Toyota pays tribute to Ogier and Rovanpera – but it's the Rally2 concept which signals GR's future ambitions

By Matt Bird / Friday, 13 January 2023 / Loading comments

For all the stage-to-street success Toyota can claim with something called a GR Yaris winning both championships and comparison tests, the current Rally1 car is so wild that there’s little tangible shared between road car and rally car. That’s set to change with a new rally car from Toyota, the GR Yaris Rally2 concept being shown for the first time at the Tokyo show this weekend.  

Rally2 features less extreme, non-hybrid cars, with manufacturers like Skoda, Ford, Citroen and Hyundai already building eligible racers for customer teams. Toyota’s now going to join the ranks with a GR Yaris Rally2; like all previous entrants, it must use a block and cylinder head ‘based on those in the standard road car’, though the Yaris will be unique in having three cylinders rather than four. Power for Rally2 cars is around 285hp, or just about 25hp more than standard. Even a 1,230kg minimum weight isn’t far from the road car; opt for a Circuit Pack Yaris and you’d have front and rear mechanical diffs like a Rally2 car as well… 

Of course, one look at the rally car will tell you where the differences lie, with a much more dramatic aero package and a suitable rallying ride height courtesy of presumably quite expensive suspension. Looks great, even in black, because all GR Yarises do, but also as Rally2 now occupies that territory of the old days where rally cars looked vaguely relatable to the road cars in showrooms. Toyota is going to compete with a car like this, which it’s provisionally calling the GR Yaris WR Concept, in the Japanese Rally Championship this season, ahead of homologating a Rally2 car for sale and global competition in 2024. 

Elsewhere on the stand at Tokyo is a pair of limited edition road cars, aiming to take advantage of both Toyota’s recent rallying success and a rediscovered fondness for the sport after the first Rally Japan for 12 years took place in 2022. Both the Sebastien Ogier (2021 champion) and Kalle Rovanpera (2022 champ) Edition Concepts are based on the Japanese RZ model, with a boost in torque from standard to 288lb ft.

The Ogier car is the grey one, also identified by the chunky rear spoiler, blue calipers, a ‘dedicated WRC champion decal’ and an interior plaque. The Rovanpera overhaul is broadly similar, though with a much bolder livery and red calipers. Both also have something Google translate is calling a ‘dedicated control’ for each car’s 4WD mode select, though it’s not clear yet exactly what that means. For what it’s worth, Toyota says that settings for both ‘match input from each rally driver’, so they really might be as different to drive as they are to look at.  

Both Rovanpera and Ogier Yarises will be sold, Toyota suggesting a release date and additional details will follow later in the year. Getting either in the UK seems unlikely, given models like the GRMN haven’t made it here, but then Toyota never fails to surprise at the moment. More GR Yarises of any description sounds like very good news to us.  


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