To be clear, there’s no suggestion that Toyoda lacks mechanical sympathy or skills behind the wheel. Instead, this was a deliberate testing cycle inspired by the development of race and rally cars. “This was a really important process,” says Saito. “It was key to making it stronger. In motorsport, a vehicle has to be driven in the most severe conditions. During the GR Yaris development, Toyoda-san asked us to repeat the cycle: break it, fix it, make it stronger. In future, we can apply this development process to other models, including GR models and other Toyota models.”
With the guidance of Toyoda and the WRC team, the GR Yaris began to take shape as a vehicle unlike anything else Toyota produces. That individuality goes beyond the all-wheel drive system: the platform is a unique fusion of Toyota’s GA-B and GA-C platforms that has been designed to accommodate double-wishbone rear suspension, and the all-new, 258bhp 1.6-litre turbocharged engine is intended to allow for a future second-tier WRC2 competition car.
Then there’s the lightweight bodyshell, which uses virtually nothing from the standard Yaris and makes copious use of aluminium and forged-carbon composite. At the behest of the rally team, to aid with homologation of the 2022 Rally1 Yaris, the roofline was lowered, a spoiler was added and the GR Yaris has just three, rather than five, doors.
While the design and final engineering may have come from Gazoo Racing, those design features and technologies would not have been possible without the help of the wider Toyota company. “The powertrain department really worked on the engine, and the material engineering aided us with the lightweight body,” explains Saito. “The electrical systems and production engineers also provided amazing help.
“We didn’t have many of the technologies we needed in-house, so everyone put in remarkable efforts to help us achieve the performance we wanted – and for an affordable cost.”
That ‘affordable cost’ point is significant, and particularly so given the expense of developing such a singular car, one that will never sell in the sort of volumes for which the world’s biggest car maker would normally aim. But the company accountants are likely to be the only people who are, at worst, mildly unhappy with the result.