THE Toyota GR Yaris has fought off challenges from Land Rover’s Defender, the Ford Puma and Volkswagen’s electric ID.3 to claim the title of UK Car of the Year 2021.
Bucking the trend of EVs taking top spot – the previous two UKCOTY winners were the Tesla Model 3 and the Jaguar I-PACE – the GR Yaris has a rally-bred petrol engine.
It was heralded as the Best Performance car last week when the 12 category winners were announced and after those results, it went head-to-head with the other 11 finalists for the overall honour.
The result certainly reveals the level of love for a car that sits well outside the mainstream with performance figures of 0-62 in 5.5 seconds and 143mph top speed from its 257bhp 1.6-litre three-cylinder powerplant.
John Challen, director of the UK Car of the Year Awards, said: “The GR exudes the same sort of emotions found in the original breed of hot hatches, with a modern-day twist thanks to advances in automotive technology. The most fun I’ve had behind the wheel of a car for many years.
“Such was the strength in depth of the 12 cars in the overall category, that with just four votes remaining, five cars were still in the running.
“This fact shows that vehicle manufacturers are creating truly impressive, desirable and focused products for their customers.”
The standard GR Yaris version costs from £29,995 and has four-wheel-drive, 18-inch alloy wheels, LED lights, dual-zone climate control and a multimedia set-up with smartphone integration and eight-inch touchscreen.
Adding a special circuit pack hikes the tab to £33,499 and brings in forged alloys with high performance tyres, retuned suspension, front and rear limited-slip differentials and red brake callipers.
There’s also a convenience pack including a JBL premium audio system, sat nav, parking sensors, blind spot monitor, rear-cross traffic alert and a head-up display. That takes the price to £32,175.
Fuel economy is pretty impressive too for a car with this performance, returning an official 34.3 miles per gallon.