19 February 2021

Toyota GR Yaris 2021 Car Review

When you think of a Toyota Yaris, sporty performance certainly wouldn’t be the first thing to come to mind. The fact is, Toyota has always been well known for their practical and reliable models, but in the fast-moving motoring world one can’t rest on ones laurels.

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Toyota GR Yaris 2021
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Toyota GR Yaris 2021
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Toyota GR Yaris 2021
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Toyota GR Yaris 2021
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Toyota GR Yaris 2021
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Toyota GR Yaris 2021
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Toyota GR Yaris 2021

Cue the new Toyota GR Yaris - the first everyday production car to be reverse engineered by Toyota from a pure motorsport car. The GR Yaris follows in the footsteps of the GR Supra as Toyota’s second global GR model, and starts from $54,990.


At first glance, you might notice that the GR Yaris does take its design cues from the conventional Yaris, however, it’s been jazzed up significantly and has delivered that quintessential hot hatch look by removing both the rear doors and dropping the height by 55mm to create a chunky coupe-like silhouette.

From the front, there are large domineering air intakes along with a far more aggressive front grille design. The spoiler underscores the car’s GR pedigree, while the rear wide tread and muscular wings create a strong stance and house the 18-inch BBS forged alloy wheels which are wrapped with Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres. The dual exhaust tips add to the cute but menacing appearance.

The GR Yaris is available in four exterior colours: Frosted White and Glacier White, which create a bold contrast against the black carbon fibre roof, and Emotional Red and Jet Black. Our test model was in Emotional Red and really looked the part, it’s fantastic to see something this exciting from a brand that is better known for its more reserved passenger vehicles.


It’s not all about what lies beneath the bonnet. Special efforts have also gone into the interior of the GR Yaris - the design has been upgraded from the standard Yaris hatch to create better cohesion with its rally sports pedigree.

The interior features a bespoke GR-branded heated leather steering wheel, and the seats are furnished in Ultrasuede and synthetic leather, with contrast stitching. Add to this the aluminium sports pedals and you are in a sports-car-like cockpit.

There are just two compact rear seats with a 60:40 split which are able to fold down to make a flat floor. Rear space is quite limited (as you might expect from a three door hatch), and as such it would only suit smaller adults or children.

The driver gets a 4.2-inch colour multi-information display including a turbo boost pressure gauge and a heads up display to keep their eyes on the road.
The touch screen seven-inch infotainment system is equipped with a punchy eight-speaker JBL premium audio system, which includes Satellite Navigation and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard.

Storage space is small at just 141-litres with the rear seats up, and with the rear seats dropped things improve to 713-litres.

Overall, the Toyota GR Yaris sports a simple, practical cabin with little to distract the driver from this machine’s ability to put a huge amount of fun back into driving.

Sporty yet safe

Toyota, as they do across their whole current range of vehicles, keeps you as safe as possible with the latest generation of the Toyota Safety Sense package. This also includes Emergency Steering Assist, which steps in when there’s a possible collision risk with a pedestrian or obstacle in the car's lane. At the time of this review no ANCAP rating was available for this particular variant, however in the future if this variant is tested its rating may be found here

Small but powerful

The Toyota GR Yaris uses a newly-developed inline three-cylinder 1.6-litre turbocharged engine that uses knowledge attained from motorsport technology. Its displacement is modest at just 1,618cc, but it produces 200kW and 370Nm of torque, which is very impressive.

The engine features a single-scroll ball-bearing turbo and is matched to a six-speed intelligent manual transmission, engineered to accommodate high torque levels.

As a result of using carbon fibre for the roof and aluminium for the bonnet, door and tailgate body panels, the GR Yaris has a ratio of 6.4kg per kilowatt, this helps the GR Yaris hit 100km/h in just 5.2 seconds.

The engine is mated to a glorious GR-FOUR permanent all-wheel drive system to achieve stunning dynamic performance and boy does it do it well! The system utilises several drive modes which change the front and rear torque distribution between: Normal 60:40, Sport 30:70 and 50:50 in Track mode.


The GR Yaris does exactly what it set out to do. They have created a fun, fast car that will no doubt reinvigorate the brand. It will make your journey a fun one with every turn, although that comes at a cost – it’s not the most practical of cars. The dollar to fun ratio is up there with the best on the market – the Toyota GR Yaris brings back nostalgic memories of the Starlet GT Turbo of the 90s. It’s funny how a new model can feel so familiar…

At a glance


Toyota GR Yaris


1-6-litre turbo


From $54,990 

ANCAP safety rating

Not rated


200kW, 360Nm


Six-speed i-MT

Fuel economy

7.6L/100km (Co2: 172g/km)

Towing capacity

Not rated



Seating capacity


Luggage capacity/payload


Safety systems

  • Pre-Collision System (PCS) with AEB (Vehicle Daytime/Nighttime, Pedestrian Daytime/Nighttime, Bicyclist Daytime)
  • Six airbags
  • Lane Tracing Assist (LTA)
  • Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC)
  • Automatic High Beam (AHB)
  • Road Sign Assist (RSA)
  • Blind Spot Monitor (BSM)
  • Hill-start Assist Control (HAC)

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