Toyota GR Yaris Review 2024

Written by Andrew Brady

heycar ratingRally-bred hot hatch justifies the hype
  • 2021
  • Hot hatch
  • Petrol

Quick overview


  • Staggering performance
  • Improved interior from 2024
  • Used examples from less than £30,000


  • Small boot and firm ride
  • A new one costs more than £44,000...
  • ...and that's if you can get one

Overall verdict on the Toyota GR Yaris

"You'll either get the Toyota GR Yaris or you won't. It's essentially a small hatchback with a lot of power, four-wheel drive and a hefty price tag... but to anyone who loves cars, it's so much more than that. It's an engineering masterpiece that'll turn heads and put a smile on your face whenever you drive it. Updates in 2024 add to the appeal, making it even better to drive and easier to live with... you will pay a price for that, though."

Toyota GR Yaris Review 2024: front dynamic

Before we go into detail about the Toyota GR Yaris, it's probably worth explaining what a homologation special is. A homologation special is a road-legal car developed by a manufacturer in order to go racing or rallying. It's usually sold in (very) limited numbers in order to meet requirements for a race series. Examples from back in the day include the Ford Escort RS Cosworth, BMW E30 M3 and Audi Sport Quattro S1 - all iconic (and very desirable) classic cars today.

Homologation specials aren't really a thing any more. Rallying doesn't have the following it once did - so it's difficult to justify development costs - while the performance car market is shrinking. But Toyota launched its own homologation special - the GR Yaris - back in 2021, and we think it's one of the best performance cars you can buy.

That might sound surprising considering it is, essentially, a Toyota Yaris. But it actually shares very little with the regular car. Developed for Gazoo Racing (Toyota's World Rally Championship team), the GR Yaris features a bespoke three-door bodyshell, a carbonfibre roof and the world's most powerful three-cylinder production engine ever. So yeah, it's pretty different to your nan's Yaris Hybrid.

Car enthusiasts love the Toyota GR Yaris, and rightly so. That's why it's consistently been sold out since it went on sale in 2021, and prices for a used Toyota GR Yaris remain strong. The model was given quite a significant update in 2024, including a revamped interior, power boost and, perhaps controversially, the option of an automatic gearbox for the first time. That's not quite as controversial as the significant price hike - which sees a new Toyota GR Yaris now starting from more than £44,000 - but demand is higher than ever, with wannabe GR Yaris buyers having to take part in a ballot for the limited number coming to the UK.

Looking for a used car for sale? We've got 100s of Toyota Approved Used Cars for Sale for you to choose from, including a wide range of Toyota GR Yaris models for sale.

If you love driving and a 'normal' hot hatch won't cut it, the Toyota GR Yaris is an excellent choice. It feels special to drive, while the updates made in 2024 make it even more desirable. It's not the most practical choice and some people will question the logic of spending so much money on a Toyota Yaris... but those who get it will think you're an absolute hero.

We like the updated 2024 Toyota GR Yaris but getting one will be difficult - and, if you can, you'll be paying extremely strong money. With that in mind, we suspect most Toyota GR Yaris buyers will be happy with the original GR Yaris - you can pick one up for as little as £25,000, just make sure it has the optional (and desirable) Circuit Pack fitted. Cars without it are rare... so rare, in fact, that it's now standard on the new Toyota GR Yaris.

While there are other hot hatches on the market, there's nothing else quite as extreme as the Toyota GR Yaris. The Hyundai i20N and Ford Fiesta ST are both are a lot of fun, although neither can still be bought new. The bigger Honda Civic Type R is perhaps a more serious competitor, while you might also want to consider the Volkswagen Golf GTI or even the Volkswagen Golf R.

Comfort and design: Toyota GR Yaris interior

"One of the most obvious updates to the 2024 Toyota GR Yaris is the blocky new dashboard. While we wouldn't call it pretty, it's certainly purposeful: angled slightly towards the driver, it puts all the controls within easy reach. It's also slightly lower than the old dashboard, improving the view out from the (now lower) driver's seat."

