Ever since the Toyota GR Yaris failed to thrill the judges at MOTOR Performance Car of the Year 2021, we have had a burning desire to get our hands on the improved Rallye variant to see if it makes up for the standard car’s shortcomings.
Well, we have some good news, as MOTOR recently had both the Rallye and base GR to ourselves for a week.
As such the task is a simple one: do the modifications fix the GR Yaris’s handling issues and, if so, are they worth the extra coin?
To ascertain this we’ve decamped to the tight, twisting and heavily undulating Bryant Park hillclimb circuit, a favoured venue for testing performance cars that have at least one foot in the real world.
It’s essentially a miniature tarmac rally stage, so should be perfect for providing the answers we need. First I drove the GR Yaris to set both a time and experiential benchmark, then followed suit in the Rallye.
You can watch the video above to see how things fared, but the stopwatch reveals the extent of the improvement.
Whereas the standard car was a frustrating wrestle over seven or eight laps in an attempt to coax a tenth or two from the package, the Rallye immediately goes 3.1sec quicker on its first flyer, increases that to 3.2sec on its next two before a final, tidier lap nets a 1:01.8sec result for a total gain of 3.4sec.
That is massive on what is essentially a 60sec circuit and just a tenth behind the time recorded by the Mercedes-AMG A45 S earlier this year.
A look at the data makes it immediately obvious where time is being made – everywhere.
In a lot of corners the actual minimum speeds aren’t a million miles apart – sometimes only two or three km/h – but whereas the standard car’s traces are a pronounced ‘U’ the Rallye’s are a nice ‘V’ courtesy of it getting in and out of corners so much more efficiently.
A lap of Haunted Hills comprises 15 corners and, given what we know of the lap times, the Yaris GR is 5.5 per cent slower than its Rallye sibling.
We sampled speeds at 15 waypoints around the circuit and the Rallye was quicker in 14 of them, sometimes dramatically so.
In most of the slower corners of the circuit the gap was marked at apex. At the descriptively titled ‘Oh Shit!’, the bottom hairpin, the Rallye’s superior turn-in saw it carrying 8.5 per cent more speed at apex.
The steep uphill scrabble of a left-hander onto the back straight is almost perfect for bleeding drive through an open diff and here the Rallye realises a 12 per cent speed advantage, which then levels to a 5.8 per cent advantage at peak speed along that ascending straight.
The final corner, a long right-hand hairpin with no runoff, sees the Rallye cornering 2.9km/h (or 6.3 per cent) quicker at apex, and hooking up better for the lunge to the line.
At the end, the best the standard GR Yaris could manage was a 1:05.20, while the Rallye improved the benchmark to 1:01.80.
Want to read the full rundown of how the Rallye compares to the standard GR Yaris? Make sure to pick up the most recent issue of MOTOR, on sale now!
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