Many argue that hot hatchbacks should always be paired with manual transmissions. After all, these cars are more about the thrilling sensations behind the wheel rather than simply going fast in a straight line. But for Toyota, such vehicles shouldn’t be limited to those who can use three pedals. In doing so, it has created a way for more people to experience the Gazoo Racing magic.
The Japanese carmaker has just updated the GR Yaris, and one of the major changes to it is the optional eight-speed automatic transmission. Its eight ratios can keep the engine within striking distance of its power band, and the shift logic can be adjusted with a selection of configurable drive modes. In a bid to highlight its supposed reliability, Toyota claims that it thanked drivers for destroying the gearbox during testing.
The GR Yaris’s already punchy turbo motor also gets its own updates in the form of significant performance gains. Power is increased to 300hp from 268hp, and torque is bumped up to 400Nm from 370Nm. From what we gather, these numbers are the same for both manual and automatic variants.
Toyota has even gone to great lengths to make the GR Yaris more user-friendly for racing. The dashboard controls are now slightly angled toward the driver. The gear selector of automatic-equipped cars is lengthened to match the shift lever of the manual transmission. Stripped-down, competition-spec models can even get a vertical handbrake just like a rally car.
Aside from mild cosmetic revisions like new bumpers and taillights, changes to the GR Yaris’s monocoque make it more rigid than ever. Additionally, heat dissipation seems to be a key engineering goal with an optional Cooling Package that includes a cold-air intake and an intercooler spray nozzle. Finally, a GPS-triggered Circuit Mode activates a trick anti-lag system and speeds up the radiator fan for even more cooling.
Automatic transmissions can sometimes tone down the excitement of driving a performance car. But it looks like Toyota has done its homework and created a slushbox that can truly complement its rally-bred GR Yaris and allow it to be enjoyed by a wider range of customers.