Toyota GR Yaris Review 2024: interior dashboard

Whether you like the new dash or not, it does at least differentiate the interior from the regular Yaris. The standard Toyota Yaris sticks with its curvier cabin; it's nice to have something a little different when you're paying such a hefty premium over the regular car.

Not that the pre-facelift Toyota GR Yaris fails to feel a bit special. The supportive sports seats hold you in place during enthusiastic cornering, while there are GR badges everywhere to remind you what you're driving. There's even a special plaque on the centre console.

You do sit a little higher than ideal on earlier cars, though - something that Toyota's own rally drivers complained about and was fixed with the 2024 update. That's why the seats are now 25mm lower than before, providing a more sports-car-like driving position.

The pre-facelift Toyota GR Yaris was sold with conventional analogue dials which are clear and easy to read, but the new model gets a 12.3-inch digital display. This provides two switchable models - normal or sport, the latter with a performance-focused data display. We like it - it's pretty simple and free of any unnecessary information, which adds to the GR Yaris's focused vibe.

If you're looking for a plush cabin with lots of soft-touch finishes, you might want to look elsewhere. While the interior of the Toyota GR Yaris feels robust and well-made, it's certainly not luxurious. The new 2024 dashboard looks like a big slab of plastic (because that's what it is), while the focus on reducing weight means you won't find any unneccessary materials. And that's exactly how a Japanese performance car should be.

Buy an early Toyota GR Yaris and you'll get a fairly basic but user-friendly eight-inch infotainment system that sits proudly on the dashboard. It's a bit clunky and old school, but we like the physical shortcut buttons that run alongside it. Navigation wasn't offered on cars with the Circuit Pack (that's the majority of UK GR Yaris models), but Apple CarPlay and Android Auto was standard (meaning you can use Google Maps from your phone instead).

A slightly revised infotainment display was offered on the updated 2024 model. It remains the same size, but it's positioned lower down and now angled slightly towards the driver. The shortcut buttons are gone, too, but at least the heating and ventilation controls haven't been lumped into the media system.

Measuring 3995mm long, 1805mm wide and 1455mm high, the Toyota GR Yaris is one of the smallest hot hatches on sale. It's noticeably more compact than, say, a Honda Civic Type R or Hyundai i30 N.

As such, you're going to struggle if you want to use a GR Yaris as your main family car. It's perfectly spacious up front, but the rear seats are a struggle to get into (it's only offered with three doors), while the boot is tiny. It can officially accommodate just 174 litres of luggage, which is about half what you get in a Hyundai i20 N.

On the plus side, the Toyota GR Yaris is a much more useable everyday proposition than, say, a Mazda MX-5. Consider it a sports car that can occasionally carry rear-seat passengers and the GR Yaris starts to make a little more sense in terms of practicality.

Handling and ride quality: What is the Toyota GR Yaris like to drive?

"It's quite comical that such a serious, focused hot hatch sports a Toyota Yaris badge. It couldn't have less in common with the regular Yaris Hybrid - this is a car that loves to be grabbed by the scruff of its neck and chucked down a winding mountain road or even thrown around on a deserted test track. If you're the kind of person who enjoys driving, you'll love the Toyota GR Yaris."

Toyota GR Yaris Review 2024: rear dynamic

The Toyota GR Yaris differs from other hot hatches in a number of ways. For one thing it has an all-wheel-drive drivetrain, meaning power is split between the front and rear axles. That doesn't make it any less enjoyable to drive; quite the opposite, in fact - especially as selectable drive modes allow you to send more power to the rear axle. The result? Quite lively handling characteristics - the rear end is happy to pivot around the front should you provoke it. It's not intimidating, though, and there is a huge amount of grip available... more so than most front-wheel-drive hot hatches that'll often spin up the front wheels or continue alarmingly in a straight line if you're optimistic with your entry speed.

