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One GR Yaris Owner Tests How Reliable Toyota's G16-GTS Turbo-Three-Cyliner Is. The Internet Goes Mad.

We know Toyota's little, turbo-three engine can dish out some serious horsepower while staying healthy, so what happened to this GR Yaris while performing a track session?

Toyota's Gazoo Racing has been giving us some of the most exciting Toyota performance cars of late. The motorsport outfit, literally, put Toyota back on enthusiasts’ radar, and the rally-bred Toyota GR Yaris was the model that started it.

Toyota fitted the GR Yaris with the G16-GTS, turbocharged, three-cylinder, which is the most powerful three-cylinder engine ever made. We have, since, seen the little turbo engine in other models such as the Toyota GR Corolla, and Toyota isn't nearly done putting the turbo-three engine in other models

We also have an idea of the G16-GTS's limits as tuners have already pushed out over 400 horsepower from the GR Yaris engine on a stock ECU, and last year, a tuner managed to churn out 740 horsepower from the little, Toyota three-cylinder. But how reliable is it?  

This proud Toyota GR Yaris owner found out the hard way that prolonged track use may not be ideal for the GR Yaris engine. Despite being a homologation special, the three-cylinder engine layout has its inherent disadvantages, which may have resulted in one of the three cylinders calling it a day. 

According to the owner, Paul,  who is an avid car enthusiast as seen in his YouTube channel, the engine exploded due to a problem in cylinder one after 50,000 km (approx. 35,000 miles). The following text is what the owner got from the Toyota rep: 

“TOYOTA WARRANTY! Concerns: Toyota Yaris GR - your request for participation in repair costs Following the engine failure of your Toyota Yaris GR, we took delivery of this vehicle, delivered by a repairer, on April 11, 2024. To follow up on your request, after observing the damage, we carried out a report which was sent to the Technical Service of Toyota Switzerland. A request for photos was made to us to analyze:  

1. The general condition of the vehicle  

2. The type and state of wear of the tires  

3. Any modifications to the vehicle  

Furthermore, a thorough reading of the electronic unit allowed them to detect, among other things, the vehicle drifting at 173 km/h and the engine overheating to 120°C. It turns out that the damage observed is due to inappropriate use of the vehicle and not intended by the manufacturer. In view of the above, we hope you understand that Toyota cannot respond to your request. For your information, after a quick estimate of the damage, it turns out that the cost of repairs far exceeds the market value of your vehicle.  

We are sorry not to be able to give you more joyful news and please accept our best regards.” 

Toyota GR Yaris is a homologatio special for rallying and its all-terrain capability proves it

This reminds me of another Toyota case from 2022, when a Toyota GR86 owner experienced a blown engine whilst driving on a track. Apparently, Toyota responded in a similar matter, claiming the vehicle was improperly used. Unlike the GR86 where this isn't an isolated issue, this is the first GR Yaris we have known to suffer from this issue. 

As expected, comments under the YouTube video are merciless towards Toyota's product, especially given the brand's reputation for great reliability. The owner doesn't share if he had done modifications to the car, but at first glance, it doesn't seem to be anywhere near the 400-horsepower mark some tuners have achieved.  

An observant viewer suggests that the engine got over-revved, resulting in the engine giving out. Others talk about the inherent disbalance of the inline-three layout, suggesting prolonged driving at the limit severely depletes the engine lifespan. That said, we have seen countless Toyota GR Yaris hooning it on track days without any mechanical issues. 

The good news is the owner has decided to rebuild the car, meaning more track days are in store for this GR Yaris. The compact hot hatchback has become more popular than even Toyota anticipated. The initial plan was to build 25,000 of the homologation-special GR Yaris, but so far, Toyota has built 32,000 units.  

About the author

Dimitar Angelov's automotive interests made him an expert in a wide variety of vehicles. Japanese brands like Toyota are closest to his heart, although performance cars in general are his favorite segment, which is why he is constantly on the lookout for the best deals on the market. Dimitar Angelov's car passion and knack for the written word led him to complete a Master of Arts in Media and Communications, and classic car restoration. Dim is happy to get behind the wheel of any car and share his impressions. You can follow Dimitar on XLinked-inInstagram, and Facebook.

Image source: Toyota GR Yaris