Mark Slack – Road Test

Toyota Yaris GR Sport – sporting looks with handling to match

There was a time when if presented with a small car and an automatic gearbox you would probably opt for a taxi. They weren’t great, but small automatics have moved on and Toyota’s Yaris GR Sport is one of the most fun small automatics to drive and a great place to start singing the praises of such cars.

Priced from €26,475/£22,630 there is a single powertrain across the line-up, except for the rally inspired GR, a 1.5 litre, 3-cylinder hybrid petrol/electric driving through an e-CVT automatic transmission. There is also the Yaris Cross, a pseudo SUV, and the rally inspired GR.

The focus of my attention is the Yaris GR Sport, which has the standard powertrain but a more sporting look inspired by the rally bred GR. four other trim levels are on offer and the GR Sport shares top billing in the range at a not inconsiderable €34,421/£29,420, but does come with a generous range of standard equipment.

Toyota has tweaked the chassis of the GR Sport additional underfloor bracing for increased structural rigidity, reduced aerodynamic drag from revised wheel-arch liners, and retuned shock absorbers and springs. The tyres are also slightly wider than you get on other models.

Standard equipment is excellent with privacy glass, dual zone air conditioning, smart entry and start, auto lights and wipers, powered and heated door mirrors, adaptive cruise control, LED lights including high beam assist and particularly comfortable front sports seats. Fitted with 18-inch alloys wheels and in my test car’s case the extra cost, but wonderful looking, pearlescent Scarlet Flare maroon/red paintwork.

The new Yaris has a presence! It doesn’t look like your average small urban hatch but on the other hand hasn’t adopted that overly aggressive look which, in many people’s eyes blights so many otherwise good cars.  With GR badging and a sporting stance the GR Sport rides on 40 profile tyres, so although the ride is firm it’s not uncomfortably firm.

It may not be a hot hatch but it is dynamically well sorted and great fun on twisty roads. The CVT transmission is actually very good, not always the case with CVTs, and even under enthusiastic acceleration it makes tidy progress. Super comfortable seats make this a really good long distance car if needed, and returning over 60 mpg it’s not going to cost either.

This is a terrific little car and combines the best of sporting looks with economic and comfort bonuses.

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Written by

Mark Slack

If you're a petrol head you're in good hands with Mark Slack, whose expert take on the latest car releases will help you make your next purchase.