The Toyota GR Yaris has taken the crown of UK Car of the Year 2021, beating much more expensive machinery.
The diminutive hot hatch has been winning plaudits from across the automotive industry for its focussed approach to performance, having been planned as the base for Toyota’s now-cancelled rally competition car.
It was voted top of the charts by 29 motoring journalists from a variety of publications. The awards see judges pick the best car in 12 categories, before voting on an overall winner from this selection.
Toyota had a successful competition, having won best performance car with the GR Yaris and best supermini with the standard Yaris. For the GR model, a 257bhp 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine was fitted along with an all-wheel-drive system.
Agustin Martin, president and managing director of Toyota GB, said: “Our sincere thanks go to the UK Car of the Year judges for giving this prestigious award to GR Yaris. This unique car perfectly expresses Toyota’s focus on the pure joys of driving and how we are drawing directly on our motorsport activities to create ever-better cars for the road.
“The unprecedented reception for GR Yaris – and for the all-new Yaris range more widely – is transforming the perception of our brand as a maker of desirable cars that are genuinely fun to drive.”
Matt Robinson, of Car Enthusiast and one of the judges of the awards, said: “The GR Yaris is not just the best performance car I’ve driven this year; it might be the best performance car I’ve driven this century.”
The award is all the more impressive given that previous winners tend to be more expensive, premium models. In 2020 the Tesla Model 3 took top honours, with the Jaguar I-Pace and Volvo XC60 winning in 2019 and 2018 respectively. The Mazda MX-5 was another car to buck the trend, winning in 2016.