The brilliant 2020 Toyota GR Yaris in Malaysia - not for those with outdated ideas of cars

Sanjay · Dec 22, 2020 07:00 PM

We know, we know, you really, really like the 2020 Toyota GR Yaris. Granted, it's RM 299k price tag (update: RM 286k until 30-June 2021) in Malaysia have left some saying "better buy a Mercedes-Benz/BMW/Audi" but truly, this is a car unlike those. All of them fit certain moulds, but only the GR Yaris fits in the one labelled 'roadgoing rally car'. 

The GR Yaris was launched alongside the 2020 Toyota Vios GR Sport.

Hype for this little B-segment hot-hatch is comparable to the 2020 Proton X50 - except this is on a global scale. 

Not a normal Toyota.

Exterior - angry little buzzard

These GR-Four (sorry, couldn't resist the pun) things:

  • Head lights
  • Side mirrors
  • Tail lights
  • Antenna

... are all the GR Yaris shares with the TNGA-based EU/Japan-spec Yaris (which was coincidentally spotted in Thailand recently). Every other bit of its aluminium and carbon-fibre bodywork is bespoke for maximum weight reduction and in-your-faceness. 

For instance, the bulging rear fenders add 60 mm to the base car's width, and the redesigned front and rear overhangs add 40 mm and 15 mm respectively. If you'd compare this with a 'normal' Yaris, it's definitely put on some weight in all the right places.

2020 GR Yaris dimensions
Dimensions Measurement
Length 3,995 mm
Width 1,805 mm
Height 1,455 mm
Wheelbase 2,560 mm
Weight 1,280 kg

And since it's primarily made to pound sand (in another sense) there's lots of small tweaks to the aero, including a lowered roofline (up to 95 mm compared to the standard hatchback). This revised profile is said to increase the volume of air flow hitting the spoiler, generating higher downforce. 

It's the first Toyota ever to have a forged carbon-fibre roof, saving 3.5 kg compared to a steel roof and helps lower the car's centre of gravity. 

The unit we saw had bugs splattered all over the radiator. 

The large, rectangular grille - incorporating the signature GR "functional matrix" design - feeds air into the radiator, intercooler and engine. See those deep upper and lower lips at each corners? They're smartly designed canards that help with downforce when cornering.

The rear bumper is made of recyclable Toyota Super Olefin Polymer (TSOP), making it 38% lighter than the standard Yaris'.

Meanwhile round the back, the trunk (which shape cannot be changed for competition) has been redesigned to fit the GR Yaris' lower roof line and three-door body shape.

Ventilated disc brakes are 356 mm in front with 4-pot callipers and 297 mm rears with 2-pots.

Since all 'less than 200' Malaysian-spec cars will be fitted with the Performance Pack, it gets these cool, katana-inspired lightweight 18-inch BBS wheels wrapped in 225/40ZR18 Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres.

Purely functional design. Top left shows the lips that act as canards, and the bottom and right pic shows the functional brake duct.

Interior details - hey, that's familiar!

Fantastic driving position and materials aside, look inside and one thing sticks out like a sore thumb.

Could definitely look better.

It's the big black box in the middle of the dashboard that houses the 7-inch, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay-supporting touchscreen infotainment system which is plucked from the Malaysian-spec 2021 Toyota Yaris and Vios

The black interior is livened up a bit with red stitching and like the outside, houses tons of little details you wouldn't normally notice. 

One of those is the size, shape, position and angle of the drilled aluminium pedals. They're 45 mm wide and are placed in a way that suits heel-and-toe movements. Note too there's a block on the right-hand edge of the brake pedal, preventing the driver's foot catching onto it when moving across from the accelerator.

Other than those, the small details are in how driver-focused it is. No fancy digital dials here - just a 4.2-inch multi-info display (MID) reading out vital information flanked by easy-to-read analogue dials, and everything is where you expect them to be. 

Up front, there's a new pair of seats that feature increased cushion padding and thinner backs. They're actually really comfortable. 

Fold the front seats (they don't go all the way though) and feel free to sit at the back. To answer a question hardly anybody asked, yes, they'll fit Adrian and I (both 175 cm tall) rather well, but headroom is a little, er, limited.

Rear headroom's not the only thing that's limited, the bootspace is too. With just 174 litres (improved somewhat by 60:40 split-fold rear seats), there's nothing much you can realistically keep here. No spare tyres too - the battery is mounted at the back for better weight distribution.

Oh and before we forget, the GR-emblazoned starter button can be seen on the hot Vios GR Sport as well. There, one more sporting link. 

Performance - forged at Shimoyama

Motomachi's finest is equipped with the G16E-GTS, a turbocharged three-cylinder mill pushing 261 PS and 360 Nm, paired to a 6-speed manual transmission. 

We're told that the strakes on the engine cover promote better airflow, helping to cool the engine.

The WRC2-compliant engine is the smallest and lightest 1.6-litre turbo engine in the world and get this - it's also one of the most powerful three-cylinder engine on the planet.

A telltale sign of its pedigree is this little 'Shimoyama' badge of honour. It's a callback to the engine's development plant in Shimoyama, which also houses a Nürburgring Nordschleife-esque road test track.

But the price of admission goes more than just the engine. The GR Yaris comes with the rally-bred GR-Four, super-advanced all-wheel drive (AWD) system which uses a multi-plate clutch in the rear differential to distribute torque to the front and rear axles.

Drivers then have three different settings of torque split to choose from, all through the little knob pictured above:

2020 Toyota GR Yaris GR-Four System
Mode Torque Split
Normal 60% front, 40% rear
Sport 30% front, 70% rear (slidier)
Track 50% front, 50% rear (maximum grip)

Plus - there's a rear-axle disconnect function that lets drivers yank the handbrake to initiate a sliding entry into a corner. 

All of these - at a price

In our opinion, this is probably the first and last opportunity for you to get the GR Yaris, due to its 25,000-unit limited-run status. At RM 299k in Malaysia, it's definitely not for everyone (heck it's not even available everywhere) but the ardent fans who realise the value of Toyota's love letter to the racing world. 

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Up to 20% higher than average trade-in price

2021 Toyota GR Yaris

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