TOKYO – Glancing over its basic credentials it quickly becomes clear that Toyota’s new GR Yaris is not just another hot hatch – in fact it’s quite possibly an icon in the making.

Developed in conjunction with Toyota’s Gazoo racing division and its World Rally partner Tommi Mäkinen Racing, the GR Yaris is a homologation model for the next Yaris WRC car. With lightweight components and all-wheel-drive, this is the closest you’re going to get to a rally car for the road, and it’s also got enough power to run with the big boys of the performance hatch world.

At the heart of the new GR Yaris is a brand new 1.6-litre three-cylinder turbopetrol engine that produces 192kW and 360Nm. Paired with a six-speed manual gearbox, the advanced engine features multi-oil jet piston cooling and a part-machined intake port.

Against the clock, the GR Yaris needs just 5.5 seconds to sprint from zero to 100km/h, according to factory claims, while the top speed is electronically limited to 230km/h.

An instrumental factor here is its relatively low kerb weight of 1280kg, achieved through the use of lightweight materials. The bonnet, doors and tailgate, for instance, are made from aluminium while the roof panel uses a new type of carbon fibre polymer that can be compression moulded.