Toyota GR Yaris set to gain an automatic gearbox option

An automatic gearbox-equipped GR Yaris has competed in a Japanese rally challenge, and the transmission could be made available on the road car

Automatic Toyota GR Yaris
  • Eight-speed automatic could come to UK
  • GR Yaris has a motorsport-derived three-cylinder engine
  • GR Corolla in development

The Toyota GR Yaris hot hatchback could soon be offered with an automatic gearbox. Toyota has entered a prototype GR Yaris with an eight-speed automatic in its Gazoo Racing Racing Challenge, with the firm’s Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors, Shigeru Hayakawa, behind the wheel.

As the Japanese racing series is Toyota organised, it’s likely that the prototype is acting as a test car for a possible road-going version. Externally it looks largely the same as the manual car, apart from a modified front air intake that could feed the transmission’s oil-cooler. Inside, the changes amount to a Toyota automatic gearlever and paddle shifters behind the steering wheel.

Top 10 best hot hatchbacks 2022

It’s currently not known whether the GR Yaris automatic is destined for the UK market, but our right-hand-drive layout and the popularity of automatic hot hatches in this country look to be in its favour.

A Toyota GR Corolla is also in the works - Toyota dropped several interesting teasers recently - and this development car may shape the driving experience of the bigger Corolla. It’s not yet known whether the GR Corolla will be available with an automatic transmission, a manual gearbox, or both.

The GR Yaris was designed to be a production version of the company’s World Rally Championship (WRC) car, although it uses none of the same mechanical components and was effectively not required after the brand switched to the sport’s new plug-in hybrid regulations. It isn’t a like-for-like replacement for the Toyota Yaris GRMN special-edition, and is much faster than the Ford Fiesta ST and Volkswagen Polo GTI.

We expect many buyers to go for the Circuit Pack, which will add a range of upgrades to make the Yaris better on a racetrack, including a limited-slip differential, more advanced suspension and lightweight alloy wheels.

The GR Yaris is unique in the hot supermini class for its four-wheel-drive system, as all current rivals are front-wheel drive. A bespoke 1.6-litre three-cylinder petrol engine powers the GR Yaris, and its 257bhp makes it among the highest-powered production superminis ever. This power figure puts the GR Yaris a massive 60bhp clear of the Fiesta ST and Polo GTI, with both producing 197bhp. Zero-to-62mph takes under 5.5 seconds, and you can hit a limited top speed of 143mph.

Surprisingly few body panels are carried over to the GR Yaris, which has been redesigned as a three-door model to make it more rigid allowing Toyota to fit outlandish aerodynamic enhancements.

The body is made from a concoction of exotic materials; aluminium is used for the bonnet, doors and tailgate, while the roof is made from a carbon-fibre polymer. The roofline, meanwhile, is completely different to the standard car, sitting at 95mm lower to improve aerodynamics.

Under the bonnet, you’ll find that the engine has been mounted further back than in the regular Yaris, to improve weight distribution across the car’s axles. While the normal car has torsion-beam rear suspension (like many cars), the GR Yaris has a more expensive double-wishbone rear setup.

Read our guides to the fastest hot hatchbacks and best drivers’ cars on sale now.

Recommended

Ford Focus ST Estate review
Ford Focus ST Estate
Ford Focus ST estate
25 May 2022

Ford Focus ST Estate review

BMW M135i hatchback review
BMW M135i driving
BMW M135i hatchback
6 May 2022

BMW M135i hatchback review

Volkswagen ID.3 GTX set to join the range in 2023
Volkswagen ID.3 GTX
Volkswagen ID.3 hatchback
5 May 2022

Volkswagen ID.3 GTX set to join the range in 2023

Abarth 695 Tributo 131 Rally special edition storms in
695 1
News
5 May 2022

Abarth 695 Tributo 131 Rally special edition storms in

Most Popular

Speed awareness course: how much does it cost, how long does it take and how do you do one online?
Police car - open boot
Tips and advice
19 May 2022

Speed awareness course: how much does it cost, how long does it take and how do you do one online?

New car delivery times: how long will you have to wait?
Mazda3s at Bristol port
Car buying
17 May 2022

New car delivery times: how long will you have to wait?

Best new car deals 2022: this week’s top car offers
Fiat 500 deals
Deals
20 May 2022

Best new car deals 2022: this week’s top car offers

Tips & advice

View All
Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide
Car dashboard symbols and meanings
Tips and advice
23 Mar 2022

Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide
Electric car charging station
Tips and advice
5 Nov 2021

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?
PCP vs HP
Car buying
17 May 2022

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?

Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Tips and advice
23 Jul 2021

Average speed cameras: how do they work?

Best cars

View All
Top 10 best car interiors 2022
Peugeot 208 hatchback
Best cars
25 Jun 2021

Top 10 best car interiors 2022

Top 10 best electric cars 2022
Ioniq 5
Best cars
25 Apr 2022

Top 10 best electric cars 2022

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2022
Nissan Leaf front
Best cars
3 May 2022

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2022

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks 2022
Audi RS 3 driving - front view
Hot hatches
3 Feb 2022

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks 2022