Who of the Mini JCW GP or the Toyota GR Yaris is the best sports car at the moment? Difficult to determine as they are opposed on many points. But precisely, there is therefore a lot to say about them! We tried to decide between them in the south of France, on the roads of the Pyrenees, as well as on the famous Pau Arnos circuit. It’ll smell like burnt gum!
These are the two most extreme little sports cars of the moment. The two best in their class, without hesitation! Mini John Cooper Works Grand Prix vs. Toyota Yaris Gazoo Racing … It has been a long time since manufacturers had given up so much to develop small buggies that are as pleasant to drive as they are to watch.
Two very different styles, almost caricatures as they soak up personality. Two philosophies too: the Mini JCW GP is the heart of BMW on a radical chassis. A 4-cylinder 2.0-liter turbo with 306 hp, delivering all its power to the front wheels only.
The Toyota GR Yaris is more like a rally car approved for the road. And we hardly exaggerate, with its 3-cylinder 1.6 liter turbo of 261hp coupled to its 4-wheel drive transmission.
Each in their own way has absolutely no competitor. We must realize that we are in the city car segment. Usually, this power level is reserved for upper segment models such as the Renault Mégane RS and the VW Golf R in particular. Indeed, they are both contained under 4 meters. Surprisingly, the Yaris (3.995 m) is even 12 cm taller than the Mini (3.87 m).
First ratio to consider: the Mini is both more powerful and lighter than the GR Yaris (1,255 kg vs 1,280 kg). In this category, it is the only Premium on the market, it has a real crazy mechanic and the look side is not sexier!
Faced with a classic JCW, the body height is lowered by 10 mm and the tracks are widened with a carbon body kit. Under the hood, the mechanics are boosted by a new turbo. While the braking system and rigidity are reinforced.
On board, we are witnessing maximum weight reduction. Removal of the bench, auto air conditioning and even the rear wiper. All for 44,900 euros excluding penalty (184g / km of CO2 = 9,103 euros). This is the price of exclusivity for this limited edition of 3,000 copies, of which only 99 are for France.
But beware because opposite, the Yaris is not to be outdone. In fact, from the classic Yaris this GR only keeps the name, the optics, the mirrors and the roof antenna: two fewer doors, frameless windows, a roof lowered by 91 mm and a fully inflated body kit to accommodate a larger engine.
She also relies on a big relief : roof in carbon fiber reinforced plastic (-3.5 kg), hood, doors and tailgate in aluminum (-24 kg) and rear bumper in composite plastic: (-38% by weight)!
Finally, on board, two beautiful bucket seats and a real hand brake appear. All for a base price of 35,600 euros in a Premium pack and 37,600 euros for our test model equipped with the Track Pack (still excluding penalty: 186g / km of CO2 = 7,851 euros). The first point therefore goes to the GR Yaris, a little less exclusive but much less expensive.
On the road
From the first turns of the wheels, the GR Yaris is very surprising. The driving position is a little too high but the suspension comfort is exceptional for a sporty model. The sound of the small 3 cylinders shows itself very catchy, even if the amplification via the speakers seems superfluous to us. But at least it’s not too contrived. A good point.
On the other hand, the engine lacks a little breath at low revs. The 3 legs are not very flexible and you must avoid falling below 3,000 rpm to benefit from the help of the turbo. In fact, the mechanics need to be a little whipped to reveal its real potential. It’s almost an old-fashioned sportswoman!
On the contrary, we find an excellent driving position on board the Mini. But the comfort is appalling! It jumps, it shakes, it even bounces sometimes. Fortunately, the seats compensate a little for the firmness of the chassis. But ultimately, the most amazing thing is that you quickly get used to this philosophy.
We also like the automatic gearbox. Very pleasant and relaxing for everyday driving. Above all, it allows you to focus on the direction. Because on the attack, there is work! Under the hood hides a volcanic core, which the mechanical locking differential effectively controls, in return for violent torque rises in the steering. It works really hard, it sings well too, but what a bully!
On track !
At this stage, a first observation can be observed: we are dealing with two GTIs as we no longer do! And for good reason, it is necessary to assume to drive these two machines on a daily basis. To appreciate them as it should be, we took them to the Pau Arnos circuit. A technical and hilly 3 km route, a beautiful straight line… Perfect for opposing these two models designed for this type of terrain.
First exercise: 400m standing start! The rainy weather conditions are in favor of the GR Yaris, with its 4-wheel drive. And indeed, although it is announced slower at 0 to 100 km / h (5.5 s against 5.2 s) it starts up faster.
At the wheel of the Mini, you have to channel the ardor of the 4-cylinder 306 hp, but the power goes surprisingly well on the ground all the same. So much so that it quickly recovers its delay to ultimately win by securing the best time!
First curve at the wheel of the Yaris: what efficiency and what ease! We have the feeling that we could have passed twice as fast! The engine does not put too much weight on the front axle, which benefits precision and handling. It’s perfectly balanced and there is no understeer.
The particular timbre of the 3 cylinder is partly covered by the intake and exhaust, but it sounds good. Again, a bit old-fashioned. The mechanical character is amazing with its raging revs flirting with 7,400 tr / min. And it’s really rewarding to handle a good mechanical gearbox standby, with short travel and precise locks.
In Track version, this GR benefits from a limited slip differential on each axle to optimize traction. In practice, it is ultra efficient when exiting a curve. It never skates! On the other hand, it is difficult to perceive nuances between the different driving modes. Indeed, a selector makes it possible to vary the distribution of the torque between the front axle and the rear axle: in Normal mode, 60% of the torque is distributed to the front wheels. In Sport mode, 70% of the torque is sent to the rear to facilitate drift in turns. And finally in Track mode, the distribution is 50-50 for optimal efficiency. On track, this à la carte piloting is not immediately obvious. Maybe it would be different on a dirt track. Still, if we play with the load transfers when arriving on the brakes at the entry of a curve, we still have a lot of fun!
On board the Mini GP, it’s a different lemonade. With its 4 wheels positioned at the ends of the body and its short wheelbase, the Mini has always been a very responsive car in terms of handling. With the GP, it’s an understatement … The chassis is so rigid that it turns instantly as soon as you touch the steering wheel. We fight with it, we feel very involved in the driving. In fact, we constantly have the feeling of having poured liters of red bull into the tank as she always seems overexcited.
Once again, what a breath, what a mechanical temperament! It is better to never let go of the hoop to contain the violent upsurges of torque in the steering. The tachometer needle rises lower (up to 6,200 tr / min), but it is sufficient. It is often even preferable to shift a gear when exiting a corner to take advantage of the enormous maximum torque of 450 Nm.
The mechanical self-locking does its job admirably. And finally, we realize that this GP will offer as much pleasure to those who will take care of their trajectories with precise piloting (in this case, it is literally welded with bitumen) to those who abuse her with more dynamic driving. She asks only that and then shows herself to be a good player. No doubt, you don’t need 4-wheel drive to have fun!
Source: Turbo.fr – L'info en continu by www.turbo.fr.
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