clearly not above slapping its adored names on anything and ret-conning a performance story out of it (see 86, Supra), and to say this is a successor to the Celica GT-Four is a stretch. But hopefully it shows Toyota still has what it takes to develop sporting machines on its own.





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10 Responses to Toyota says the GR Yaris is a Celica GT-Four successor

  1. Socarboy says:

    Although a very impressive model, the most likely reasons why Toyota doesn’t offer it in the NA market are that it would be a hard sell here due to its very limited audience. Also I would imagine it would have a price north of $35,000 if sold here

  2. BlitzPig says:

    Well, I remember when Subaru would not bring the WRX here because they said it wouldn’t sell in America…

    Drops mic…..

  3. Kingtoy says:

    If Toyota would decide to make it available for order in the USA, I would immediately get in line to put a deposit on one.

  4. Mark Newton-John says:

    Well, the market for one here if pretty sparse. Ford dropped the Fiesta ST, and I think Fiat won’t bring the 500 Abarth either. And maybe Toyota didn’t want a Yaris, GR or not, blowing the doors off of those underpowered 86s.


  5. Cho says:

    Not sending excitement to the States is why I haven’t been Near a Toyota dealership since the last MR2.

  6. Mazluce says:

    I get the feeling it would sell in bigger numbers than the Supra being a proper Toyota and all.

  7. Peter says:

    This could really be my next car. Would give away my really funny 2018 Suzuki Swift Sport for it. I even hava Toyota dealer near where I live.

  8. Michael Jue says:

    The marketing people have finally gotten to the final step of the campaign to “kill the enthusiast’s market.” But I guess it’s also cultural. In this day of ride sharing and cheap day rentals, many don’t care to even drive anymore, let alone buy a car like this. Very sad, that. I’m part of the generation when Celicas, Nissan S30s and S130s, Mazda RX7s (SA & FBs) defined the “Japanese performance market in NA” and to see a car with this potential being omitted from the Toyota North America lineup is just tragic. I get the economics of it but if the car is available in the world market, why not bring at least a limited run to the US/Canada even as a loss leader or statement of Toyota’s sporting prowess? Heck, you want “marketing”…. have a TRD engineer give it a once over and put a TRD label on it. (Go to a Toyota parts department and see all of the “TRD labeled hoo hahs” there!) Ehhh, bean counters over enthusiast engineers.

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