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Is The Toyota GR Yaris Rallye The Ultimate Hot Hatch?

In the ever-evolving world of hot hatches, the Toyota GR Yaris Rallye has been a beacon of performance and excitement. Since its inception, this little powerhouse has captured the hearts of driving enthusiasts with its rally-bred roots and exhilarating driving dynamics. The question from many people is: Does the GR Yaris Rallye still hold the crown as the ultimate hot hatch?

Credit: Toyota

Before its Australian debut back in November 2020, the GR Yaris was a puzzle wrapped in mystery. On one side, it was a passion project of then Toyota President Akio Toyoda, marking Toyota’s return to World Rally Championship homologation after two decades, with legendary WRC driver Tommy Makinen contributing to its development. On the flip side, it presented itself as a beefed-up, three-cylinder version of what many would consider a ordinary hatchback, albeit at a premium price point. However, any doubts were quickly dispelled once behind the wheel, revealing a vehicle that far exceeded its price tag in sheer joy and performance.

Fast forward to the present, and we’re looking at the Rallye version, a higher-performance variant that promised even more focus and capability. Originally limited to just 250 units, its charm has endured, now commanding a price of around $61,200 drive-away. But what exactly makes this modern-day rally car truly special and is it a good buy in today’s market?

Credit: Toyota

The Good Stuff

1. Unique Design and Engineering:

The GR Yaris Rallye is not just a souped-up Yaris. It’s a ground-up design that shares minimal parts with its standard counterpart, sporting a unique body that’s longer, wider, and significantly lighter thanks to extensive use of aluminium and carbon polymer. This results in an amazingly light car that’s purpose-built for performance.

2. Performance and Traction:

The car’s all-wheel-drive system is a marvel, offering different torque splits for varied driving modes. The Rallye version ups the ante with Torsen mechanical LSDs and stickier Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires, gifting it with even better cornering ability and turning into a decidedly more serious instrument on both the racetrack and in slippery moments.

3. Engine:

Despite its small size, the GR Yaris Rallye’s 1.6L turbocharged three-cylinder engine punches above its weight, offering the most power per liter in the world at the time of its launch. Its flexibility and drivability mean you’re not constantly hunting for the right gear to stay in the power band.

4. Manual Gearbox:

A rarity and a joy in modern performance cars, the six-speed manual in the GR Yaris Rallye is slick, precise, and perfectly matched to the car’s character. It even features rev-matching for those perfect downshifts.

5. Ergonomics:

Driving position and relationship between driver and the car’s controls are spot on, for a supportive and involving driving experience that’s hard to knock.

Credit: Toyota

The Not-So-Good Stuff

1. Practicality:

The GR Yaris Rallye, with its focus on performance, sacrifices practicality. Rear space is limited, and boot capacity is reduced, making it less suitable as a daily driver.

2. Engine Limitations:

While the engine is a gem, its small displacement means it can sometimes feel lacking in low-end torque, particularly noticeable when exiting tight corners.

3. No Automatic Option:

For those who prefer or require an automatic transmission, the GR Yaris Rallye doesn’t offer one, though this is set to change with future models.

4. Noise and Comfort:

The trade-off for its sporty character is a cabin experience that can be loud and tiresome over long distances, with tire noise being a particular grievance.

5. Availability:

Obtaining a GR Yaris Rallye can be a challenge, with Toyota’s infamous wait times and changing specifications making the purchase process uncertain.

Credit: Toyota

Final thoughts

The Toyota GR Yaris Rallye 2024 remains a compelling proposition for those seeking an authentic, rally-inspired driving experience. Its blend of performance, engineering prowess, and driving dynamics make it a standout in the hot hatch segment. While it may not be the most practical choice and obtaining one can be a challenge, its unique qualities and sheer fun factor make it a worthy ownership proposition.

For enthusiasts willing to overlook its few drawbacks, the GR Yaris Rallye offers an unmatched driving experience that’s both exhilarating and rewarding. As we look forward to more powerful versions and the addition of an automatic transmission option, the GR Yaris Rallye’s legacy as the ultimate hot hatch is secure, at least for now.


What makes the Toyota GR Yaris Rallye special?

Its bespoke design, rally-bred engineering, and exceptional driving dynamics set it apart from typical hot hatches.

How much does the GR Yaris Rallye cost?

As of 2023, it’s priced around $61,200 drive-away in Australia.

Does the GR Yaris Rallye offer an automatic transmission?

No, it currently comes only with a six-speed manual, though future models are expected to include an automatic option.

Is the GR Yaris Rallye practical for daily driving?

Its focus on performance compromises practicality, making it more suited as a secondary or track-focused car.

Can I still buy a new GR Yaris Rallye?

Availability is limited, and prospective buyers should consult with dealers for the latest information.

What are the key performance features of the GR Yaris Rallye?

Key features include its AWD system, Torsen LSDs, lightweight construction, and powerful turbocharged engine.

How does the GR Yaris Rallye compare to the standard GR Yaris?

The Rallye version offers enhanced performance features, including mechanical LSDs and better tires for improved traction and handling.

Will there be a more powerful GR Yaris in the future?

Yes, Toyota has hinted at a more powerful version with an automatic transmission option coming in late 2024.

Is the GR Yaris Rallye worth the premium over the standard model?

Yes, for enthusiasts seeking the ultimate performance and handling, the Rallye’s additional features justify the extra investment.

Credit: Toyota
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