Toyota GR Yaris Review & Prices

The Toyota GR Yaris is basically a rally car for the road, because it’s fast and extremely good fun to drive. There are more practical hot hatches, though

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RRP £44,250 - £60,000
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Reviewed by Darren Cassey after extensive testing of the vehicle.

What's good

  • Cracking three-cylinder engine
  • Stunningly good to drive fast
  • There’s now an automatic option

What's not so good

  • Smaller boot than standard Yaris
  • Tyre noise on the motorway
  • Rear headroom is tight
At a glance
GR Yaris
Body type
Available fuel types
Acceleration (0-60 mph)
0.0 - 5.5 s
Number of seats
Boot, seats up
141 litres - 2 Suitcases
Exterior dimensions (L x W x H)
3,995mm x 1,805mm x 1,455mm
CO₂ emissions
This refers to how much carbon dioxide a vehicle emits per kilometre – the lower the number, the less polluting the car.
186 - 215 g/km
Fuel economy
This measures how much fuel a car uses, according to official tests. It's measured in miles per gallon (MPG) and a higher number means the car is more fuel efficient.
34.3 mpg
Insurance group
A car's insurance group indicates how cheap or expensive it will be to insure – higher numbers will mean more expensive insurance.
43P, 36A, 44P, 35A
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Find out more about the Toyota GR Yaris

Is the Toyota GR Yaris a good car?

The Toyota GR Yaris is – loosely – based on the dinky Yaris hatchback However, it’s been pulled apart and put back together again by Toyota’s motorsport division, packing performance and upgrades developed from the team’s World Rally Championship programme.

It’s a bit like that part of a movie when the student who has spent the rest of the film in the library doing their homework takes off their shirt to reveal a chiselled physique, ready to kick butt in the final act.

The Toyota GR Yaris has long been a Carwow favourite, being crowned our favourite hot hatch of 2021, but while that model is still currently on sale, 2024 brings a heavily updated GR Yaris. That means minor tweaks to the outside, a massive overhaul of the inside and, naturally, more power.

Not much is new on the exterior, but keen eyes will notice a revised front bumper with a new metal grille, and the old fake rear diffuser has been replaced with a mesh rally-inspired look. There’s also a new spoiler above the rear window and full-width rear lights.

Watch: 2020 Toyota GR Yaris review

Inside it’s a totally different story. There’s a blocky dashboard that wraps around the driver and looks a bit like a classic car from the ‘80s. Or it would, if it wasn’t for the fact that there’s an infotainment screen in the centre and a digital dials display ahead of you.

This new design is partly inspired by Toyota’s rally cars, making it easier to press buttons when you’re strapped in tight for track driving. And one of the few complaints about the old car – that the seat was too high – has been addressed, so you sit much lower and, as a result, feel much more connected to the car as you feel like you’re sat ‘in’ it rather than ‘on’ it.

As well as this, the infotainment screen is lower than before, and the rear-view mirror is higher, which improves visibility out the front of the car. This is useful because it makes it easier to see the road (or track) ahead, giving you more confidence to pick up the pace.

And when you do, you’ll enjoy the fact that the updated GR Yaris has more power than its predecessor. You still get all-wheel drive, but the 1.6-litre petrol engine now makes 280hp, up from 261hp in the old car, while torque has been upped from 360Nm to 390Nm. Honestly? You don’t really feel this extra performance, but it’s certainly nice to have.

Toyota has taken what few complaints there were with the GR Yaris and banished them – the best just got better!

It’s also nice to have an automatic option now, too. The manual transmission is great – not as good as in, say, the Honda Civic Type R, because it can be tricky to shift quickly on track. But for the road? It’s excellent. The addition of an automatic gearbox is good news for those looking to shave time off their lap record, though. Shifts are snappy and it frees you up to concentrate on just going quickly.

So far, so good. But one of the key selling points of a hot hatch is how well it copes with everyday life duties as well as B-road blasts. Here, the GR Yaris suffers somewhat for being based on a small city car, because the boot is very small – even smaller than the regular Yaris – and the rear seats are quite tight. If you plan to use it for shopping and school runs it’s more compromised than even other small hot hatches, such as the Hyundai i20 N.

That’s unlikely to be enough to put you off, so stay tuned for the new model, which will go on sale soon. In the meantime, see how much you could save on the excellent outgoing model with Carwow’s Toyota GR Yaris lease deals. You can also browse the latest used GR Yaris cars as well as other used Toyotas. And when it’s time to sell your car, Carwow can help with that, too.

