Men piloting the GR Yaris have won the Driver’s Championship at the top level of the World Rally Championship for the past five years: Estonian Ott Tanak in 2019, Frenchman Sebastien Ogier in 2020 and 2021, Finn Kalle Rovanpera in 2022 and 2023. At the end of the 2022 season, in celebration, Toyota created two special editions of the GR Yaris in Japanese-market RZ High Performance trim, one of the cars tuned by Ogier, the other by Rovanpera. You know what they say about one good turn, so here we are again with two more special editions.
Both hot hatches get two retuned driving modes that replace the stock Track and Gravel modes in the Yaris RZ High Performance, and each features a Start/Stop button with the respective driver’s name on it.
Rovanpera’s GR Yaris goes with a swan-neck rear wing in carbon fiber, red brake calipers behind 18-inch BBS wheels, and is dressed in a red, white, and gray camo pattern slightly different to last year’s. Blue and silver stitching adorn the steering wheel, shifter boot, parking brake handle, and seats. The exclusive Kalle Mode gets a revamped rear diff tuned for “aggressively swinging out the vehicle’s rear when entering a curve and pulling forward the vehicle’s front using the accelerator when exiting a curve, contributing to shorter race times.” And the Donut Mode is for controlled drifts during actions like handbrake turns.
Ogier’s GR Yaris adds a larger rear stabilizer and blue brake calipers, and comes in a special bi-tone of glossy silver with black accents on the doors. The cabin’s got special red, white, and blue stitching on the steering wheel. In this one, Seb Mode sends a majority of torque to the back axle, making the Yaris handle more like a rear-wheel driver. And the Morizo Mode, features a handling tune developed by and named for Toyota Chairman Akio Toyoda’s racing pseudonym, which Ogier happens to like. We should note that it seems like Ogier gets the glory of a custom car thanks to services rendered to Toyota and the sport. In 2022, Toyota driver Elfyn Evans finished fourth in the Driver’s Championship, two spots ahead of Ogier, who had only entered six events. Last season, Evans finished second in the driver’s table, Ogier, again on a limited schedule, in fifth. Ogier, who won six WRC driver’s titles with Volkswagen and Ford before joining Toyota, is again on limited duty this year. So if Evans can reach the top step at the end of 2024, perhaps he’ll get a special Yaris in 2025.
Toyota introduced the two special hatches at the just-concluded Monte Carlo Rally (that Hyundai won). The automaker plans to hold a lottery in Japan to choose buyers, those lucky enough to take one home will receive additional perks such as their names on Toyota’s WRC cars for the rest of the 2024 season, and special access to the Toyota team during Rally Japan.