A new era of rally inspired homologation special road cars is about to begin, and surprisingly, it is Toyota leading the charge.
Toyota has been teasing a hotter version of its all-new Yaris for a couple of weeks now, but Wheels has obtained exclusive images of an uncamouflaged production car ahead of its planned reveal next year.
Dubbed the Toyota GR Yaris (GR referring to the brand’s Gazoo Racing motorsport arm), the hot hatch is a homage to the company’s World Rally Championship winning Yaris race car.
While the WRC doesn’t require production-based homologation special road cars like it once did, this road car mimics its four-cylinder turbocharged all-wheel drive powertrain.
Official technical details have not been released, and aren’t expected to be confirmed until the official reveal, which is slated for the Tokyo Auto Salon in January 2020.
However, judging from the video and photos, Wheels expects the GR Yaris to have a turbocharged four-cylinder engine, with tuned suspension and bigger brakes.
Importantly, in keeping with the WRC car it pays tribute to, the GR road car will have an all-wheel drive system, along with a wider track compared to its tamer, more pedestrian, siblings within the Yaris range
The beefier brake calipers have GR branding, while flared arches can clearly be seen front and rear. Excitingly, a button on the dash between the door and steering column indicates the GR Yaris will have an intercooler water spray.
It appears the production car is riding on either 18- or 19-inch alloy wheels, which will be wrapped in performance-focused rubber.
It’s likely the GR Yaris will have multiple drive modes, controlled via the rotary dial on the centre console.
Driving enthusiasts rejoice, as interior pictures reveal a manual gearbox and old-school handbrake – the latter is a great addition given the car’s rallying heritage.
Wheels expects the transmission to be a six-speed unit, with no word on whether a self-shifting variant will be offered.
Toyota sold a sportier version of the outgoing Yaris overseas, badged as the GRMN, of which only 400 were built. We don’t expect the 2020 GR Yaris will have a production limit, and with a right-hand drive model spied, would be surprised if it wasn’t offered locally.
The 1135kg GRMN was powered by a 1.8-litre supercharged four-cylinder engine, sending 156kW and 250Nm exclusively to the front wheels via a six-speed manual, with a claimed 0-100km/h sprint of 6.4 seconds.
While the all-wheel drive system will mean the 2020 GR Yaris is likely heavier than the GRMN version, it should have more power, and accelerate quicker.
Performance alone will vault the GR variant above the rest of the Yaris range, but from our exclusive photos it is clear the hot hatch will have a very high level of specification.
There are LED headlights, front and rear parking sensors, seat heaters, lane-keeping and distance for radar-guided cruise control, sat-nav, dual-zone climate control, a JBL sound system, heated steering wheel, and auto high beam assist.
There seems to be no digital dash, with the leather and suede sports bucket seats adjusted manually.
Along with the white, uncamouflaged, bodywork, the production car has black wheels, roof, rear spoiler, and wing mirrors.
Our exclusive images and videos were obtained in the Australian Outback during what appears to be a promotional photo and video shoot, with the production cars seemingly transported in a Thrifty hire truck.
Wheels understands Toyota had originally planned to display the camouflaged car, which has rally tyres, wheels and mudflaps, at the season-ending WRC round in Coffs Harbour. Unfortunately, due to Australia’s ongoing bushfire crisis, the WRC round was cancelled.
Are you excited for the Toyota GR Yaris? Let us know in the comments down below.