Is The Race Track The testing Ground For Transmission?
News has reached us that Toyota are continuing a trend of using their race cars to test the practicalities of changes to transmission to future road cars.
To some extent, there is nothing new here – many brands have built race cars and then used elements for the scaled-back road-going versions.
However, the level of Toyota’s ambition is still unusual.
In the little known Gazoo Rally Racing Challenge in Japan – certainly little-known in the UK, in any case, they snuck in a debut for an eight-speed automatic GR Yaris.
The Yaris is the hottest of hatches and it makes a great little rally car – it reminds us somewhat of the Metro 6R4 rally cars from years past. And what a car they were!
Details of this new Yaris are sketchy and alas we didn’t make it out to Japan to see this car in action. However, reports suggest that there are some alterations to the front grille to allow for greater airflow.
The gearbox, autoexpress states, has also been refined to create shifts that are fast and smooth but do not impact efficiency. This could certainly be a takeaway for any road-going version, as quick smooth changes that still don’t hamper fuel economy are of course to be sought after.
Styling naturally has been altered for a racier trim, but those adjustments probably won’t make it onto your local A-road.
There is an automatic transmission selector and also paddle shifters on the steering wheel.
It is also interesting to note that Toyota has a GR Corolla in development and so any transmission upgrades they make on the Yaris could be ported across.
The GR Yaris is, of course, a beast of a supermini, with performance that eclipses that of rivals such as the Fiesta GT and Polo GTI – the most powerful option produces some 257 bhp and can reach 62mph in just 5.5 seconds.
The current road version isn’t far off a rally car already!
In reality, what Toyota does to the GR Yaris won’t hugely impact the UK car-buying market – it is one car in one category.
What is of more interest is the ongoing flux between automatic and manual and how manufacturers are looking to test theories and developments without committing to huge production runs. Instead, look out for changes made to cars for racing events and car shows, even niche ones.
Developing these cars for racing could also be part of the battle to win over the hearts and minds of buyers – perhaps it is easier to encourage people to switch to automatics if they can demonstrate that the vehicle is a race winner. Any fears over lack of performance or responsiveness out to bed through a nice trophy cabinet.
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