New car review

Toyota Yaris GR Sport test drive

Toyota has introduced GR Sport to the Yaris in an effort to capture some of the GRMN hot hatch magic, but it leaves a lot to be desired.

What’s the Toyota Yaris GR Sport like inside?

While inside the GR Sport is not a far cry from the rest of the hybrid’s range, there are a number of introductions to mark it out against the rest of the line-up.

Front occupants will find themselves hugged tight by Ultrasuede-upholstered semi-bucket seats which provide good levels of comfort, while the driver is sat in front of a steering wheel borrowed from the GT86 — much like the GRMN, albeit with the exclusion of the red 12 o’clock stripe as seen in the full-whack car. Switch the car on, and the TFT display in the gauge cluster will also throw up a little GR animation.

Those additions aside, it’s all very much standard Yaris Hybrid. That means seating for five — though don’t expect adults to be comfortable in the back — along with a generous 286 litre boot, and plenty of hard plastics used throughout the cabin.

What’s under the bonnet?

As mentioned, this is effectively a racy-looking Yaris Hybrid — meaning it’s powered by a four-cylinder naturally-aspirated petrol engine paired up to an electric motor to produce 98bhp and 125Nm of torque.

Toyota Yaris GR Sport engine | The Car Expert

With that sent to the front wheels via a CVT, 0-60mph comes in 11.6 seconds while a top speed of 103mph is possible. When it comes to efficiency, Toyota claims the car can achieve 56-60.1mpg on the combined cycle while emitting 89g/km of CO2.

If you look at the GR Sport as a younger brother to the GRMN, the powertrain is going to be a massive letdown. It’s a far cry from the Lotus-sourced supercharged 1.8-litre found in the full-fat Yaris, instead offering very little in the way of fizz or fun.

Sure, it’s efficient, but it’s a real mismatch for the chassis. Speaking of…

What’s the Toyota Yaris GR Sport like to drive?

Toyota has made a real effort with the chassis to try and upgrade the driving dynamics of the Yaris Hybrid, here introducing Sachs Performance suspension found on the GRMN as well as an anti-roll bar for increased stiffness, while also wrapping its 17-inch alloy wheels in sticky Bridgestone Potenza RE50 tyres.

The effects are certainly noticeable. The car inspires confidence when driven harder, and there’s far more grip than you could ever really need — which in itself highlights the main issue of the GR Sport; the powertrain-chassis mismatch.

It leaves a sense that a more potent and characterful engine would’ve really made this an exceptionally fun car, or that sticking with the GR appearance and not bothering with the racy mechanical upgrades would’ve resulted in a perfectly fine, nice-looking thing.

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As it stands, it’s just a very firm car sitting in a weird middle ground.

Verdict

We like — nay, adore — the idea of a baby Yaris GRMN. That car is astonishing, and a cheaper version that could capture some of its hot-hatch spirit while being more useable would be an appealing prospect.

The GR Sport is not that car though. While the chassis has the potential to deliver on fun, it’s let down by a powertrain that never really feels at home when being pushed. And when you do drive it with efficiency in mind, the racier enhancements just comprise on the car’s comfort too much.

There’s a lot left to be desired from the GR Sport, and hopefully that’s a gap Toyota will choose to fill.

Similar cars

Ford Fiesta ST, Suzuki Swift Sport, Vauxhall Corsa GSi

Key specifications

Model as tested: Toyota Yaris GR Sport
Price (on-road): £20,735
Engine: 1.5-litre petrol-electric hybrid
Gearbox: continuously-variable automatic transmission (CVT)
Power: 100hp
Torque: 125Nm
Top speed: 103 mph
0-60mph: 11.6 seconds
Fuel economy (WLTP combined): 56-60.1 mpg
CO2 emissions: 89 g/km

Ryan Hirons
Ryan Hirons
Articles by Ryan Hirons are provided for The Car Expert by PA Media (formerly the Press Association). They include test drives of the latest new cars and features on various aspects of automotive life.

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