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Toyota Yaris GR Sport (2020 - 2024)

Despite all its dynamic styling, the Yaris GR Sport is still a practical compact five-door hatchback with ample space in the back for a couple of youngsters.

Starting price:
£25,070

Why we love it:
  • Competitively priced and impressive efficiency
  • Excellent safety specifications
  • Easy to drive and dynamic styling
Where it could be better:
  • Some rivals are more fun to drive
  • Can be a little noisy on motorways
  • No sat nav but simple to connect a smartphone

Introduction

Toyota Yaris GR Sport

Naming structures can be a little confusing at times and this is one such occasion. Everyone knows about the fabulous Toyota Yaris, a fun hatchback that is big on style and a superb city car. It comes in flavours called Icon, Design, Excel and GR Sport. 

That all sounds simple enough, but there are more Yaris models out there and they are derived from the Gazoo Racing side of development so have the real hot-hatch edge. These are called the Toyota GR Yaris, not to be confused with the Yaris GR Sport – it’s as clear as mud!

Anyway, we opted for the more traditional Yaris, but in its sportiest guise – the GR Sport for our week-long test putting the car through its paces. And it featured the new fourth-generation hybrid system delivering extra punch and improved economy.

Toyota Yaris GR Sport

The five-door Yaris GR Sport brings a more dynamic styling edge to the line-up with larger 18-inch machined alloy wheels, GR Sport grille mesh, a rear diffuser, GR Sport badging, along with features found on the standard Yaris such as full LED front and rear lights, daytime running lights, a shark fin antenna and body-coloured door mirrors with integrated indicator signals.

The interior has an upmarket and dynamic feel with front sport seats featuring fabric upholstery with neat red stitching and metal pedals. There’s a leather-trimmed gearshift lever and steering wheel also with red stitching, a soft-touch instrument panel and more GR badging.

The main focal point is the eight-inch multimedia screen which offers access to the on-board tech, including a DAB radio, smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth and the six-speaker sound system.

There is no sat nav on the GR Sport model and it’s not available as an option either. On the lower-spec trims Icon and Design, it is offered as an upgrade and it comes as standard on Excel grade. That said; most people connect their phones these days, so inbuilt navigation systems are not as vital as they once were.

On The Road

Toyota Yaris GR Sport

Handling & Performance

The Yaris GR Sport features Toyota’s latest hybrid system which sees all the components being replaced and being optimised for size, weight and efficiency. It boasts a three-cylinder, 1.5-litre petrol engine delivering 90bhp and 120Nm of torque with a total hybrid output of 114bhp.

The new lithium-ion battery has a higher voltage with fewer cells, reduced from 120 to 48. This means the battery is smaller and 12kg lighter than the outgoing version. This in turn means it can be positioned beneath the rear passenger seats avoiding any compromise on boot space.

When it comes to performance, the Yaris GR Sport can reach 62mph from a standing start in 9.7 seconds and has a top speed of 109mph. The acceleration through the e-CVT transmission is smooth and responsive and the car’s low centre of gravity results in confident grip when pushed on through tight bends.

It will cruise at 70mph on motorways, although there is a little tyre rumble and that e-CVT transmission gets a bit raucous if unexpected bursts of pace are required.

There are drive modes called ECO and PWR that alter the handling and efficiency, as well as an EV mode.

In congested city centres, the Yaris GR Sport weaves through the traffic without a care in the world and its compact dimensions, along with reversing camera, make light work of squeezing into tight parking spaces.

Refinement levels are okay with the insulation protecting occupants from most noise intrusion, but the car is fitted with sports suspension which means the ride is fairly hard. Factor in the over-sized 18-inch wheels and you can expect to feel several bumps and dips along the way.

Toyota Yaris GR Sport

Space & Practicality

Despite all its dynamic styling, the Yaris GR Sport is still a practical compact five-door hatchback with ample space in the back for a couple of youngsters. Push those front seats right back and there might be some protests about having next-to-no leg room, but generally it’s comfortable enough.

Up front there’s bundles of room for a couple of six-footers to fit without bumping elbows and, with its cleverly thought out cockpit layout, all controls, dials and readout are perfectly positioned for ease of use.

There is manual seat and steering wheel adjustment available, so finding the ideal driving position is simple.

The vehicle is 3,940mm long, 1,745mm across and 1,500mm tall with a wheelbase of 2,560mm. And the boot can swallow 286 litres of luggage which is plenty big enough for weekend breaks away or a large weekly shop. 

With the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat that limit increases considerably and there are numerous storage options scattered throughout the cabin, including a glovebox, door pockets, a single seat back pocket, cup holders and a small compartment beneath the armrest. It’s worth noting, if you do choose the GR Yaris hot hatch models the boot space drops to 174 litres.

With little ones in mind, there are Isofix fixtures to fit child seats to the outer rear seats.

Ownership

Toyota Yaris GR Sport

Running Costs

The Toyota Yaris line-up is priced from £22,125 for the entry-level Icon model, increasing to £23,185 for the Design and up again to £25,085 for both the Excel and GR Sport model, as tested. If you really want to up the ante, there are those fully pumped-up, rally-inspired GR Yaris hot hatch cars costing from £32,205 to £35,705.

There are a few optional extras available but our test car only featured specialist paint that added a further £615 to the asking price.

With its clever hybrid technology, the day-to-day running costs are very attractive with a WLTP-tested combined fuel efficiency figure of 64.2mpg and carbon emissions of 99g/km.

This CO2 figure would result in a first-year road tax charge of £165 increasing to the standard fee of £170 after the first 12 months. This is a £10 reduction on the standard annual fee as a reward for driving a hybrid.

For company car drivers, the vehicle has a Benefit in Kind tax rating of 24 per cent and it sits in insurance group 14.

Another very appealing fact about going down the Toyota route is the company’s exceptional warranty. While the car comes with a fairly standard three-year, 60,000-mile warranty, it can be extended free of charge to 10 years and 100,000 miles provided the car is serviced regularly at a Toyota-approved workshop.

Verdict

While there are more dynamic hatchbacks out there, it’s worth remembering this is a competitively priced five-door model that offers a lot of kit for the outlay, along with some eye-catching sporty design cues. 

And there are areas we have not covered in this review such as the comprehensive list of safety features that are standard on this car, including a pre-collision system, lane trace assist, intelligent adaptive cruise control, road sign assist, automatic high beam and a full suite of airbags. 

Many rival manufacturers charge extra for these functions, but Toyota has always been a pioneer for safety in cars. And that is good news for anxious parents as their teenagers go in search for their first car. 

This Yaris GR Sport looks the business and drives beautifully but without any of the blistering fire-power of its Gazoo Racing siblings. It’s not so much hot hatch, but more of a tepid understudy.

By Maxine Ashford
Sep 06, 2023

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