Toyota finally prices its rabid little GR Yaris Rallye at $54,500 plus ORCs
BY CALLUM HUNTER
IT HAS taken an awful long time for Toyota to rejoin the compact performance scene after the Celica GT4 ST205 went out of production in 1999.
Sure, the seventh-gen Celica was available with a buzzy little 1.8-litre engine good for 140kW but it never got close to the heights of the previous GT4 which not only looked mad, but drove just as madly as well.
With 178kW on tap courtesy of a force-fed 2.0-litre four-cylinder and all-wheel-drive, the ST205 was a road-going rally car more than capable of scaring early WRX and Evo drivers.
The 77 examples that made it to Australian shores were badged and sold as the “GT-Four Group A Rallye” and now, 21 years on, the Rallye name is back… on a Yaris.
By now the you should be more than familiar with the GR Yaris and how formidable it is, but some may not be aware of the even more focused version, the GR Yaris Rallye.
The addition of the Rallye badge denotes the standard fitment of firmer, track-tuned suspension, front and rear Torsen limited-slip differentials (LSDs), 18-inch BBS forged alloy wheels and stickier Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres.
With the standard GR Yaris carrying a $49,500 sticker price, the Rallye version is priced an even $5000 upstream at $54,500 plus on-road costs.
That places it among the elite of the hot hatch market including the Honda Civic Type R, Renault Megane RS Trophy and Volkswagen Golf R.
Under the bonnet of the Rallye resides the same turbocharged 1.6-litre three-cylinder petrol engine as in the regular GR Yaris good for 200kW of power and 370Nm of torque, which is less than its immediate hot hatch company but more than on the ball when you consider its 1280kg (standard GR Yaris) kerb weight.
As a result, 0-100km/h is dispatched in a brisk 5.2 seconds.
Power is channelled to the road exclusively via a six-speed manual transmission with rev matching, while the all-wheel-drive system provides ample traction, particularly with the pair of LSDs aiding handling.
Not only is this hi-po little pocket rocket all-wheel drive, the system is switchable between three different torque-split configurations all linked to the drive-modes on offer.
In ‘Normal’ everyday mode, 60 per cent of the power is sent to the front axle and 40 to the rear, Sport mode practically reverses that set-up (30:70) and Track mode evens everything up with a 50:50 split.
Back in the 90s when the ST205 GT4 emerged, it waded into battle against three of the most capable and iconic road-going rally cars ever to gone into production; the Subaru Impreza WRX, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution and the Ford Escort RS Cosworth.
Despite its diminutive size initially earmarking it as a rival for the current Ford Fiesta ST and Volkswagen Polo GTI, Toyota has touted the GR Yaris and in particular the Rallye version as a rival for the established hot-hatch heavyweights mentioned above.
Countering the impressive performance figures and adjustable all-wheel-drive system are 356mm ventilated front discs – clamped by four-pot callipers – and 297mm ventilated rear discs acted on by two-piston callipers.
That 1280kg kerb weight is achieved by a range of lightweight features including a carbon-fibre roof (a first for Toyota), aluminium bonnet, door and tailgate panels while decent engine cooling and aerodynamics are ensured by a gaping lower bumper air intake and subtle roof spoiler.
To help generate maximum interest in the track-attack version, Toyota is once again offering a special driveaway deal on the GR Yaris Rallye – just like it did with the regular version – with the first 200 units (out of 250) able to be had for $56,200 including on-road costs.
Toyota Australia vice-president of sales and marketing Sean Hanley said the strategy to promote early interest in the GR Yaris had worked well, hence why it was being applied to the Rallye version too.
“Now, just as we did with GR Yaris, we want to excite as many fans as possible by ensuring this special-edition Rallye model is genuinely attainable,” he said.
“We want to continue to ignite the performance-car market, broaden the awareness and appeal of our GR brand, and support our customers – many of whom are new to Toyota.”
To ensure the Rallye loses none of the regular Yaris’ day-to-day usability, standard equipment will include automatic air-con, keyless entry and start, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, an eight-speaker JBL sound system, sports seats with suede and leather accents and aluminium pedals.
With the normal GR Yaris already being a hoot to drive, only time will tell how much better or more capable the Rallye version is, which in itself raises the question – where to next for Toyota in the hot hatch market?
GR Corolla anyone??