There hasn’t been a Toyota quite like the new GR Yaris since the old Celica GT-Four ST205 of the mid-’90s. It was only a matter of time before someone staged a face-off between the company’s two most recent homologation special rally monsters, and Fifth Gear has risen to the occasion.
In this short video, British touring car legend and Fifth Gear presenter Jason Plato takes both Toyotas around Castle Combe to find out how much faster the Yaris really is.
I say “how much faster” and not “which is faster” because, with 18 more horsepower, an extra gear, a curb weight about 240 pounds lighter and 25 years of technological progress in general, it was really never a question of whether the Yaris could beat the basis for what ex-FIA president Max Mosely once called the “most ingenious” cheat he’d ever seen. Victory was inevitable — the question was how bad the whooping would be.
That’s not to say the Celica isn’t quick. “You know what? It’s 20-odd years old, this, and it’s pretty good. Quite a lot of steering you need to put in, but once the car sets...this, wow” Plato trails off, as I imagine I would behind the wheel of the Sega Rally cover star on an open track.
After flogging the Celica around Castle Combe, Plato straps himself into the Yaris, which he remarks as brilliantly “sharp and pointed” before setting a lap seven whole seconds faster than he did in the older car.
The Yaris looks so much quicker on track. Of course, it is quicker, but there’s also a visual illusion to seeing modern rally cars, with their short wheelbases and stubby proportions, crush a lap compared to much larger coupes we had in the ’90s. The sheer pace still surprises.
We already knew the GR Yaris was quick — hell, it beat the Civic Type R, a car with about 40 more horsepower, in a drag race. And yet, every time this hot hatch is let loose, it somehow shatters its already-high expectations. Meanwhile, those of us on the wrong side of the Atlantic are swallowed ever deeper by the depression of knowing we can’t have one.
No, this video won’t make you feel better about that, but seeing these siblings hit the tarmac together will put a smile on your face. And maybe, just maybe, we can take a crumb of solace in the fantasy that Toyota will soon make good on its promise to bring a GR-flavored Corolla to our shores.