Over the many years in this game, I’ve been lucky enough to drive loads of amazing cars from various manufacturers, and the all-around best was hands down the Toyota GR Yaris. It ticked all the right boxes for me; compact hatchback, turbocharged, all-wheel drive, manual transmission and brilliant bang for buck. In OEM form, the car is massively competent on circuits, and on gravel roads, it shows just how good the underpinnings are. It’s one of the few cars you could buy and be happy enough with it to not want to or need to modify anything. Of course, because it ticks all my specific boxes, it doesn’t mean it will tick all yours. Just know that if you disagree, you’re wrong. One of the biggest things was having a manual transmission like all driver’s cars should have, but while this was a selling point for many, there were still people out there wanting an auto option. The recent evolution of the hot hatch for 2024 is impressive, to say the least, but the biggest change is that it can now be had in automatic. The GR Yaris facelift now sees fitment of a newly developed 8-speed GAZOO Racing Direct Automatic Transmission. It’s also a tried and tested upgrade thanks to development with input from drivers in the TGR World Rally Team, Japanese Rally Championship competitors and the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Rally Challenge. In the repeated process of “breaking and fixing”, TGR achieved transmission speed and reliability ready for the masses. It’s clever too, conventional gear shifts rely on sensing vehicle behaviour with deceleration g-force, speed, etc., but this new optimized software also senses the way the driver steps on the brakes and operates the accelerator so it can anticipate when shifting is necessary even before changes in vehicle behaviour occur, realizing gear selection that reflects the driver’s intentions. If you option the RZ “High performance” trim level, you get a Torsen LSD.
There’s a host of other changes too, making this quite an impressive facelift to the car. A brief overview of the changes includes an interior control panel and display now tilted 15 degrees toward the driver for enhanced visibility and operability, the driving position is 25 mm lower, the rearview mirror moved to the top of the windshield, the upper edge of the centre cluster is lowered by 50 mm, the shift lever rises by 75 mm and the hand brake has been adopted for vehicles with the GAZOO Racing Direct Automatic Transmission with a view toward vehicle control in rally and gymkhana driving. We know people who fitted aftermarket setups to get this feature, and now it’s an OEM thing and that’s awesome. We love that Toyota and Gazoo Racing actually monitor what’s happening in the aftermarket scene and they listen to what buyers want and implement those changes. One of the changes to the GR Yaris is to the powerplant, although it’s not massive in terms of numbers, it’s still mightily impressive when you consider the size of the powerplant. The compact turbocharged 1.6 litre 3-cylinder’s power output was rated at 200 kW with the torque rated at 370 Nm, but it’s now risen to 224 kW with 400 Nm of torque. It’s basically been given the same setup as the bigger GR Corolla. The GAZOO Racing Direct Automatic Transmission requires improved cooling performance so an automatic transmission fluid cooler was added as standard, and to further the cooling efforts customers can choose a sub-radiator, cool air intake, and intercooler sprayer as factory-installed options in the form of a “Cooling Package” that takes competing in motorsports into consideration.
Take a look at the YouTube video that details the changes to the already amazing GR Yaris to make it just that much better. The changes to the car are small but will have an amazing impact on everything to do with the car: Looking at the changes, it's pretty clear that someone at Gazoo Racing is listening to what current owners and prospective buyers want to see in the car clearly evident by that hand brake level that looks like it swallowed some Viagra:GR YARIS Trajectory of Never-Ending Challenge and Developments | TOYOTA GAZOO Racing
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