How much is the Toyota GR Yaris?

The Toyota GR Yaris has a RRP range of £44,250 to £60,000. Prices start at £44,250 if paying cash. Monthly payments start at £632. The price of a used Toyota GR Yaris on Carwow starts at £25,197.

Our most popular versions of the Toyota GR Yaris are:

Model version Carwow price from
1.6T 3dr AWD £44,250 Compare offers

If you’re looking for a great price on the outgoing model, you can browse the latest leasing deals available through Carwow. But if you’re holding out for the new one, you can expect a small increase in price to reflect the many upgrades

Prices and specifications have not yet been revealed, but the starting price is likely to be close to £35,000, and it remains to be seen if the Circuit Pack will be an optional upgrade again, or if the tech is included as standard. This cost £3,500 and got you tweaked suspension and a clever differential that improves grip when you accelerate.

That’s a hell of a lot for a Yaris, but actually, not bad value by hot hatch standards. It is, admittedly, about £10,000 more than another excellent small hot hatch, the Hyundai i20 N, but the Toyota is a much more serious bit of kit mechanically. You’ll save about £5,000 compared with the bigger but less exciting Volkswagen Golf GTI, about £10,000 on the more powerful Golf R, and £15,000 on the utterly fantastic but ludicrously expensive Honda Civic Type R.

Performance and drive comfort

An absolute hoot to drive, but you won’t notice the extra power you get in the new model

In town

It might be based on a town-friendly Yaris, but the GR Yaris loses out in urban situations, simply because it’s been designed for the open road, not the local Tesco car park. The turning circle is bigger than that of the regular Yaris — 10.6 metres compared to 9.6 metres — and although you won’t notice all the time, it makes ultra-tight manoeuvres that little bit trickier.

The ultra-firm suspension obviously doesn’t do its best work in an urban setting. It’s actually not terribly uncomfortable, as the damping control of the shock absorbers is so good, but sharp bumps — like a small speed hump — will have you wincing. Mind you, the brilliant high-backed bucket seats in the front do take some of the sting out of the bumps around town.

Visibility is fine up front, but the GR Yaris’ roof slopes down quite a lot at the back — for aerodynamic reasons — and that, combined with a small rear side window, means that rear visibility and your over-the-shoulder view aren’t great.

The updated model’s revised layout up front means forward visibility is much-improved, largely thanks to dropping the infotainment screen down and moving the rear-view mirror up, while the addition of an automatic version is appealing for making stop-start traffic much less tiring for your left leg.

On the motorway

You can use the GR Yaris as a daily driver – honest – and it actually has some useful features for commuters, such as radar-guided cruise control. There’s also lane-keeping assist, which helps to keep you centred between the white lines.

There is quite a bit of wind whistle when you’re up to motorway cruising speeds in the GR Yaris and that’s accompanied by rather too much in the way of tyre roar. The firm suspension means that you’ll get some fidget and wiggle on anything but a perfectly smooth surface, but it’s not all that bad, in the context of high-performance cars.

On a twisty road

This is what the GR Yaris was designed for. It is a truly awesome car when you get it onto a good road. The controls, especially the steering, give the kind of feedback from the road that’s increasingly rare these days, while the six-speed manual gearshift is so good — precise and with an oiled, mechanical feel — that you’ll be swapping between gears just for fun. The pedals aren’t placed well for ‘heel and toe’ downshifts (which involves using your right foot to brake for a corner while also blipping the throttle pedal as you change down gears for smoother shifts), but there’s nifty software that will do it for you. It’s also not perfect for hardcore track day shifts, so you have to show some restraint, but that’s getting picky now.

Naughtily, the manual handbrake has an automated system whereby when you pull it up, it automatically disconnects the four-wheel drive system, making it easier to do skiddy handbrake turns. Maybe just keep that between ourselves though…

The GR Yaris gets a totally different rear suspension to the standard Yaris. It’s a bespoke setup that actually means that the whole rear structure of the car is pretty much unique, and nothing like a standard Yaris. The suspension is firm, of course, but out of town at higher speeds it smooths out, so you’re not jostled and jolted about down a country road. Updated cars from 2024 get minor improvements here, too, based on professional driver feedback.

