In just a couple of days we’ll get a short spin in the critically-acclaimed GR Yaris. Here’s what we want to know.
Test driving cars can be a little bit tricky – especially when you don’t have much time behind the wheel. We’ll be honest: most showroom test drives don’t really let you experience all of a car’s strong points (or weak points), and at best you get a feel for how it would look driving a vehicle around. To truly test a car, you need time.
Sometimes, these time restrictions can’t be avoided. In our particular case, we will be getting behind the wheel of a Toyota GR Yaris this coming weekend and have the opportunity to toss it around a gymkhana course, as well as potentially some time on Sepang International Circuit. The latter can be a little underwhelming as they tend to be guided or chaperoned, so you don’t really get to see what a car can do on the limit.
All that said, there are still things that we would be looking out for or focusing on. One particular aspect is how the GR Yaris sounds at full chat – these can’t quite be replicated well over the internet, and there are camps which either hate the exhaust noise, or love it. That’s something we’ll have to hear in person. More important than that is the way it behaves.
While the modern car cannot be sold on how it drives alone, the GR Yaris was something designed with dynamics in mind. A rally homologation model of sorts, you would expect it to drive beautifully and feel natural in your hands. So far, all the reviews available are raving about just how great this hot hatch is to drive, and that’s something we want to test for ourselves.
We can break this down into a few different areas. High up on the list is how the all-wheel drive system works – as some of you may know, the GR Yaris available here comes with the higher spec optional equipment that includes a torsen-type limited slip differential at the front and rear. With this setup, the GR Yaris should be able to rocket out of corners even if one or two wheels can’t find grip.
On top of that is the fact that many AWD systems feel noticeably understeer-prone when you start to push them to the limit. The GR Yaris is supposed to overcome this with adjustable variable torque split across the front and rear axles, and hopefully we will be able to see whether this can curb some of the inherent AWD issues – something a gymkhana course can easily put on display if there are any.
Most abstract is the overall suspension setup and characteristics of the GR Yaris. We know it is loosely based on the same platform as the Toyota Camry, C-HR, and Corolla – but the GR Yaris is a fair bit shorter and designed to be more aggressive and agile. We’re looking for fun characteristics like linear lift-off oversteer, stability under hard braking, and ease of weight transfer across all four corners of the car.
If you’re a little lost with this, we basically are looking to see if the GR Yaris is easily approachable and predictable as you approach the limit. Does it push into safety understeer too quickly, or does it break into nausea-inducing snap oversteer? If there is any oversteer to be found, how easy is it to dial it in and deal it out?
It’s been a very long time since we’ve had a new car that truly re-imagines the way a vehicle can be produced for the market, and throws the suggestions of accountants and investors out of the window. This is a car built for enthusiasts, designed by enthusiasts, from a company that is arguably trying to right the sins of its past. It’s definitely worth a closer look.