Yaris Tuning

"Turning the Yaris into a hot hatch. "

Yaris Tuning

Toyota aimed the Yaris at the young driver when they produced this urban compact car. The Toyota Yaris has generally targeted budget-conscious consumers and urban drivers who prioritize fuel efficiency, maneuverability, and practicality.

It has been popular among students, young professionals, and small families due to its compact size and affordable pricing.

The Toyota Yaris is a subcompact car that has been popular in various markets around the world. It has gone through multiple generations and revisions.

Generations and Revisions:

  • First Generation (1999-2005): The Yaris was introduced as a replacement for the Toyota Starlet. It featured a distinctive and compact design, and it quickly gained popularity for its fuel efficiency and practicality.
  • Second Generation (2005-2013): The Yaris underwent a redesign, featuring a more modern and rounded look. It was available in hatchback and sedan body styles. This generation also introduced a hybrid variant called the Yaris Hybrid.
  • Third Generation (2013-2020): This generation featured a more aggressive and angular design, with improvements in interior quality and technology. The Yaris continued to be available in hatchback and sedan variants.
  • Fourth Generation (2020-Present): The most recent generation of the Yaris was introduced with updated styling and technology. One significant change was the introduction of the Yaris Cross, a subcompact crossover SUV variant of the Yaris.

Unusually for such a small car it has a rather high roof line and has a very cheeky modern design.

Which Are The Best Yaris Mods?

Upgrading your car can transform its performance and handling. Let's dive into some key enhancements for a more thrilling drive.

Lower Your Car with Quality Coilovers

Consider getting a set of coilovers to lower your car by 35-40mm. This modification not only gives your car a sleeker look but also enhances its stability and handling.

Boost Cornering with Suspension Mods

Adding a rear anti-roll bar and a strut brace can significantly improve your car's cornering abilities. These upgrades make your car more agile, especially on winding roads.

Engine Modifications for More Power

The engine is where the real magic happens. Many car enthusiasts focus their efforts here.

While most Yaris models prioritize fuel efficiency, there's room for improvement.

Airflow and Exhaust Tweaks

Start with a panel filter and a sports exhaust. These changes, though small, can pave the way for more significant modifications.

Camshaft and Cylinder Head Upgrades

A fast road camshaft is a game-changer. Pair it with professional porting and gas flowing of the cylinder head. This combo can increase your power by around 15bhp.

But, be cautious with the cam profile to maintain your car's low-speed driveability.

Camshaft and Cylinder Head Upgrades with Variable Valve Timing

Enhancing your car's camshaft and cylinder head can be transformative. Let's delve deeper into these upgrades, especially considering the role of Variable Valve Timing (VVT) in modern engines.

Fast Road Camshaft - The Heart of Performance

Upgrading to a fast road camshaft is a pivotal step in boosting engine power. This modification, when combined with professional porting and gas flowing of the cylinder head, can yield an increase of about 15bhp.

Maintaining Driveability with Cam Profile

Choosing the right cam profile is crucial. It's important to strike a balance that enhances power without compromising the car's low-speed maneuverability and overall driveability.

The Impact of Variable Valve Timing

Variable Valve Timing is a game-changer in modern engines. It allows for optimal engine performance across different RPMs. By adjusting the timing of the valve opening and closing, VVT ensures that the engine operates efficiently, providing better fuel economy and increased power output.

Integrating VVT in Upgrades

When upgrading your camshaft and cylinder head, consider how it interacts with the engine's VVT system. An upgraded camshaft that works harmoniously with VVT can significantly enhance engine performance. This integration can lead to more precise control over valve timings, resulting in improved throttle response and even greater power gains.

Custom Tuning for VVT Systems

Custom tuning is often required to make the most of VVT systems in conjunction with upgraded camshafts. This ensures that the engine management system is fully optimized to take advantage of the new hardware.

Supercharging for Maximum Power

For a substantial power boost, consider a supercharger kit. Superchargers are simpler to set up than turbochargers.

A modest boost setting can increase your power by 30-40%. Remember, such a major power hike requires upgraded fuel injectors and pumps for smooth operation.

Don't Forget About Braking

Brakes are crucial, especially with increased power. Upgrading to larger discs and high-friction pads will drastically improve your stopping power. This not only ensures safety but can also lead to faster lap times.

Inspiration from the GR Yaris.

The notable GR Yaris shows what can be achieved with deep pockets and a little imagination, but do bear in mind the upgrades and revisions to the GR are very extensive and not really a bolt on upgrade, more of a re-imagining of the platform.

The Toyota GR Yaris is a high-performance variant of the Toyota Yaris, developed by Toyota Gazoo Racing (hence the "GR" designation), the motorsport and performance division of Toyota. It is designed to be a performance-oriented and enthusiast-focused version of the regular Yaris hatchback.

