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Toyota GR Yaris 2021 review: Rallye

The Toyota GR Yaris Rallye is ready to rumble.
EXPERT RATING
7.9
Just when you though the GR Yaris was the ultimate Toyota hot hatch, along comes the Rallye to up the go-fast ante again. An already-hot hot hatch fitted with even more performance equipment? Sounds like a good deal to us.

I don't know why we're so surprised, really. When the world's biggest car maker decides to do something, it probably shouldn't shock us when it does that thing well. 

But it's more the size of the gap between the Toyota of yesterday and the snarling, snapping GR Yaris Rallye that's burbling away in front of me that shocks, with this boiling-hot hatch lightyears away from the Camrys and Corollas of old.

We know the GR Yaris, of course. We've reviewed it both overseas and locally, and we've roundly loved it every time we've jumped behind the wheel. 

But this Rallye ups the ante even further, adding critical race-bred equipment like 18-inch BSB lightweight forged alloy wheels, shod with Michelin 4S tyres, retuned, stiffer suspension, and most important, front and rear Torsen limited-slip differentials.

This is the ultimate "track-ready" Yaris, says Toyota. So that's exactly where we took it. 

Toyota GR Yaris 2021: Rallye
Safety rating
Engine Type1.6L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency7.6L/100km
Seating4 seats
Price from$54,500

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   8/10

Prepare to have your idea of how much you'd pay for a three-door Toyota city car completely rearranged, because the GR Yaris Rallye is not cheap.

How much, you ask? Initially offered at $56,200 drive-away as part of a launch push, the Rallye has now settled at its regular MSRP of $54,500 plus on-roads. 

That's a sizeable step up from the $49,500 (before on-road costs) of the regular GR Yaris, but it's a price increase justified by the extra performance kit.

The Rallye is priced at $54,500 plus on-roads.  The Rallye is priced at $54,500 plus on-roads. 

And a good thing, too, because it shares much of its other equipment with its GR sibling. 

There's a leather-wrapped steering wheel and manual shifter and aluminium pedals, for example. There's a 4.2-inch screen in the driver's binnacle, and there's a second 7.0-inch touchscreen in the centre of the cabin that gets Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which pairs with an eight-speaker JBL stereo. You also get dual-zone climate control, and keyless entry.

Most important, though, you get more go-fast stuff, like those lightweight alloys, he two Torsen limited-slip differentials (one on each axle) and the retuned suspension.

The Rallye adds 18-inch BSB lightweight forged alloy wheels. The Rallye adds 18-inch BSB lightweight forged alloy wheels.

Is there anything interesting about its design?   8/10

It looks almost exactly like the regular GR Yaris, with a couple of minuscule changes that the eagle-eyed will spot. 

For one, there's two new vent openings in the front grille to aid brake cooling, and there's a numbered plaque in the cabin so you know which Rallye you've got (though Toyota concedes this is more of a vanity project than any indication of the numbers actually being limited).

The Rallye looks almost exactly like the regular GR Yaris. The Rallye looks almost exactly like the regular GR Yaris.

Most noticeable, though, is the bespoke paint colour - a shimmery pearlescent white called Frosted White, which makes the bright-red brake calipers pop. 

Elsewhere, though, its the same swollen, angry-looking hot hatch we've come to know and love.

Up front, there are two new vent openings in the grille. Up front, there are two new vent openings in the grille.

How practical is the space inside?   7/10

Next question, please. This is a three-door, manual-only performance hatch, so practicality is not really at the top of its to-do list.

In terms of the basics, you get four (two up front and two in the rear) seats, twin ISOFIX attachment points in the back, and a 141-litre luggage space that swells to 737 litres when the 60:40 rear seats are folded flat. 

While the backseat is fairly sparse, with no fold-down centre armrest or cupholders, you do some connectivity options in the vehicle, with a USB-A port and 12-V power outlet. 

The front of the cabin feels spacious. The front of the cabin feels spacious.

The rear seats are fairly tight. My 175cm frame can fit into either easily enough, but you probably wouldn't want to spend too much time back there. 

Conversely, though, the front of the cabin feels spacious enough, and the seats are appropriately figure-hugging for when you're tearing through corners. 

