The Toyota Yaris you see here has a carbon fibre roof panel. That’s right. On a Yaris. It also has four-wheel drive and the world’s most powerful three-cylinder engine. It will hit 60mph in 5.5sec and pull to 70mph in third. It is perhaps the most appealing hot-hatch of the modern era.
For all the above you can thank Toyota’s World Rally Championship programme. The team – run by Finnish legend Tommi Mäkinen – won the 2019 drivers’ world title and is fighting to claim this year’s, with Welsh driver Elfyn Evans hoping to become the first British world champion since Richard Burns in 2001.
Mäkinen and his rally outfit was instrumental in designing this new Yaris, which was built as a homologation special for Toyota’s 2021 WRC car. The rally car has become obsolete as a result of changing regulations, but the road-going variant is anything but. Toyota describes it as a rally car for the road and after driving it on the roads of West Sussex, it is hard to disagree.