Key features of the Toyota GR Yaris include:

GR Engine & Drivetrain

One of the standout features of the GR Yaris is its powerful engine. It is equipped with a turbocharged three-cylinder engine that delivers impressive performance.

In some markets, the engine is a 1.6-liter turbocharged inline-three that produces significant horsepower and torque, making the car very agile and quick.

Unlike many other small hot hatches, the GR Yaris features a sophisticated all-wheel-drive system.

This AWD setup provides enhanced traction and handling, contributing to the car's dynamic driving characteristics and allowing it to perform well on various road surfaces.

Lightweight Construction:

The GR Yaris incorporates lightweight materials and construction techniques to improve its performance and handling.

This includes the use of lightweight body panels and a specially designed platform that enhances rigidity and reduces weight.

Performance Tuning:

The suspension, chassis, and brakes of the GR Yaris are tuned for high-performance driving. This results in sharp and responsive handling, making it well-suited for driving enthusiasts and track use.

Rally-Inspired Design:

The design of the GR Yaris is influenced by Toyota's rally cars, giving it a distinctive and aggressive appearance. It often features flared wheel arches, a wide stance, and other sporty design elements.

The Toyota GR Yaris is often considered a homologation model, which means it was designed and produced to meet certain motorsport regulations while also being available for road use. It's worth noting that the availability of the GR Yaris may vary depending on the market, and it's generally produced in limited numbers, adding to its exclusivity and appeal among performance car enthusiasts.

Now if you want a fun Yaris you should really ignore the 1.0 and 1.3 engines.

The 1.5 interestingly came in a turbo form (engine code 1NZ-FE I4) although there were some internal differences in the engines it shows that the block can handle a lot more power than the 1.5 NA (naturally aspirated) engine puts out.

Tuning tips and articles

Engine tuning Transmission tuning Care care Intake & exhaust mods Improve handling Forums

Many owners complained about the handling, with excessive body roll and lack of lateral grip being the main complaints.

This was addressed to a large degree in the sporty 1.5 model but even this can be improved further with some suspension mods and careful choice of tyre selection.

The Toyota Yaris is the funky fun new car and has loads of potential for making a cheap track day car.

Get a set of coil overs and drop the car no more than 35-40mm. A rear anti roll bar and strut brace will help improve the cornering abilities of this little rocket.

Now we shall turn our attention to the engine, which is where most Torque Cars members spend their time and money.

Most of the Yaris models were built for economy and every facet of the engine was built with this in mind. Adding just a panel filter and sports exhaust will do little to provide a noticeable power increase.


Ideally you should get a fast road cam and pay attention to the head. A professional porting and gas flowed head will pay dividends when it comes to power. We are still only talking about a relatively modest increase of power in the order of around 15bhp.

A fast road cam will also lift the power when combined with other modifications. Don't get a very aggressive profile as this will affect the tick over and ruin the round town flexibility of the car.

For the ultimate power hike TorqueCars recommend a supercharger kit. These are easier to setup than a turbo and if set to low boost will give power gains in the order of 30-40%.

A major power hike like this will need to be backed up with better fuel delivery so expect to uprate the injectors and fuel pump to keep things running smoothly.

Yaris Tuning

Braking modifications should also be quite high up in your Yaris tuning project. Bigger disks and higher friction pads will really improve the stopping and we have noted faster lap times in the Yaris with better brakes! Never overlook the importance of stopping the car.

The MK2 Yaris has now hit the roads and is an improvement on the original. The styling is a little more edgy and modern and both power and economy have been improved. Thankfully our tuning tips still stand on the Mk2.

In any case we would recommend ignoring the 1.0 Yaris as a viable project, and focus your attention on the larger engined 1.3, 1.5, 1.6 and the 1.8 models. The larger your starting point the greater the power gain.

Power mods.

This list of the stages and modified upgrades are usually carried out by our members, decide how far you want to go before you get going.

Getting the right modified upgrades for your planned usage of the car is a time and money saver. Stage 3 competition upgrades just won't work well on the road difficult in stop start traffic.

Please watch our video which covers the 5 principles of tuning your car. Be sure to keep up with our latest YouTube content and subscribe.

Best Engine Mods for your car

  1. Engine Tunes - engine tuning/remapping provides the most advantage in terms of cost savings,  aftermarket ECUs, and piggyback ECUs are all alternatives.
  2. Fast road cams (for Pre VVT engines) are one of the most significant mechanical changes, but they must be installed by someone who knows what they're doing and they are not always easy to source but you might find a local firm to regrind a stock camshaft.
  3. Intake and Exhaust - Note that on their own these mods will NOT ADD POWER in most cases, but they can help enhance power after other mods by removing the restriction.
  4. Upgrades to turbochargers and superchargers - forced induction is the most efficient approach to increase air supply, allowing you to burn more fuel and make more power. It is one of the most costly upgrades but provides the best gains.
  5. Head work - The goals of porting and flowing the head are to get air flowing into the engine while removing flow restrictions and turbulence.