Speaking of which, the steering wheel, gear shifter and pedals are all nicely positioned so that you feel a part of the vehicle, and while the manual gearbox offers rev-matching on the up and downshifts, true heel-and-toe driving is a very real option, too.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   9/10

No change to the powertrain here, but that's no bad thing - I bloody love this engine. 

The turbocharged 1.6-litre, three-cylinder engine develops a whopping 200kW and 370Nm (in a vehicle that weighs just 1280kg, no less), which is fed through a six-speed manual gearbox with up-and-down rev matching, and then funnelled to all four wheel via the GR-FOUR all-wheel drive system.

Under the GR Yaris’ bonnet is a single-turbo, 1.6-litre three-cylinder engine. Under the GR Yaris’ bonnet is a single-turbo, 1.6-litre three-cylinder engine.

How much power goes where is up to you, with Rallye equipped with Normal, Track and Sport drive modes that split the power between the front and rear axles to 60/40, 30/70 and 50/50 respectively. 

Toyota says all of that is enough to see the Rallye clip 100km/h in 5.2 seconds.

How much fuel does it consume?   7/10

Toyota says the GR Yaris Rallye sip a combined 7.6litres/100km, and emit 172 grams/km of C02.

The bad news? The Rallye demands premium fuel to fill its 50-litre tank. 

What's it like to drive?   9/10

Short answer? This Rallye takes everything we love about the GR Yaris and makes it better. 

If that sounds like we're waxing lyrical, it's because we are. While our testing was limited to a handful of laps of a race-like circuit, they were enough to feel the most important additions to the Rallye - those twin limited-slip diffs - doing their thing.

The GR Yaris is quick through corners.  The GR Yaris is quick through corners. 

Designed to direct the torque to the wheel with the most grip, the system does its best work in cornering, where grunt it sent to the tyre with the most load for extra grip when exiting a bend.

This is a truly exciting hot hatch, full of froth and fizz, and one that you feel intimately connected to when behind wheel. Every moment of acceleration, loss of traction, or wiggle in the rear, is felt in the drivers seat, and it's the kind of vehicle you simply get better at the more time you spend in it.

This Rallye takes everything we love about the GR Yaris and makes it better. This Rallye takes everything we love about the GR Yaris and makes it better.

The brakes are ace, too (356mm front, 297mm rear), and will it's not lightning-fast in a straight line, it's plenty quick through corners. 

How much harsher is the stiffer suspension on a normal road? Is it easy to live with as an everyday driver? Is it too track-focused for suburban life?

The GR Yaris is a truly exciting hot hatch. The GR Yaris is a truly exciting hot hatch.

Honestly, we don't know. We are yet to drive it on regular Australian roads. But we will, and soon, and we'll update you as soon as that happens.

But in terms of sheer driver fun? The GR Yaris has it in spades.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

5 years / unlimited km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   8/10

It certainly hasn't been left behind on the safety front, the Rallye, with six airbags, blind-spot monitoring, a head-up display and a reversing camera.

The tech then steps up, with Toyota's Safety Sense system including AEB, intersection assistance, adaptive cruise control, lane trace assist and road-sign assist.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   7/10

The GR Yaris Rallye is covered by Toyota's five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, with the engine and driveline covered for seven years.

Servicing is required every six months or 10,000kms, and will set you back $260 each for the first six visits. 

Verdict

Put simply, this is a car we love made better, and if track driving is in your future, this is the GR Yaris you want

Whether the changes make it harder to live with is yet to be seen, but if it's fun you're after, the Rallye delivers it by the high-octane bucket load.

Pricing guides

$52,000
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)
Lowest Price
$49,500
Highest Price
$54,500

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
GR 1.6L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $49,500 2021 Toyota GR Yaris 2021 GR Pricing and Specs
Rallye 1.6L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $54,500 2021 Toyota GR Yaris 2021 Rallye Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.9
Price and features8
Design8
Practicality7
Engine & trans9
Fuel consumption7
Driving9
Safety8
Ownership7
Andrew Chesterton
Contributing journalist

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Pricing Guide

$54,500

Lowest price, based on new car retail price

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