Toyota Reveals the Yaris WRC; Hot Hatch Lovers Dream of What Could Be

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
toyota reveals the yaris wrc hot hatch lovers dream of what could be

As it prepares to return to the World Rally Championship after a 17-year absence, Toyota and its Gazoo racing division just revealed a piece of brain candy for hot hatch lovers.

Making sky-high horsepower from its diminutive four-cylinder, the Toyota Yaris WRC hits the pavement — and dirt and snow — in Monte Carlo next month, but the vehicle itself could spell a less buttoned-down future for the brand.

Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC has tapped a team of Japanese, German and Finnish drivers to pilot the unit’s new rally monster. Microsoft is on board as a technology partner. Developed in accordance with Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) guidelines, the four-wheel-drive Yaris WRC can’t reveal its acceleration figures, but its power output isn’t a secret.

The WRC’s turbocharged, direct-injected 1.6-liter four makes over 375 horsepower and 314 lb-ft of torque, coupled to a six-speed hydraulic shift transmission. That tops the Ford Focus RS by at least 25 hp.

“The new [FIA] regulations allow for much greater freedom in terms of development,” said Tommi Mäkinen, Team Principal of Toyota Gazoo Racing, in a statement. “Although we have yet to explore all the possibilities, we can say that the car is reliable and quick. I really can’t wait to see the results in racing conditions.”

Having a high-performing race car is great fodder for an automaker’s PR and engineering teams, but what does it do for your average car buyer? For Toyota customers, the answer is: whatever the automaker feels brave enough to do.

Long associated with staid but reliable transportation, Toyota could use a hot hatch. Okay, perhaps 375 hp driving all four wheels is too much to ask out of a production subcompact, especially one from Toyota. Still, the automaker’s return to the rally circuit could bear showroom fruit.

Toyota Gazoo Racing chief Koei Saga has said he’d like to use Gazoo as a performance brand for Toyota vehicles, claiming “I am very much working on that so we can have a brand like the [BMW] M brand.” No one would argue that the Yaris or Corolla iM couldn’t be improved by herding a few extra ponies under the hood.

With the passenger car market shrinking, giving buyers something to get excited about isn’t a bad thing. Toyota should let its hair down.

[Image: Toyota Gazoo Racing]

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  • Dukeisduke Dukeisduke on Dec 13, 2016

    It's good to see Toyota return to WRC - Carlos Sainz (El Matador!) won the 1990 and 1992 titles driving for Toyota.

  • Yamahog Yamahog on Dec 13, 2016

    What I love about the idea of a WRC boy racer car is that you get performance without any reduction in durability. I have a friend with a Fiesta St - he drives on crappy roads and drives aggressively and has taken the car on some rally races, his struts were blown out after 35k miles. He threw on the Bilstein struts with custom springs for taller ride height and his car is supremely well suspended - he can take lyft fares, go off road, and get around snowy / muddy fields very, very well with good tires. As nice as 'race cars for the street' are, they can fall short in daily life. Low ride heights suck when you're driving in a suburban mall parking lots and parking ramps downtown with speed bumps and ramps. Really tight suspension that crashes over potholes is unfavorable. Brakes that only work after they warm up can be unforgiving, and less-than-tractable motors are less than desirable when you're trying to keep up a zippy pace with limited traction. There are few things I'd open my checkbook for, an a fast, factory rally Toyota is one of them.

    • Fred Fred on Dec 14, 2016

      A modern Fiesta even modified is a Cadillac compared to the Elva Courier I had. Lowered, stiffly sprung on top of the normal uncomfortable features of a bare bones British roadster. Still it was fun car and glad I had the chance.

  • El scotto Y'all are overthinking this. Find some young hard-charging DA seeking the TV limelight to lock this kid up. Heck, have John Boehner come up from Cincy to help the young DA get his political career going. Better yet, have the young DA spin this as hard as he or she can; I'm the candidate for Law and Order, I defied our go-easy office and leadership to get this identified criminal locked up. Oh this could be spun more than a hyper active kid's top.Now I'd do some consulting work for Little Kings Original Cream Ale and Skyline Chili.
  • El scotto Pondering if he has a clean brandy snifter. Well but, ah, I mean the original Grand Wagoneer was fully loaded and had a V-8. The original Grand Wagoneer had an almost cult-like following with a certain type of woman. Attractive, educated high earning women; or those that put on the appearances of being that way.Our esteemed HerR DOKtor Perfessor again shows how ignorant he is of the American market. What he deems "bread-vans on stilts" are highly coveted by significant others that are also highly coveted. The new Grand Cherokee with the new well engineered V-6 will sell as well as the ones from the 80s some of us get wistful over. The only real question will be: LL Bean or Orvis edition?
  • El scotto Well, I've had cats that are smarted than a great many members of congress. I rather doubt that any of the congresspeople Matt named are engineers, finance people or project managers. Ya know, professionals you call in to get a job done.Today is Wednesday, this will be out of the 36 hour news cycle by Friday. Oh it might get mentioned again on OCT 6. Unless there are cute animals to put on TV that day.
  • El scotto Oh My Good Lord Yes! Gents, this is a Caddy that carries on the soul of Caddy. Loud, brash, and apologetically American. Also large and in charge and one of GM's best evah engines. What used to be a flash roll is now bottle service.Can't deal with that reality? There are plenty of excellent SUVs/CUVs on the market. I'm a former Escape owner. The Escape was a sensible lil CUV, this Caddy is just way over the top.Canyon carver? Not a chance, this is based on a Silverado frame. Easy to park? Toss the valet the keys. Will some of the other high-end SUVs have better "soft touch" materials that make car journalist get tingly all over? Of course.This Caddy is designed to eat up huge and I mean huge amounts of American interstate miles. Four people and their luggage? Easily.
  • Miguel I have a Mitsubishi Diamante VRX 2003,and I think this is one of the luxury and sport car.