The Yaris GRMN hot hatch shows Toyota's extreme side. Jonathan Crouch takes a look...
Ever wondered what a Toyota Yaris might be like with over 200 braked horses beneath the bonnet? No, we hadn't either. But Toyota has made one anyway, this wild Yaris GRMN. It's a rather unique confection....
First of all, let's deal with that rather awkward name: 'GRMN' stands for 'Gazoo Racing Meisters of N??rburgring', Gazoo Racing being the in-house division that looks after Toyota's rally-winning Yaris World Championship Rally-winning racer. This the first GRMN model to be launched in Europe - and its being built in Europe too, at Toyota Motor Manufacturing France's Valenciennes plant. Production has been successfully integrated into the same assembly line as the standard Yaris, with each GRMN car put together by a dedicated team comprising the factory's most experienced technicians. This model's limited production - just 400 examples are being produced for European customers - should add an extra dimension of exclusivity to its appeal as a truly performance-focused car.
Forget everything you know about a Toyota Yaris: it isn't relevant here. This one packs 209bhp (yes really) and directs it to the tarmac via a Torsen differential (a feature rare among B-segment hot hatches) and a set of passive dampers supplied by Sachs. The engine is a supercharged 1.8-litre 2ZR-FE unit, built in Deeside by Toyota, then modified by Lotus and sent to the Yaris factory in Valenciennes in France for installation into this car. The car comes with a wide set of 205-section tyres that hugely broaden the turning circle.
Large, ventilated front disc brakes with four-piston callipers supplied by ADVICS provide powerful, controllable stopping performance. The steering rack has been sharpened up, but not much has been done to the suspension, which uses much the same torsion beam set-up as a regular Yaris. The exhaust though, has been fully reworked, a task that had to be achieved within very tight space limitations, and with careful attention to underbody heat management. The goals were to reduce exhaust back pressure and control emissions and noise levels, while also introducing a centre tailpipe design at the rear of the car - a feature shared with the Yaris WRC competition car. Performance is very much of the 'in your face' variety in the raucous way it's delivered. For reference, the figures see the 62mph benchmark flash by in 6.4s on the way to 143mph; in a Yaris. Whoever would have thought it....
Like its World Rally Championship counterpart, the Yaris GRMN uses the three-door version of the Yaris body shell, manufactured exclusively by Toyota Motor Manufacturing France at its Valenciennes factory. Dedicated exterior styling and performance features include a black, wing-type rear spoiler, a bespoke rear bumper design, a rear diffuser, a front grille with a dedicated honeycomb mesh and - again echoing the rally car's styling - a central oval exhaust tailpipe within a trapezoid housing. It also sports a special paint finish - white with red and black flash detailing on the bonnet and sills, directly echoing the competition livery of the Toyota Yaris WRC. There is also a contrasting black roof. Detailed touches that express the car's special character include a front lip picked out in red and distinctive black ornamentation for the LED headlights, generating extra visual impact.
Inside, there are special sports seats and an all-black premium interior colour theme, including 'Ultrasuede' upholstery and leather trim. The authentic performance details include an engine start button and a small-diameter, leather-wrapped steering wheel, sourced from the Toyota GT86 coupe and further adapted to suit the special requirements of the Yaris GRMN, including a competition-inspired centring line. Through it, you view a unique TFT display in the instrument binnacle with Toyota Gazoo Racing-inspired start-up animation, reflecting the car's special performance character.
Would you pay well over £26,000 for a Toyota Yaris? Apparently, quite a lot of people would because Toyota says that most of the UK allocation of 80 Yaris GRMN models are already accounted for. If you still want one, you'll probably have to do quite a lot of ringing around Toyota's UK dealer network to try and get yourself a build slot. Obviously, there are lots of supermini hot hatch rivals that cost substantially less - the Ford Fiesta ST and the MINI Cooper S come to mind. But none of them will feel as special or as race-ready has this wild Yaris.
The wheels are 17-inch BBS lightweight multi-spoke forged alloys which not only save weight but also provide sufficient space for larger brakes to be used. Fitted with Bridgestone Potenza RE050A 205/45R17 tyres, they also contribute to the Yaris GRMN's very precise steering feel.
If you're buying this car, you won't give two hoots about fuel economy and CO2 emissions. For reference though, you'll probably be averaging about 26mpg in regular use. The unrealistic official figures are 37.7mpg on the combined cycle and 170g/km of CO2. Good luck getting near those. The car is covered by the usual comprehensive five year/100,000 mile Toyota warranty.
There's nothing remotely sensible about this car - and that's probably why its small band of loyal buyers like it. There are lots of supermini hot hatches that on paper seem a no-brainer choice over a pricey Yaris GRMN. But on the road, none of them will feel as raw or perhaps as exciting.
This is as close as Toyota Gazoo Racing can get to bringing you a Yaris World Championship Rally car fettled for road use. More power to them.
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