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New 2024 Toyota GR Yaris: quicker shifts and more power for homologation special reboot

Toyota’s GR Yaris has been given a thorough overhaul, with more power, more focus and a new gearbox

Toyota has given its GR Yaris hot hatch a significant set of updates for 2024, introducing this ‘gen 2’ car with a new interior, more power, and a new transmission option. Building on the stunning success of the first generation Toyota GR Yaris, the brand has enhanced its road-going rally car by giving it a swathe of choice upgrades that customers have been asking for. 

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Starting under the bonnet, Toyota has given the ultra high-performance three-cylinder engine a boost in power and torque to 276bhp (a nostalgic figure for any JDM fans) and 390Nm. This performance bump has been derived from a tweaked injection system and lighter pistons, and comes packaged with a higher strength valvetrain, new exhaust valves and a new intake pressure sensor. 

Drive is then sent to either a standard six-speed manual or Toyota’s new eight-speed automatic, which has been developed specifically for the GR Yaris. Designed to offer lightning fast shifts, with particular attention paid to downshifts, gearbox’s faster changes and shorter ratios will keep the engine in its ideal operating range for more of the time. 

There are other small detail inclusions, such as the motorsport-derived pull-for-up-push-for-down shift lever configuration, and the ability to change the shift behaviour depending on the chosen driver mode. This will help widen the performance bandwidth of the powertrain, as well as draw a closer connection to the motorsport roots of the Toyota GR Yaris.

From the gearbox, power is then sent to all four wheels via an updated version of the GR-Four all-wheel drive system that uses a set of clutches on either axle that can vary the torque split according to three different settings. 

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These modes have also been updated, with the standard Sport mode maintaining its 40:60 front-to-rear torque split and a new Gravel mode adjusting this to 53:47. The most extreme Track mode is now variable and will automatically adjust the torque balance between 60:40 and 30:70. In any case, the GR Yaris will now only be available in a single high-spec ‘Circuit’ trim, with locking differential on both its axles.

The key difference here is that now these all-wheel drive modes are separated from the three drive modes, Normal, Sport and Eco. In these different mode settings, things like the steering weight, throttle mapping, instruments and air conditioning are adjusted, giving drivers even more variability to the GR Yaris’s overall driving dynamics. 

Toyota has not released performance figures, but we suspect the manual will be slightly faster than the previous Yaris’s 5.5-second time to 62mph, with the automatic dropping this another few tenths thanks to its faster shifts and shorter ratios.

On top of these hardware updates, Toyota has also stiffened the car’s overall structure with more spot welds and nearly 25 per cent more structural adhesive. The suspension mounts are also now more rigid, and there are new springs on the MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear axle.

Visual changes on the outside of the new GR Yaris are subtle, with a new front bumper that improves cooling and helps trim the aero. The new rear bumper has lost the rear fog and reverse light, which together with the third brake light, have been relocated onto the tailgate. This is to reduce replacement costs if damaged and in the case of the brake light, allows buyers to change the rear wing if they wish without needing to relocate it.  

Yet it’s the interior that’s seen the biggest transformation. The whole dash has been completely redesigned, with its top edge now sitting 50mm lower than before. The rear-view mirror has also been relocated in another move that improves forward visibility. In addition to this, the front seats have been lowered by 25mm, answering a key criticism of the previous car’s compromised driving position. 

The dash fascia itself is also new and comes with simple blocky shapes and a new integrated infotainment screen. The dial pack has been replaced with a configurable 12.3-inch display as well. The overall design is very motorsport inspired, and marks a massive change from the standard Toyota Yaris interior on which it is based. 

Toyota will release pricing for the new GR Yaris in March, with first deliveries due in June. While we expect there to be a reasonable price increase to cover the new elements, we suspect it could be just as popular as the already iconic original.

Click here for our list of the best hot hatchbacks on sale right now...

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Senior staff writer

Senior staff writer at Auto Express, Jordan joined the team after six years at evo magazine where he specialised in news and reviews of cars at the high performance end of the car market. 

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