Some rally cars leave an overriding impression on you – whether it’s the way they look, the way they sound or simply the way they perform. The Toyota Yaris WRC manages all three.
Has there ever been a rally car with a more aggressive rear wing than the Yaris’ epic construction? It’s all anyone could talk about at the dawn of the 2017 World Rally Championship season when it was introduced, and although rivals have tried to catch up since, nobody has been able to match it for sheer stance.
Then there’s the noise. As anyone who’s been lucky enough to have seen it in action over the last five years will attest, the distinctive bark as it upshifts away from you is mesmerizing.
The performance? Put it this way, since its inception in 2017 to the final rally in 2021, the Yaris WRC won as many rounds of the WRC as Hyundai’s i20 Coupe WRC and Ford’s Fiesta WRC combined – and half of the 10 drivers’ and manufacturers’ titles available too.
Of the wildest generation in the World Rally Car era but rally cars in general that the WRC has ever seen, the Yaris was – clearly – the one. It therefore comes as no surprise that you voted for it as your fifth favorite World Rally Car in our recent poll.
Toyota Yaris WRC key stats:
|Drivers’ titles||3 (2019, 2020, 2021)|
|Manufacturers’ titles||2 (2018, 2021)|
Toyota was no stranger to the WRC when it entered with the Yaris in 2017, but it had been some 18 years since it last competed back in 1999 with Carlos Sainz, Didier Auriol and the Corolla WRC.
It bowed out with the manufacturers’ title but was beaten to the drivers’ crown by Mitsubishi’s Tommi Mäkinen. It was a touch ironic then that Mäkinen was the one chosen to spearhead Toyota’s return to the WRC.
Initially the Yaris was to be developed in-house by Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG) in Germany but soon the project was moved over to Mäkinen’s base in Puuppola, Finland.
Juho Hänninen joined Mäkinen in testing the car – the 2011 IRC Champion also getting the nod to drive the Yaris in competition in 2017. He was joined by fellow Finns Jari-Matti Latvala – pinched when Volkswagen suddenly pulled out – and Esapekka Lappi for the inaugural season.
To begin with Toyota ran as a two-car effort with Lappi joining from Rally Italy onwards, and the team wasn’t expecting any big results. Latvala rather tore up the team’s own script then when he was second in Monte Carlo and Rally Sweden to lead the championship.
Both titles were ultimately claimed by M-Sport Ford, but it wouldn’t be long before the trophy had Toyota’s name on it. Signing Ott Tänak in place of Hänninen proved to be a masterstroke as he helped Toyota win the manufacturers crown and took the battle for the drivers’ championship down to the final round.
He’d duly become the first Toyota driver to win that prize (and first in the World Rally Car era) since Auriol in 1994 in 2019 and while he left for Hyundai the following season, Toyota’s new recruits Sébastien Ogier and Elfyn Evans both battled for the title in 2020 and ’21 with Ogier sealing both.
The 2021 season was a significant one in the Yaris’ history as it scored its first – and ultimately only – title double as the team also won the manufacturers’ crown with Latvala now at the helm as team principal.
It may not have been either, as Toyota was supposed to compete with a GR Yaris in 2021 instead of the Yaris it had used since 2017 but it was mothballed as a knock-on effect of the coronavirus pandemic. The GR Yaris shape will instead be debuted in 2022 with the new Rally1 machine.
It feels poignant that history went that way. It’s never been so cool to own a Yaris, and that’s all down to the work of Latvala, Lappi, Tänak, Kris Meeke, Ogier, Evans, Kalle Rovanperä and co.
Check out the rest of the confirmed results from DirtFish’s World Rally Car poll below, and keep your eyes peeled for the fourth placed reveal on Sunday.
|Pos||Car||No. of votes||% of votes|
|5||Toyota Yaris WRC||251||4.3|
|6||Subaru Impreza S12 WRC||250||4.3|
|7||Toyota Corolla WRC||227||3.9|
|8||Peugeot 206 WRC||209||3.6|
|9||Ford Escort WRC||199||3.4|
|10||Ford Focus RS WRC ’99-‘02||182||3.1|
|11||Ford Focus RS WRC ’03-‘05||174||3.0|
|12||Peugeot 307 WRC||172||3.0|
|13||Subaru Impreza S7-S8 WRC||159||2.7|
|14||Subaru Impreza S9-S11 WRC||148||2.5|
|15||Citroën Xsara WRC||135||2.3|
|16||Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC||118||2.0|
|17||Seat Córdoba WRC||108||1.9|
|18||Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution WRC||98||1.7|
|19||Ford Focus WRC ’06-‘09||92||1.6|
|20||Škoda Fabia WRC||75||1.3|
|21||Citroën C4 WRC||60||1.0|
|22||Citroën DS3 WRC||52||0.9|
|23||Mitsubishi Lancer WRC||44||0.8|
|24||Mini John Cooper Works WRC||39||0.7|
|25||Ford Fiesta RS WRC||33||0.6|
|26=||Hyundai Accent WRC||29||0.5|
|26=||Suzuki SX4 WRC||29||0.5|
|28||Citroën C3 WRC||25||0.4|
|29||Subaru Impreza S14 WRC||21||0.4|
|30||Hyundai NG i20 WRC||7||0.1|
|31||Hyundai i20 WRC||5||0.1|