One of the few manual-only hot hatches is getting an automatic.
The updated Toyota GR Yaris gains the option of a long-awaited eight-speed automatic transmission, joining the existing six-speed manual.
Sales will begin in Japan in the northern spring (March to May 2024), with production for our market commencing late in 2024. Toyota Australia hasn’t confirmed launch timing.
Toyota says the new transmission can anticipate when shifting is necessary even before changes in vehicle behaviour occur, while its use of highly heat-resistant friction material has resulted in “world-class gear-shifting speeds”.
The updated pint-sized hot hatch also gets extra power and torque from its turbocharged 1.6-litre three-cylinder engine.
Outputs have been increased: from 200kW of power and 370Nm of torque to 224kW at 6500rpm and 400Nm between 3250rpm and 4600rpm.
Other mechanical changes include more bolts fastening the body to the shock absorbers, plus an increase in body rigidity through a 13 per cent increase in the number of spot welding points and a 24 per cent expansion in the area where structural adhesive is applied.
Auto models get a transmission fluid cooler, while an optional Cooling Package includes a sub-radiator, cool air intake and intercooler sprayer.
A new Circuit drive mode features anti-lag control and a recalibrated speed limiter.
Inside, Toyota has redesigned the cockpit for greater ergonomics with the control panel and display tilted 15 degrees towards the driver, inspired by Super Taikyu Series and Japanese Rally Championship race cars.
Toyota has also repositioned switches for ease of use, even when the driver is harnessed to the seat, and improved visibility by moving the rear-view mirror and lowering the upper edge of the centre stack.
Both the steering wheel and driving position have been adjusted, with the latter lowered by 25mm.
There’s also a new 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster that can display key data like oil temperature.
The competition-oriented RC trim level in Japan also gets a dramatic vertical parking brake.
Externally, there are restyled headlights and tail lights, while the front bumper has been restyled and the lower grille gets a new steel mesh.
The lower side grilles also have larger openings for greater cooling performance.
An opening at the lower edge of the rear lower garnish also allows air and heat to escape, thereby reducing drag and improving stability.
Toyota has also relocated the high-mounted rear brake light from the spoiler for greater customisation.
The company says it has engineered an auto for the GR Yaris based on chairman Akio Toyoda’s “desire to provide the fun of driving to as many people as possible and expand the base of motorsports”.
It employed TGR World Rally Team drivers to test the new transmission by putting the car through its paces across various road surfaces, including snow-covered roads in Finland.
Automatic GR Yaris models were also put to the test in the Toyota Gazoo Racing Rally Challenge.
With the automatic transmission, the GR Yaris weighs only 20kg more at 1300kg.
Toyota has yet to officially confirm whether the GR Corolla, with which the GR Yaris shares its turbo three-pot and four-wheel drive system, will also get the auto.
MORE: Everything Toyota Yaris