While the Toyota Yaris has gone through a hot-hatch metamorphosis, things used to be different. What used to be a small city car that could blend in with traffic has become a WRC inspired missile. Unfortunately, while the three-door hatch will receive the full Gazoo Racing treatment, upgrades to the Yaris Cross SUV are limited to the aesthetic department.

We know that the Japanese automaker’s racing DNA has trickled down to its road vehicles, but where did it come from? After getting so close to overall victory at the 24 Hours of LeMans in 2016 – with their lead car breaking down at the last lap – they finally put that to rest with wins in 2018, 2019, and 2020. 

Gallery: Toyota Yaris Cross by Gazoo Racing

Regardless of how they produced their victories at LeMans, Toyota has recently blown up the world of rallying with the Yaris. After a long championship drought since the likes of Carlos Sainz Sr. and his Toyota Celica, Ott Tänak won the WRC world championship in 2019 behind the wheel of a Yaris.

As the hot-hatch received one of the most powerful three-cylinder engines fitted to a road car – rated at 257 bhp (191 kilowatts) – Toyota says that the Yaris Cross wouldn’t be able to handle the grunt. While things are looking bleak at the moment, the Japanese automaker has made it clear that they want to expand the GR lineup.

“No plans that I’m aware of for a GR Yaris Cross,” said Sean Hanley, sales and marketing boss of Toyota Australia. “We’re happy to be bringing the GR Yaris to the market in the next month, but nothing that I’m aware of in terms of the Yaris Cross in that space.”