This is about as far away from ‘Mum’s Taxi’ as you can get – Toyota’s brilliant 2017 World Rally Championship (WRC) contender the Yaris WRC. Just check-out the ‘tough-as’ driver’s exterior mirror and the massive rear wing.
While the all-conquering Volkswagen Polo WRC team has been axed – to assist funding for the multi-billion dollar ‘dieselgate’ fiasco – Toyota and Citroen are both rejoining the WRC in 2017 to take-on rival factory team Hyundai (i20s) and the privately-funded M-Sport Ford outfit (Fiesta).
Regulations change for next year with the WRC machines feature more mechanical and aerodynamic grip as well as more differentials.
The all-wheel-drive Toyota Yaris WRC packs a 284kW/450Nm punch from its turbocharged 1.6-litre engine.
Toyota’s driving lineup is all-Finnish – Jari-Matti Latvala (who defected from the defunct Volkswagen team) and Juho Hänninen (who undertook most of the team’s developmental test driving).
Toyota fans have been waiting for 17 years for the Japanese giant to return to the WRC where previous successes have been achieved by Corolla and Celica models.
“I started my rally career in a Toyota Corolla GT back in 2001,” Latvala explained. “My first competitive outing in a World Rally Car was behind the wheel of a Corolla WRC in 2003 in Estonia.”
The 2017 WRC kicks-off in snow on 19 January at the Monte Carlo rally.