A popular option on the original Toyota GR Yaris was the Circuit Pack which added things like stiffer suspension, limited-slip differentials and stickier tyres. So popular, in fact, that few buyers bought a GR Yaris without out. Because of that, all Toyota GR Yaris models sold in the UK now have the Circuit Pack as standard.

We used to like how compliant the original Toyota GR Yaris was (with or without the Circuit Pack) but, even during our test drive on smooth French tarmac, we can tell that the updated model is noticeably firmer. That's good news for outright pace, but you'll have to live with a slight degree of uncomfortableness on bumpy British roads.

That's a small price to pay for the outstanding handling of the GR Yaris, though. And otherwise, it's exceptionally easy to live with. Sure, the turning circle is surprisingly big for a car of this size, but the steering is light enough and visibility is perfectly good. It's certainly a sports car you could live with every day.

This is another area in which the GR Yaris is quite unique. It boasts the most powerful three-cylinder engine you can buy: a 1.6-litre turbocharged unit that originally produced 261PS and 360Nm of torque. Apparently that wasn't enough punch for some buyers, which is why the Toyota GR Yaris now packs 280PS and 390NM of torque.

Those figures are officially good for a 0-62mph time of 5.5 seconds for the old model, or just 5.2 seconds for the newer GR Yaris. We have a sneaking suspicion that these figures are actually quite conservative, though - we've heard of some drivers successfully breaking the sub-5.0-second barrier with little effort. Top speed for all GR Yaris models is an electronically limited 143mph.

A six-speed manual gearbox is standard on the Toyota GR Yaris. It's a brilliant gearbox - easy to use with a direct, snickety response that'll have you changing gear for the fun of it.

For those who don't want the effort of changing gear, an eight-speed automatic gearbox was added to the range in 2024. This is a rather old-school automatic transmission but it works pretty well - it'll change gears at a lightning pace and rarely leaves you hanging in the wrong ratio. Purists will hate the idea of an auto gearbox in this car but we certainly wouldn't judge you for it - especially as it leaves you free to concentrate on more important matters like perfecting your racing line.

At first, the Toyota GR Yaris almost sounds a bit disappointing. It's not exactly dramatic at start up - it almost sounds like any other small hatchback. Technology is on hand, though, to pipe some synthetic noise into the cabin. It's not overwhelming but does add a little drama in the one area the GR Yaris might otherwise be lacking.

Other than that, you will notice some tyre roar and a bit of wind noise inside the GR's cabin. It's nothing too irritating but this is, fundamentally, a hot hatch - so don't go expecting to cruise along in near-silence.

While it might be a performance car, the Toyota GR Yaris isn't short on standard safety kit. Highlights include the Emergency Steering Assist, which can increase the steering response when swerving to avoid a collision, while the Lane Trace Assist will help you remain in your lane (following the path of the vehicle ahead if the lane markings are obscured).

A rear-view camera is standard on all Toyota GR Yaris models, as well as automatic high beam and intelligent adaptive cruise control. There are also ISOFIX child seat mounting points on the outer rear seats.

MPG and fuel costs: What does a Toyota GR Yaris cost to run?

"The Toyota GR Yaris guzzles fuel at around twice the rate of a Yaris Hybrid. That's the price you pay for the performance on offer, though. We suspect few buyers will be that concerned about fuel economy but, if you are, you might find a more conventional front-wheel-drive hot hatch to be more efficient."

Toyota GR Yaris Review 2024: front dynamic

Officially the Toyota GR Yaris will return a fuel economy figure of 32.5mpg or 29.7mpg with the automatic gearbox. In our experience, you can expect to see pretty close to that during day-to-day driving - in fact, readers report average fuel economy of around 31.5mpg. Obviously, though, that figure will drop quite significantly if you're exploiting all of the GR Yaris's performance.

Toyota is the king of reliability, and we doubt the GR Yaris will be any different. We haven't heard of any common issues with the Toyota GR Yaris, but we do know that Toyota's engineers and rally drivers have been challenged to break it during testing. When they succeeded, a fix was developed to prevent it happening again. If the GR Yaris can cope with rally driving, it ought to be a fairly reliable everyday car.