When you switch the GR Yaris into Sport mode, it doesn’t just make the throttle sharper and the steering heavier, it also puts the four-wheel drive system into a different mode, sending 70% of the power to the rear wheels, rather than the usual 60:40 front-rear distribution, which makes the GR Yaris feel even more responsive in corners. You’d think you wouldn’t notice the difference, but actually you really do — the car feels like it’s being pushed rather than pulled.

There’s also a Track mode, which as well as putting the four-wheel drive into a perfectly symmetrical 50:50 front-rear split, sets the GR Yaris into fully-epic form, allowing you to hook up to the apex of a corner like a racing driver, and then feel the four-wheel drive system just hauling you up and out and down the next straight. Probably best kept for track days though, eh?

Either way, the brakes are excellent — 356mm front discs with four-piston calipers, and those discs are grooved and ventilated too. Again, there’s lots of feel and plenty of ability to haul you down from high speeds, and it all adds up to a car for which you’ll get up early on a weekend just so you can go out and enjoy it on a quiet road. It’ll still be a quiet road though as the exhaust note is nothing special, and Toyota has tried to compensate for that by piping fake engine noises into the cabin, which is only partially successful at best.

The little 1.6-litre three-cylinder engine needs revs to work properly — it’s a bit sluggish to respond at lower revs — but once you get it running above 3,200rpm it just races to the redline. It probably helps that thanks to an aluminium bonnet, doors and boot as well as a special rear bumper made out of thinner, more flexible plastic, the GR Yaris weighs in at just 1,280kg (1,300kg in the automatic) — not half bad for a four-wheel drive high-performance machine. For reference, the regular Yaris is around 1,100kg, depending on the version.

Space and practicality

Up front, the GR Yaris is practical enough for day-to-day use, but it’s a different story in the back as the rear seats are almost useless and the boot is tiny

Space in the front of the GR Yaris is just fine. The big high-backed bucket seats don’t rob too much space — and you don’t sit quite so high as you used to. The new dashboard design brings a more useful tray ahead of the passenger, which is now big enough to place a phone, and comes with a handy USB-C slot for charging.

There are also useful, if slightly narrow and cheap-feeling, door bins and a reasonably-sized glovebox. The driving position is excellent — aside from the fantastic high-backed seats there’s a reach and rake adjustable steering wheel too. One annoying note is that the handle to release the door is kind of buried in an awkward, circular plastic bit of trim on the door, which makes it hard to get at.

Space in the back seats

The GR Yaris was doing so well up until this point. Remember that we said Toyota had made the rear part of the GR Yaris’s roof lower than standard for aerodynamic purposes? Yeah, well that’s ruined the rear headroom. Most adults are going to find that their head is brushing the roof lining, and there are only two seats in the back — the middle seat has been replaced by a small, shallow storage area and there’s no centre rear seatbelt. The back is made worse by the fact that the rear side windows are tiny, and the big front seats rob most of your forward vision.

It’s just not a nice place to be. Legroom is pretty tight too, and the three-door layout makes getting in and out tricky, not helped by the fact that only the passenger seat tumbles forward to allow you in and out. Only the backrest of the driver’s seat moves and neither seat will return to the same position as you started in. It’s just not a practical car — if you need a fast hatch that comfortably fits people in the back, look at a Volkswagen Golf GTI or a Skoda Octavia vRS.

Boot space

The regular Yaris has a fairly average boot when compared with similar-sized cars, but at 286 litres it is at least tolerably practical. Not so the GR Yaris. Toyota has simply not compromised when it came to the design of the rear suspension or the position of the rear differential for the four-wheel drive system, and the penalty for that focus on performance is a tiny boot.

You get just 174 litres — a Ford Fiesta ST might have less power and only front-wheel drive, but you get a 292-litre boot so it’s a far more useful day-to-day proposition. And the Hyundai i20 N gets 352 litres – cavernous by comparison. It’s not much more money for the Golf GTI, which gets 381 litres.

That sloping rear roofline doesn’t help when you fold down the back seats, as although they do fold properly flat, there’s a small boot aperture and another big lump where the rear roof meets the rear pillars so loading up bulky items is just a no-no.

Interior style, infotainment and accessories

The overhauled interior is way more functional than before, but Toyota’s infotainment system is far from the best there is

Changes to the outside of the updated model are minimal, but Toyota has jumped all in to overhauling the interior. There’s a completely new dashboard design that’s nothing like the one in the regular car. You get a boxy shape that comes up from the centre of the car then passes along in front of you.

