The facelifted Toyota GR Yaris is even more driver-focused – even with the auto box

The Toyota GR Yaris is getting a facelift for 2024, addressing its main criticisms and bringing an automatic model

  • New automatic option
  • Coming in June 2024
  • Power increased from 257bhp to 276bhp

Toyota has been on somewhat of a roll in recent years, catering to enthusiasts with its line of sporty GR cars. One such model is the Toyota GR Yaris, a rally-inspired four-wheel drive hot hatch that has taken the market by storm. The GR Yaris is now due a facelift, and Toyota is keen to build on the success it’s already achieved as an out-and-out driver’s car.

The facelifted Toyota GR Yaris will also be available as an automatic, for those drivers keen to give their left foot a rest, while still offering all the speed you’d expect from a Gazoo Racing model.

From the outside, the changes are fairly minimal but include a new steel mesh lower grille, wider side intakes, and a new bumper design at the front. At the rear, Toyota has added a new diffuser with an additional opening to further decrease drag and cool the exhaust system more effectively. Toyota has relocated the rear fog lights into the light clusters and moved the rear central brake light from the spoiler to the boot hatch – changes that the brand claims help reduce the risk of damage, and make parts such as the spoiler easier to replace or customise.

Toyota will keep things simple, with the range now comprising just one model which gets all of the upgrades found in the previous Circuit Pack car, including Torsen locking differentials front and rear for extra traction and GR performance-tuned suspension.

What’s new about the 2024 Toyota GR Yaris?

For starters, the new GR Yaris is set to get a power boost, with Toyota tuning the turbocharged three-cylinder – which was already the most powerful of its kind – from 257bhp to a whopping 276bhp with strengthened internals to ensure its reliability.

Toyota has added a new drive mode selector with Sport, Normal and Eco modes to configure the car for spirited driving, everyday use or for better fuel economy. Toyota says that the latest GR Yaris’ steering response and feedback has also been sharpened up.

A key addition to the GR Yaris lineup will be the introduction of a new eight-speed automatic transmission. Toyota says this will allow for drivers to concentrate more closely on steering and braking, and with lightning-quick shifting speeds, the brand says the automatic has achieved faster lap times than the manual version. Toyota’s Gazoo Racing World Rally Team has tested the durability of the auto box in various rally stages and competitions, where it’s proven itself over various surfaces.

Will the manual Toyota GR Yaris still be available?

The good news for fans of driving a stick shift is that the GR Yaris will still come as standard with a manual six-speed gearbox, while the eight-speed auto will be an option. The quickest GR Yaris will be the automatic version, however.

What about the facelifted Toyota GR Yaris’ interior?

As well as performance upgrades, the new GR Yaris will get some upgrades in the cabin, too. Addressing criticisms of the old car’s high driving position, the facelifted car will get a much lower seat with repositioned controls for improved driver usability on the move, including the switches for the intercooler spray, stability control and hazard lights. The instrument panel has been dropped by 50mm to improve the driver’s view of the road ahead.

The new GR Yaris will also get a new 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster with a Normal and Sport layout, the latter of which displays more performance-oriented data. Automatic versions of the car will come as standard in a higher spec, with niceties such as forged alloy wheels, rear and side monitors and a premium JBL sound system.

When will the new Toyota GR Yaris go on sale?

Toyota is expected to open orders for the facelifted GR Yaris in June 2024. Prices are yet to be announced, but the car is expected to cost just under £38,000 – quite an increase over the outgoing car’s original £30k pricetag. That’s because the entry-level model has been ditched, with the range set to consist of just one version equipped with the higher-spec Circuit Pack, though this model originally cost just under £33,500.

Toyota GR Yaris prototype drive review – John Barker

We had a chance to drive some late-stage prototypes of the new and improved Toyota GR Yaris at the Jarama race track in Spain. One of the first big changes we noticed right off the bat was the new driving position. It’s a much more substantial change than you’d expect, and successfully addresses the issue with the outgoing car’s lofty configuration. You feel much better poised to take on the open road with the driver’s seat lowered by 25mm, a repositioned steering column and a repositioned rear-view mirror – it feels like a completely different car.

We tested both the standard six-speed manual transmission and the new eight-speed automatic. Improvements have been made to the standard manual, as we found it even slicker and more satisfying to use than before. The automatic version impressed us, too – it felt very quick and always found the right gear, though we’ll reserve full judgement until we get a chance to drive it on UK roads.

The new GR Yaris feels much tauter in the corners thanks to its lower-slung suspension setup. Body roll is much improved as a result, too, while it still dives enthusiastically into and out of corners. Putting the all-wheel drive system into ‘Track’ mode makes it more adaptive and the GR Yaris felt noticeably grippier in this setting.

Verdict

The new Toyota GR Yaris is shaping up to be not just more hardcore than before, but much more driver-focused, as a result of the brand addressing feedback about its high driving position and relocating some of the most important controls. While the addition of an automatic version might seem at odds with its sporty nature, its rapid shifting will make it even quicker than the manual model, and it could make the GR Yaris more accessible and easier to live with than ever.

Charlie writes and edits news, review and advice articles for Carbuyer, as well as publishing content to its social media platforms. He has also been a regular contributor to its sister titles Auto Express, DrivingElectric and evo. As well as being consumed by everything automotive, Charlie is a speaker of five languages and once lived in Chile, Siberia and the Czech Republic, returning to the UK to write about his life-long passion: cars.

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