Chris Harris Goes Mad In The Toyota GR Yaris - story fullscreen Fullscreen

Chris Harris Goes Mad In The Toyota GR Yaris

Chris Harris tells us why the GR Yaris is one of the best cars he has driven in years, as he blasts around the Top Gear test track in it

Toyota wouldn’t be the first brand you think of when talking about exciting cars. However, the Japanese brand has been on something of a roll in recent times and the GR Yaris is one of the best examples. Chris Harris has driven and raced more than a few cars, so he is quite qualified to talk about it while finding out its limits. As you might guess, some epic driving is in store, and here’s what Harris makes of Toyota’s rally-bred hot hatch.

Chris Harris Goes Mad In The Toyota GR Yaris
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Sadly, you won’t be able to get your hands on a Toyota GR Yaris, as it won’t be coming to the US. Nevertheless, we are reminding you of its 1.6-liter turbocharged inline-three unit that pumps out 268 horsepower and 273 pound-feet (370 Nm). The best part is, all that goes to all four wheels, through a six-speed manual, which allows the 2,800-pound (1,270 kg) hot hatch to reach 60 mph (97 km/h) in under 5.0 seconds, on its way to 144 mph (232 km/h).

Toyota GR Yaris specifications
Engine 1.6-liter turbocharged inline-three
Power 268 HP
Torque 273 LB-FT
Transmission six-speed manual
Weight 2,800 pounds
0 to 60 mph 5.0 seconds
Top Speed 144 mph

So far so good, but Harris goes on about the pricing - £33,000 in the UK. In short, that’s a lot of money for “a souped-up OAP-mobile”, especially considering the competition. For £14,000 less, you can have a Ford Fiesta ST, which granted, does not have nearly as much power or all-wheel drive, but is tons of fun.

Chris Harris Goes Mad In The Toyota GR Yaris
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You can even get a Honda Civic Type R for a bit less and that’s a hot hatch that doesn’t really need an introduction. If that isn’t enough, you can get a Mercedes A35 AMG for about the same money as a GR Yaris. It’s faster, more sophisticated, and it’s a Benz.

However, “you cannot compare the GR Yaris to a regular hot hatch, because it isn’t a regular hot hatch” – Harris says. Whereas a hot hatchback is a souped-up version of a regular economy car, the GR Yaris is a road car designed for racing. This, of course, “is very expensive, which is why it almost never happens” – Chris elaborates. “Just occasionally, a carmaker would build a completely new, very fast road-car, as the perfect base for its next rally car.

Chris Harris Goes Mad In The Toyota GR Yaris
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The Toyota GR Yaris, then, is a homologation-special, of which, Toyota says, only 25,000 will be built, provided there’s enough interest. For this very reason, Harris believes that the GR Yaris is worthy to be amongst the greatest homologation rally cars ever made, as he walks us by the legends – Audi Sport Quattro shortened, Lancia Delta HF Integrale, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VI Tommi Makinen edition, and the Ford Escort RS Cosworth, all of which spawned some of the most legendary rally cars to have ever blessed the automotive world.

Why does Chris Harris think the Toyota GR Yaris is worthy to sit with this distinguished company? Because, just like the aforementioned legends, “it’s a genuine rally car for the road”. Its small inline-three currently has the highest specific output in the world and is full with motorsport-derived technology. It follows a proven, go-fast formula – (relatively) lightweight, more power, more driven wheels, and an exceptional chassis. Harris describes the brake pedal feel as “immense”. The brakes are powerful and the car seems to be very “chuckable” into the corners.

Chris Harris Goes Mad In The Toyota GR Yaris
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The rally-bred mini-monster utilizes Gazoo Racing’s advanced all-wheel-drive system, which works exceptionally well with the rest of the chassis. Chris demonstrates how, upon pulling the handbrake, the system immediately stops sending power to the rear axle, allowing you to do some epic skids, just like on a rally stage. This is especially true for sport mode, in which you don’t even need to pull the handbrake in order to execute epic slides.

“It channels my inner Collin McRae”, Chris enthusiastically shouts while testing the limits of the GR Yaris. The veteran automotive journalist notes that the Toyota badge is one of the very few things the GR Yaris shares with the boring spec your grandma would drive. He goes on about how Toyota has truly reinvented the Yaris and because of that, it now belongs with the rest of the rally legends. Harris finishes by saying it’s the best car he has driven, in years. But don’t take my word for it, watch the video and see for yourself.


Dim Angelov
Dim Angelov
Born in 1992, I come from a family of motoring enthusiasts. My passion for cars was awoken at the age of six, when I saw a Lamborghini Diablo SV in a magazine. After high school I earned a master’s degree in marketing and a Master of Arts in Media and Communications. Over the years, I’ve practiced and become skilled in precision driving and to date have test driven more than 250 cars across the globe. Over the years, I’ve picked up basic mechanical knowledge and have even taken part in the restoration of a 1964 Jaguar E-Type and an Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint. Lately, I’ve taken a fancy to automotive photography, and while modern cars are my primary passion, I also have a love for Asian Martial Arts, swimming, war history, craft beer, historical weapons, and car restoration. In time, I plan my own classic car restoration and hope to earn my racing certificate, after which I expect to establish my own racing team.  Read full bio
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