There’s something about homologation specials that just feels so right – and Toyota’s have improved a lot over the last 20 years.
To prove the point, Fifth Gear’s Jason Plato took the Toyota GR Yaris out on track against the Celica GT-Four ST205. Built from 1994-1999, the ST205 was the most powerful Celica up to that point.
Made to homologate Toyota’s entry into the World Rally Championship, the ST205 used a 2.0-liter four that made 239 hp and could get all the way up to 152 mph. Its most famous bit, though, as Plato alludes to in the video, is its turbo.
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Or, rather, the race cars’ turbo, which one of the finest pieces of motorsport cheating ever devised. But don’t take my word for it, take Max Mosley, president of the FIA at the time’s word for it.
“It is the most sophisticated and ingenious device either I or the FIA’s technical experts have seen for a long time,” he said. “It was so well made that there was no gap apparent to suggest there was any means of opening it.”
Essentially, Toyota defeated a restrictor device designed to keep air out of the turbocharger. This had the impact of allowing an extra 25% more air into the turbos which allowed 50 more horses to come out of the engine.
But it was also a very well made car, with a very sophisticated suspension for the day. Even today, Plato reports that the handling is excellent. The Celica is a reminder that the ‘90s were a sweet spot for both Toyota and the car industry.
Despite that, it can’t keep up with the brand’s latest homologation special – even if Toyota eventually decided to run an improved version of last year’s car in the 2021 season.
The GR Yaris makes 268 hp from a 1.6-liter engine. Although that’s not an enormous amount more than the Celica’s 239, it is enough to get it to 60 mph more than half a second quicker.
Its advantage is much more apparent on the track. In Fifth Gear testing, the Yaris is seven whole seconds faster than the Celica. Goes to show how much progress has been done in the last 20 years.