Northern Group Car of the Year 2021: Toyota GR Yaris

Toyota has scored its first ever Northern Group of Motoring Writers Car of the Year award, with the GR Yaris coming top in a member vote.

Although it bears the Yaris name, the GR Yaris is — quite literally — a different animal altogether from its humble hatchback sibling.

The “GR” in the name refers to Gazoo Racing, Toyota’s official motorsports arm. Gazoo Racing runs the Le Mans and World Rally Championship squads, and created the car as the basis of a new rally car.

That resulted in this three-door model, with a rear end from the Toyota C-HR small SUV allowing for standard all-wheel drive, and a roof cut down by 3.5 inches. There’s also a 257hp, turbocharged three-cylinder engine for this homologated road car.

The GR Yaris won the NGMW’s preliminary voting in the “Fun” category, joining the Cupra Formentor, Ford Mustang Mach-E, Hyundai i20, Rolls-Royce Ghost, and 2005 COTY Skoda Octavia as class winners. Group members clearly valued fun above all, as it also secured enough votes to be declared overall winner.

In our traditional ceremony, the Group’s members attending SMMT Test Day North presented the winning manufacturer with the trophy: the “Arthur” miner’s lamp, named for the famous Yorkshire miner Arthur Scargill.

Group chairman Andy Harris and general secretary Alan Domville were on hand to give Toyota GB’s senior PR manager James Clark the Arthur and a celebratory bottle of Taittinger.

An overjoyed Clark commented:

Our rally-derived Yaris has really put the Gazoo Racing name on the map in the UK and I know our colleagues at Gazoo Racing in Japan and at our European race HQ in Cologne will be just as delighted with this award!

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