Toyota GR Yaris Named 2021 UK Car Of The Year

The tiny Toyota also came up on top in the Best Performance category of this award. 

Toyota and its newly launched Yaris seems to have gone down a storm over in Europe. That is because not only has this humble hatchback clinched the title of the European Car of the Year in 2021, its GR performance derivative has recently too been crowned the 2021 UK Car of the Year (UK-COTY). 

Having already been clinched the top prize for the Best Performance category in this award last week, the GR Yaris was automatically in the running for the overall top prize. Competition for this prestigious title however was stiff, as this pint-sized performance car faced off against other similarly stellar competitors such as the new Mercedes S-Class, Land Rover Defender, Volkswagen ID.3 and even its own hum-drum hybrid counterpart, which was incidentally named Best Supermini in this contest. 

Nevertheless, the 29 UK-based motoring journalists that comprises the UK-COTY judging panel eventually (narrowly) voted the GR Yaris to be worthy of receiving the top honours of this award. Echoing praise for its homologation heritage, performance potential and most importantly, its fun driving characteristics. 

To hear UK-COTY Director John Challen say it, the GR Yaris ‘exudes the same sort of emotions found in the original breed of hot hatches, with a modern-day twist thanks to advances in automotive technology’. “The most fun I’ve had behind the wheel of a car for many, many years,” he added. 

Interestingly too, the GR Yaris is the first petrol-powered car to win the UK-COTY award in some time. In fact, the prior two winners of this top prize before this rally-bred Toyota went to the all-electric Jaguar I-Pace in 2019, then to the equally EV Tesla Model 3 last year. 

For those still unfamiliar with this particular performance Toyota, the GR Yaris was homologation special of its WRC-spec rally car. Featuring a 1.6 litre turbocharged three-cylinder that makes over 260 PS, a six speed manual transmission, four wheel drive, and a host of other performance enhancements, a total of 127 units of these hot hatches are slated to arrive over here in Malaysia priced at RM 299,000 a pop. All of which has been sold out in just over a month since the order books were opened. 

PRESS RELEASE: In perhaps its most remarkable award-winning achievement yet, the Toyota GR Yaris has been named the 2021 UK Car of the Year (UK-COTY).

The result reveals the level of love for a car that sits well outside the mainstream: an out-and-out performance hatchback designed and engineered with a focus on the pure joy of driving.

Announcing the result, UK-COTY Director John Challen said: “The GR Yaris exudes the same sort of emotions found in the original breed of hot hatches, with a modern-day twist thanks to advances in automotive technology. The most fun I’ve had behind the wheel of a car for many, many years.”

GR Yaris qualified for consideration having last week won the UK-COTY Best Performance title. In progressing to the top honour, it edged out the Toyota Yaris Hybrid hatchback, the all-new model having been named Best Supermini.

Agustín Martín, Toyota (GB) President and Managing Director, commented: “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.”

The annual UK-COTY awards are judged by a group of 29 top motoring journalists from across the country, with winners in 12 categories going forward for consideration for the overall car of the year title.

Joshua Chin

Automotive journalist. Professional work on and Personal writing found at Instagram: @driveeveryday

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