Typical stage 1 mods often include: Remap, Alloy wheels, Panel air filter, Lighter flywheel, Suspension upgrade (drop 28mm - 39 mm.), Sports exhaust.

Typical stage 2 mods often include: fuel pump upgrades, Power/Sport clutch, Fast road cam, high flow fuel injector, Ported and polished head.

Typical stage 3 mods often include: Internal engine upgrades (pistons/head/valves), Competition cam, Adding or upgrading forced induction (turbo/supercharger), Sports gearbox, Engine balancing.

Peak power is nice in motorsport but for a daily driven car you need a long torque band and perhaps extending the rev range.

The point of our guides is to give a starting base of car tuning performance parts and point you in the right direction, our forum is best place to go if you need more detailed advice and tips on your car tuning project, the best sport parts and all aspects of modding cars.One of the best mechanical motorsport modifications you can do to your NA (naturally aspirated) engine is to fit a fast road camshaft .

The exhaust & intake flow play a big role in your cars power band, but be careful here, getting this wrong can upset the idle and make the car difficult to drive in traffic. You'd need to follow a camshaft upgrade with other mods and finish with a tune/remap to fully realise your gains.

Don't forget to uprate the fuelling when you are increasing the power - it makes the car more thirsty.

Using high octane petrol is another option if you find you are suffering from detonation or premature ignition on your Toyota project after fitting other kits. Uprated injectors will enable you to supply sufficient fuel to the engine.

A fuel pump will only deliver a finite amount of fuel, so you may need to uprate this if your injectors are demanding more fuel.

Intake and Exhaust Tuning.

The next area for modification is the intake and exhaust. 

The ultimate power gains come from turbo kits and supercharger kits. When set to low boost levels you can use the standard internals and retain the cars ride quality and to a degree the economy.

Discuss advanced tuning mods in our forum with our friendly members and browse our tuning articles which will give you a good overview of where you can go with your project.

 Air induction kits only help to increase power if the cars air intake is struggling!

Adding an induction kit to most small engines will see NO LOW END POWER GAIN AT ALL. If you have heavily modified your engine and it's need for air INCREASES DRAMATICALLY then an induction kit is the answer and will help remove this restriction.

For most Yaris engines TorqueCars would suggest you just go with a washable panel air filter. On heavily tuned engines and turbo vehicles an induction kit will help release the power providing you address the problem of supplying cold air.

Do not go with the widest exhaust you can buy this will slow up the exhaust flow rate - the best for power gains are usually between 1.5 to 2.5 inches. It is the shape and material more than the bore size.

Getting a professionally polished and ported head with larger valves can fully release the engines power. When you tune up your Yaris you will reach a point that the standard clutch starts to suffer so get an uprated clutch. The best mods that we recommend for your Yaris are Remapping or piggy back ecu, fast road cam and air intake and exhaust.

NA (naturally aspirated) engines do not achieve big power gains if you tune/remap them, unless you have done extensive modifications. With turbocharged engines this is another story. A tuned/remapped turbo will give phenomenal power gains and take full advantage of the strength of the block.

We've also seen some tuners toying with twincharged conversions and making some impressively high power hikes.

The most impressive power gains for NA (naturally aspirated) engines usually involve the addition of forced induction. It is generally simpler to add a supercharger than it is to fit a working turbo. It is difficult to map fuelling with a turbo as the boost comes on exponentially with engine speed.

It is easier to map a supercharger because the boost is correlating to engine speed on a linear curve. Decreasing the engines compression ratio will allow you to add forced induction, water injection may also help prevent detonation.

Alloy wheel upgrades.

The benefits of alloys include a lower unsprung weight and more efficient brake cooling.

Don't forget that your choice of rubber greatly affects your cars grip and handling.

It is not worth compromising performance with cheap tyres when you can buy directional tread pattern performance tires.Large Yaris alloy wheels can decrease performance. If you get big alloy wheels you will be changing your final drive ratio.

Although some people have with bigger wheels we would stick to a 16 inch rim size as the maximum.

If you would like to know more, or just get some friendly advice on Tuning your car please join us in our friendly forum where you can discuss Yaris options in more detail with our Yaris owners. It would also be worth reading our unbiased Toyota tuning articles to get a full grasp of the benefits and drawbacks of each modification.

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