Toyota’s pocket rocket is set to get an automatic transmission and more power.

    The company had already confirmed an auto version of its GR Yaris was in testing, and now Japanese outlet Best Car Web reports it’s going on sale next year.

    Production will reportedly begin in January 2024, with deliveries in Japan commencing between March and May. The existing six-speed manual transmission will be joined by an eight-speed automatic option with paddle shifters.

    The turbocharged 1.6-litre three-pot petrol under the bonnet will also reportedly receive the same outputs as the larger GR Corolla, which pumps out 221kW and 370Nm.

    The GR Yaris currently produces 200kW and 370Nm, though the hot Japanese-market GRMN model received a bump in torque to 390Nm, as did models with the optional Performance Upgrade 2.0.

    Best Car Web reports there will also be upgrades to the suspension and brakes, along with improvements in body rigidity.

    There will also reportedly be cosmetic updates: a tweaked front bumper, an available, larger rear spoiler, and the inclusion of the GR Corolla’s 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster.

    Toyota GR Corolla chief engineer Naoyuki Sakamoto told CarExpert earlier this year the brand was working on an auto for both the GR Yaris and GR Corolla.

    “It’s possible. We are testing an automatic transmission in the GR Yaris in the Japanese rally team,” Sakamoto-san said.

    “We have joined the rally series with a GR Yaris with automatic transmission, and with each rally if we find some issues, we improve it. Such kind of activity is the central idea of the GR company – always from motorsports development.”

    “If the automatic transmission is good enough for the GR models, it can be applied to the GR Yaris, GR Corolla or other GR models,” he added, but he went on to say that it can’t just be a gearbox that does the job for the driver, and that it needs to be fit for purpose.

    “The automatic transmission needs to be good enough for the sports car, not just easy driving. That is a minimum requirement for the GR model. So if we can’t achieve that, maybe we have to give up! I’m not sure!” he laughed.

    Sakamoto-san said the vehicle currently under development in the rally team is a ‘regular’ torque-converter automatic with eight gears, rather than a dual-clutch auto or CVT.

    “In the test vehicle it is a ‘normal’ automatic transmission, but with changed gear ratios – we modified it. We are developing it, so each time we modify something to improve it. Each time we may change something, nothing is fixed,” he said.

    “We are studying what kind of gear ratio is good, how many gear steps are good.”

    He further explained the GR-Four all-wheel drive system in the GR Yaris and GR Corolla will not be affected by the adoption of an automatic transmission.

    “Basically it should not affect that – the transfer coupling is just [behind] the transmission, so the transmission itself doesn’t affect the all-wheel drive system,” he said.

    Toyota Australia reopened orders for the GR Yaris last November after a lengthy pause, but for an allocation of just 160 vehicles over 12 months.

    MORE: Everything Toyota Yaris

    William Stopford

    William Stopford is an automotive journalist based in Brisbane, Australia. William is a Business/Journalism graduate from the Queensland University of Technology who loves to travel, briefly lived in the US, and has a particular interest in the American car industry.

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