The Toyota GR Yaris is the road-going interpretation of a rally car. Well, Toyota Australia has turned it back into a rally car again. Meet the Toyota GR Yaris AP4, or the Toyota Gazoo Racing Yaris Asia-Pacific 4WD if you want the longhand.
It won’t compete at the World Rally Championship’s highest level, rather the Rally 2 tier that sits below. So it’s a bit more attainable both in price and driveability.
It’s the fruit of a project between Toyota and Neal Bates Motorsport, headed up by the four-time Australian rally champion with his two sons – Harry and Lewis – on driving duties.
And Neal is very complimentary of how ready for competition the wee Yaris already feels. It seems constructing a rally car from a homologation special is even more straightforward than you’d hope.
“Together with the compact turbo engine and all-wheel drive system, the GR Yaris is a great base car compared to what we have worked with previously to create rally cars,” says Neal, before complimenting how helpful its lightweight aluminium doors and carbon roof are.
There’s been a host of tweaks, too. A fibreglass bonnet and hatch, new 3D-printed mirrors and Perspex windows help cut weight and hike up safety. A bespoke exhaust system and new 1.5-bar turbo help the stock 3cyl engine meet AP4 regulations, with the road car’s 260hp and 360Nm set to rise, but to as yet unconfirmed levels.
It’s all hooked up to a Sadev six-speed sequential gearbox, naturally driving all four wheels, though the torque split is now locked in at 50:50 front and rear. A suspension overhaul allows much more travel for all those crests and compressions.
“People often think that a rally car is just a modified road car, but it really is a Supercar for the gravel, the build process is identical to that of a Supercar,” says Neal.
Like what his team’s done with the hot hatch of the moment?
STORY Stephen Dobie