Toyota unveils world’s most powerful three-cylinder hot hatch: epic 192kW output for all-wheel-drive GR Yaris.
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The 2020 Toyota GR Yaris hot hatch has shed its disguise in a dust-covered debut that pays tribute to the brand’s world rally heritage.

Although price is yet to be announced, Toyota has laid bare all the facts and figures behind its first in-house all-wheel-drive performance car in 20 years.

An epic output of 192kW is believed to make the Toyota GR Yaris the most powerful three-cylinder in the world.

Indeed, the 192kW/360Nm output from the 1.6-litre three-cylinder turbo is higher than the 164kW/300Nm from the 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo in the $320,000 BMW i8 hybrid supercar.

Because the three-door Toyota GR Yaris weighs less than 1300kg – 1280kg without the driver – the car has a better power-to-weight ratio than the Volkswagen Golf GTI and Golf R, Hyundai i30N, Renault Megane RS, and the Subaru WRX and WRX STI.

Only the Honda Civic Type R has a better power-to-weight ratio among the current crop of hot hatches (see our list below).

The secret behind its light weight – aside from its pint-sized proportions – is the use of aluminium panels for the bonnet, doors and rear hatch, and a carbon-fibre roof straight out of the BMW and Porsche playbook.

Toyota designed and developed the GR Yaris to form the basis of its next World Rally Championship program, but hopes it will become popular among circuit racers and weekend track day warriors.

The regular Toyota Yaris five-door range is due in Australian showrooms mid-year but the GR Yaris is not due until late 2020.

The three-door does not share a single panel with the five-door and it has a sleeker and wider body.

Price is yet to be announced, but at the preview test drive in Europe last year a senior Toyota Australia executive said the car would be “attainable” rather than affordable.

Most other hot hatches in the city-car class – such as the VW Polo GTI and the upcoming Ford Fiesta ST – are priced in the $30,000 to $35,000 price bracket.

However, some industry analysts believe the price of the GR Yaris could eclipse $40,000 in Australia, potentially blunting its appeal given that it is a three-door, six-speed manual-only proposition.

Two versions of the Toyota GR Yaris will be offered overseas, but Australia will only get the standard version. It has the same power output, lightweight panels, and big brakes, but misses out on sticky Michelin tyres and mechanical limited-slip differentials.

The GR Yaris all-wheel-drive system, adapted from the Toyota RAV4, allows for a “theoretical range” of front-to-rear torque distribution from 100:0 (full front-wheel drive) to 0:100 (full rear-wheel drive).

Toyota says this flexibility provides a performance advantage over on-demand all-wheel-drive systems that use twin-coupling or permanent all-wheel-drive hardware with a centre differential. The GR Yaris all-wheel-drive system is also considerably lighter than other layouts, Toyota says.

In normal mode, front-to-rear torque distribution is 60:40; in Sport mode the balance shifts to 30:70, and Track defaults to 50:50 distribution before automatically adjusting to conditions.

The front brakes comprise of four-piston calipers clamping 356mm discs (the rears are 297mm discs), behind lightweight 18-inch alloy wheels.

Toyota says production of each GR Yaris requires a high number of manual processes on the Japanese production line. However, the company says, its new manufacturing methods are capable of handling small-volume production models such as these.

How the Toyota Yaris GR stacks up in a power-to-weight battle

Front-drive class rivals:

Front-drive rivals in the next class up:

All-wheel-drive rivals in the next class up:

Sources: Power and weight figures supplied by manufacturers, 0 to 100kmh times are either manufacturer claims or based on our testing using precision timing equipment, based on an average of runs in two directions.