Homologation Special: Toyota Teases Yaris GR-4

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Toyota has teased the upcoming GR Yaris Prototype, scheduled to debut at the Rally Australia on November 17th. Based on the TNGA Yaris, we’re unlikely to see it stateside. However, Toyota expanding its Gazoo Racing lineup is still good news. The bigger it gets, the more likely we are to finally get one here.

Dubbed the GR-4, the vehicle appears to be a homologation car, allowing Toyota to run in the 2020 World Rally Championship. That WRC connection also means all-wheel drive and an amped-up powertrain are practically guaranteed.

With the debut relatively near, Toyota isn’t interested in giving away many details. But we can clearly see from the teaser image that the GR-4 has some seriously flared wheel arches — at least in the rear — and a lowered roofline. It’s going to be a very different animal from any Yaris previously encountered.

Evo speculated as to why:

Why go to all the effort and expense of re-engineering things such as the roofline and axles for a homologation special? Gazoo Racing’s 2020 Yaris WRC car differs so much from the standard Yaris that this homologation model will need to be produced. In contrast to old Group N WRC rules, which required a limited number of closely related road-going examples to be produced in order to comply (think early Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution or Subaru WRX), today’s rules allow a wider chasm between the road and rally versions. Venture outside these limitations, as Toyota Gazoo Racing looks to have done, and a far bigger production run is required to homologate the race car.

That’s also the fault of the standard Yaris being … quite standard (if you get my meaning). So Toyota is going to have to build 25,000 of these street-legal GR-4s in 2020 if it wants to compete.

While North America continues to get the Mazda2-based Yaris, Toyota has said it is planning to increase the number of performance-focused variants of the TNGA version, with an emphasis on rally racing — foreshadowing the GR-4’s arrival.

“With the [Yaris] GRMN we tried to establish more of a link to the rallying. It was an interesting exercise. We learned a lot. And it showed clear demand from a different group of influencers — not traditional Yaris customer,” Toyota Europe executive vice-president Matt Harrison explained. “The strategy is that there will be GR products that are dynamically different – tuned, with more power. And GR Sport versions that link to it but which are easier and cheaper to run as everyday cars.”

GR Yaris Prototype. Live at Wedding Bells, Rally Australia. 17.11.19. Yaris pic.twitter.com/aEs3cMxsVQ

— Toyota Europe (@toyota_europe) November 6, 2019

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Art Vandelay Art Vandelay on Nov 08, 2019

    Yes! If we are talking the real deal here...like the old 4WD Celicas or something akin to an old Escort Cosworth, I'm game. Stickers and blacked out rims on a normal Yaris...pass.

  • Oberkanone Oberkanone on Nov 10, 2019

    Yaris GRMN is a hoot to drive. Or so I hear. We are denied all the good stuff from Toyota. GR-4 is just more forbidden fruit.

  • Bd2 Probably too late to do anything about it for the launch, but Kia should plan on doing an extensive refresh of the front fascia (the earlier, the better) as the design looks really ungainly.
  • Namesakeone Since I include SUVs and minivans as trucks, I really cannot think of a brand that is truly truckless. MG maybe?
  • Sobhuza Trooper Subaru, they were almost there with the BRAT. --On a lighter note, where the hell is my Cooper Works Mini truck?
  • Mike Evs do suck, though. I mean, they really do.
  • Steve Biro I don’t care what brand but it needs to be a compact two-door with an ICE, traditional parallel hybrid or both. A manual transmission option would be nice but I don’t expect it - especially with a hybrid. Don’t show me an EV.