What is it?
This is, probably, the Toyota GR Yaris of your dreams: a stripped-out competition version of the hot hatch of the moment, with rally-spec suspension and gravel or dirt tyres, plus some driveline tweaks but no uplift in power or complexity, so it’s still very approachable.
The Toyota Gazoo Racing Iberian Cup is a joint venture between Toyota Spain, the Madrid-based Motor and Sport Institute (MSi) and Caetano, Portugal’s long-time Toyota importer. It costs around 65,000 euros before taxes and this year will form the basis of a single-make championship consisting of nine mostly gravel rallies dotted around the Iberian peninsula. The 2023 and ‘24 seasons are also already confirmed.
MSi has been responsible for developing the car. They’ve made some obvious changes to the road-legal GR Yaris (shell-seats, roll-cage, fire-retardant, interior stripped almost bare) but also some more clandestine ones. Whereas the regular GR Yaris with Circuit Pack uses Torsen differentials on both axles, the Cup car uses plated mechanical LSD supplied by Cusco, a Japanese third-party, and the clutch is reinforced. The regular GR Yaris with Circuit Pack uses Torsen differentials on both axles, but this car uses a plated mechanical limited-slip differential supplied by Cusco, and the clutch is reinforced. The suspension layout remains but is now controlled by remote-reservoir Technoshock coilovers.
There’s also some extra bracing between the front struts and we noticed some fancy drop-links, though the brakes appeared to be shared with the road car and must therefore sit very snugly within the rally car’s 15in dirt-spec wheels (the asphalt wheels are larger). The high-profile tyres are by Michelin.
Elsewhere you get sump guards, a roof air intake, more powerful headlights and an exhaust that retains the catalyser but gets more of that hollow, WRC-lite yowl out of the GR Yaris’s unaltered turbo three-pot, which is nice. The door mirrors are carbonfibre, the front wings are aluminium (presumably so they can easily be bent back into shape) and chunky red mudflaps give off Tommi Mäkinen vibes.
We borrowed the car of MSi development driver and double Spanish rally champion Pepe López, and we had a short dirt circuit to play on at the part-test track, part-mountain getaway of the current Dakar champion Nasser Al-Attiyah.