2021 Toyota GR Yaris makes an insane 268 hp -- from a 3-cylinder engine

The GR Yaris is going racing in the World Rally Championship, too.

Sean Szymkowski
It all started with Gran Turismo. From those early PlayStation days, Sean was drawn to anything with four wheels. Prior to joining the Roadshow team, he was a freelance contributor for Motor Authority, The Car Connection and Green Car Reports. As for what's in the garage, Sean owns a 2016 Chevrolet SS, and yes, it has Holden badges.
Sean Szymkowski
2 min read
2021 Toyota GR Yaris
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2021 Toyota GR Yaris

Another cool thing Americans can't have. Everyone collectively sigh with me.


I'll get this, the question that's obviously popped into your mind, out of the way first: It's highly unlikely this is coming to America. The 2021 Toyota GR Yaris (GR is the abbreviation for Gazoo Racing) made its anticipated debut on Friday and my, oh, my, it's quite the proper hot hatchback.

Let's start with the powertrain. There's a brand-spanking-new 1.6-liter turbocharged inline-three engine onboard. From those three cylinders and turbo, this little dude makes a whopping 268 horsepower. That, friends, is pretty nuts. Routing the power to all four wheels is a six-speed manual transmission, and that's the sole option here. 

Why would Toyota go through all of this trouble to build a killer hot hatch? The World Rally Championship. The Japanese automaker will take the potent thing to the WRC alongside Tommi Mäkinen Racing. In fact, the race team had a lot of sway during the design and engineering process. Truly, this is a homologated rally car for the road.

2021 Toyota GR Yaris is rally glory homologated

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Speaking of engineering, let's dive into more of the nitty-gritty details. The GR Yaris is a three-door body style made from carbon-fiber polymer and aluminum to keep weight off. In fact, it weighs a rather dainty 2,822 pounds, which helps it achieve a very healthy power-to-weight ratio. Each of the 268 ponies has to move just over 10 pounds. Toyota said 0 to 62 mph will come in just 5.5 seconds, and keeping the accelerator to the floor will reveal a top speed of 143 mph.

Underneath it all is a MacPherson strut system in the front, and a double-wishbone suspension at the rear. This unique setup comes from combining two Toyota platforms: the automaker's GA-B and GA-C architectures. This Frankenstein move allowed for the unique racy setup and the new all-wheel drive system. Speaking of the AWD system, it can send 100% of the torque to the front or rear wheels. So, yeah, this can be a near rear-wheel-drive hot hatch with three driver-controlled settings to split the balance accordingly.

As I mentioned, there's likely zero chance of this coming to America. The platforms used for the car aren't found in the US, as we make do with a rebadged Yaris model here. It's essentially a Mazda2. In sum, "The GR Yaris is based on the European-spec Yaris and there is no plan to offer that vehicle here in the US," a Toyota representative told Roadshow.

Those abroad will certainly be in for a lot fun, though. And if any of you want to kick it up a notch, Toyota will even sell a Circuit Pack that adds a limited-slip differential on both axles. Paired with Michelin Pilot Sport 4s tires, this thing is going to rip.

Originally published Jan. 10, 8:39 a.m. PT.
Update, 10:34 a.m.: Adds statement from Toyota.

Watch this: 2018 Toyota Yaris keeps it nice and simple