After years of watching the rest of the world pull handbrake turns, squeal tires around city blocks, and generally raise mayhem in Toyota's spicy GR special-edition models, we've long been hurtin' for anything wearing the Gazoo Racing badge to arrive on our shores. At long last, one has—that'd be the new GR Supra!—but now there's a fresh shiny GR object for us to covet, and Toyota just rubbed salt, squeezed a lemon, and dribbled some Tabasco into our eyes for even looking at it.
That's right, the 2020 Toyota GR Yaris is so rad, and we want it so very badly, that it probably should come as no surprise that it won't be sold in America. To describe the GR Yaris as "rally-inspired" really undersells things. This is no mere trim package slapped onto the foreign-market version of the subcompact Yaris, which sits on Toyota's latest TNGA platform.
Instead, the hot hatch uses performance technology derived directly from Toyota's successful WRC program. Its spec sheet reads like something from the 1990s, when Japanese manufacturers offered real-deal racing homologation specials to compete at the highest levels of rally competition. That's because this itty-bitty pocket rocket actually is a legit homologation special, a required production model to qualify the Yaris for competition in the FIA World Rally Championship, or WRC.
The wee little monster is powered by a 1.6-liter turbocharged three-cylinder spitting out a staggering 268 horsepower and 272 lb-ft of torque. You're looking at the most powerful three-pot to hit production, ever. All this firepower courses to all four wheels through a six-speed manual transmission and Toyota's all-new "GR-Four" all-wheel-drive system. The all-wheel drive's multiplate-clutch center differential can be set to Normal, Sport, or Track modes, and is one of the most advanced set-ups we've seen yet on Toyota's relatively new TNGA platform. (TNGA also underpins the latest Prius, Corolla, Camry, and RAV4 models, some of which offer differing all-wheel-drive setups—none like this.) The front-to-rear torque split can be varied from 60/40 (Normal mode) to 30/70 (in Sport); the Track setting nets an even 50/50 split front-to-rear.
The chassis appears ready for the rigors of dirt-road shenanigans and track-day records with a full independent suspension. Toyota to builds the GR Yaris's structure "from scratch to achieve a high-rigidity body of highly refined balance while also optimizing front and rear suspension geometry." It's light, too; the hood, trunklid, and door panels are all aluminum, while the roof is carbon-reinforced plastic, bringing the total weight down to just 2,821 pounds. Compared to the regular JDM Yaris, the roofline is 3.6 inches lower.
Predictably, all this hardware results in some healthy performance figures. Zero to 62 mph takes 5.5 seconds, and the angry Yaris won't stop accelerating until it hits 143 mph. Not enough go-fast for you, discerning high-performance tiny-car buyer? There is an optional "Circuit Pack" that includes front-and-rear Torsen limited-slip differentials, an upgraded suspension, 18-inch wheels, and Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires.
Yeah, you and everyone else (us included) wants one. Unfortunately, the chances of this making it Stateside are essentially nil. Not only is the regular workaday TNGA-based Yaris not even offered here—again, we're stuck with our separate, Mazda-based Yaris with all of 106 horsepower—it'd likely be ludicrously expensive if Toyota did lose a marble and send it to our market. If you do happen to live in Japan or Europe, the GR Yaris is expected to start at something equivalent to $40,000.