It’s somewhere between a retro ‘80s look and what you get in a modern rally car, with the latter being no surprise because the new cabin layout comes from feedback from Toyota’s professional rally drivers, meaning everything is angled towards the driver and falls easily to hand.

Behind the steering wheel is a new 12.3-inch digital instrument display that works really well. The information and layout change depending on whether you’re in Normal or Sport mode, with the latter prioritising the rev counter so it’s easier to know when to change gear.

Beside that is the infotainment screen, which sits lower than before to improve visibility out of the window. It’s fairly quick and responsive, but nothing special – though it is now closer to you so easier to operate on the move.

The outgoing model feels a bit less special. The materials aren’t quite as nice, the infotainment display is rather plonked haphazardly atop the dashboard, and there are old-school analogue dials.

MPG, emissions and tax

There’s just the one engine option, but that’s no problem because it’s a cracker. You get a 1.6-litre, three-cylinder, turbocharged petrol engine that makes 280hp and 390Nm. That’s about 20hp and 30Nm more than before.

In truth, you can’t really feel the difference when you put your foot down, but during our testing we found that the new car was exactly one whole second quicker from 0-60mph, completing the sprint in five seconds flat. The automatic version posted an almost identical time, but was quicker over a longer distance because the gear changes were much faster.

Because of this, the automatic is actually the better option if you plan to use the Toyota GR Yaris as a track car, because it will help you post the fastest lap times. You can also focus on your driving more without having to worry about manually changing gears.

However, the manual is the more involving driving experience and is therefore more fun for driving on the road, where saving a few tenths through a corner is irrelevant. Either way, you’re sure to have a big smile on your face when pressing on down your favourite B-road.

Toyota hasn’t released fuel economy or emissions figures for the new model yet. However, it’s unlikely they will be drastically different from the old car, which registered 34.3mpg with CO2 emissions of 186g/km in official tests.

Assuming these figures remain roughly the same, you’re looking at fairly high car tax and an unenticing benefit-in-kind rate for company car drivers.

Safety and security

The standard Yaris gets a full five-star crash test rating from Euro NCAP, including an 86% rating for adult occupant protection, which is good for a small car. The GR Yaris hasn’t been tested separately, so we don’t know if its unique construction and modifications have made any major differences in crash safety compared to the standard Yaris, but it’s reasonable to assume that it’s in the same ballpark.

The specification for the new model has not yet been confirmed, but the outgoing car came with plenty of safety equipment as standard, including pre-collision emergency braking, lane-keeping steering, radar guided cruise control, road sign recognition, auto-high beam lights, ISOFIX for the two rear seats (although good luck getting a bulky child seat back there…), vehicle stability control (which can be entirely switched off if you want), and a tyre pressure warning system.

Reliability and problems

Toyota in general makes some of the most well-built and reliable cars in the world, and the GR Yaris – broadly – should be no exception. However, it is a specialist model with lots of bespoke parts, so you’ll need to be aware that those can be reliability weak points, especially if the car is being driven hard on track days.

There have been reports that the GR Yaris’ four-wheel drive system can overheat under heavy load (such as a long track day) and when that happens it will disconnect drive to the rear wheels, leaving you with a front-drive 261hp Yaris… If it does happen, the system should reset once it cools down, but obviously it’s a concerning point for wear and tear. Toyota, incidentally, recommends that you change the GR Yaris’ engine and transmission oil twice as often if you’re regularly doing track driving. For what it’s worth, Toyota has upgraded a bunch of mechanical items that were prone to damage or wear for the newer model, so the hope is it would be more reliable.

The GR Yaris has also been the subject of a specific recall for its front-facing collision warning and automatic braking system because the radar unit may not have been properly calibrated before it left the factory. This affects cars built between May 2020 and August 2021.

Every new Toyota comes with a standard three-year warranty, and if you keep it serviced with a Toyota main dealer, that warranty automatically extends each year for an extra 12 months and 10,000 miles, until you hit the ten-year mark, or exceed 100,000 miles. However, there is an exclusion clause in the warranty for “Vehicles which are used for races or other associated track driving” so you have been warned…

Buy or lease the Toyota GR Yaris at a price you’ll love
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RRP £44,250 - £60,000
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