A regular Toyota GR Yaris sits in insurance group 35, while one with the Circuit Pack is in group 36. What this means in reality depends on factors like your driving experience, location and even what you do for work. If you're a young driver or have a few incidents to your name, you might find that the Toyota GR Yaris is alarmingly expensive to insure - do shop around for quotes first.

If you buy a secondhand Toyota GR Yaris registered before 2024, you'll pay a flat rate of £190/year in tax. That's because it's petrol car with a list price (when new) of less than £40,000.

Unfortunately, the 2024 price hike means the latest GR Yaris will cost more in tax. For five years (from the second time it's taxed), a 2024 Toyota GR Yaris will cost a hefty £600/year in tax. That's made up of the regular £190 VED, plus an additional £410/year in premium car tax. That'll apply to most performance cars, unfortunately, unless you buy an electric car or one with a list price of less than £40,000.

How much should you be paying for a used Toyota GR Yaris?

"The desirability of the Toyota GR Yaris means used prices are pretty strong. You can pick up an early example for as little as £27,000, though, which is a considerable chunk less than the latest GR Yaris."

Toyota GR Yaris Review 2024: rear dynamic

You might struggle to get your hands on the new 2024 Toyota GR Yaris. Numbers will be limited in the UK - certainly compared to the original model - so it won't be a matter of just visiting your nearest Toyota dealer and placing an order. Indeed, the first batch of GR Yaris models are already spoken for, following a ballot for the UK's 2024 allocation.

It's also been given quite a chunky price hike compared to its predecessor (the whole supply and demand thing...), with prices now starting from around £44,000. The new limited edition models are priced at a hefty £60,000.

Not fussed about having the latest updated car? A budget of £30,000 will get you a 2022 model which will almost be as much fun as the latest GR Yaris. Being a Toyota, too, you needn't be too concerned about reliability of an older car - although we have heard that some parts can be expensive.

Standard equipment on the 2024 Toyota GR Yaris includes rear privacy glass, black exterior highlights, keyless entry and start, automatic headlights and wipers, a three-spoke leather steering wheel, aluminium pedals, suede-like door trim, front sports seats, 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, dual-zone automatic air conditioning, a limited slip differential, dual exhaust pipes, selectable drive modes, automatic high beam, adaptive LED headlights, rear-view camera, emergency steering assist, road sign assist, adaptive cruise control, hill-start assist and Isofix seat fixings. Infotainment features include an eight-inch navigation system, wireless smartphone integration, DAB radio and voice recognition.

Highlights on the Toyota GR Yaris Ogier include a 4WD ‘Ogier Mode’ with GR-FOUR AWD switch, bespoke Matte Stealth Grey exterior, blue interior stitching, blue brake calipers, GRMN carbon fibre rear spoiler, vinyl body stripe, front and rear parking sensors, blind spot monitor, safe exit assist, rear cross traffic alert, JBL premium sound system and a heated steering wheel.

The Toyota GR Yaris Rovanperä features exclusive three-tone paintwork, steering wheel stitching in Finnish national colours (blue/grey), carbon fibre GRMN rear wing, red brake calipers, Rovanperä specific drive modes, blind spot monitor and a heated steering wheel.

Ask the heycar experts: common questions

With limited UK allocation, Toyota opened a ballot for the 2024 Toyota GR Yaris. Only a handful of lucky customers were able to buy a brand new GR Yaris.
Prices for the 2024 Toyota GR Yaris start from £44,250.
The new GR Yaris benefits from even more power and torque and the introduction of an optional brand-new eight-speed automatic gearbox. Maximum power and torque figures have risen to 280PS and 390Nm. The bespoke GR Yaris chassis has been further strengthened and in the cabin the cockpit layout and driving position have been redrawn for a more authentic sports car feel. The suspension has also been adjusted for greater handling control and robust performance under high loads.

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