Toyota has become staid and boring in the last decade and a half. Once the manufacturer that brought us the RSi, the Supra, the Celica, and the MR2, they’ve been relegated to the ranks of commuter hatch-maker, and bakkie dealer. But no more – Toyota has unveiled a genuine hot hatch! This, dear Toyota fans, is the Toyota Yaris GRMN.
No longer using the TRD badging, Toyota has opted for a fresh start, using the GRMN denomination for any future hot variants. GRMN, standing for ‘Gazoo Racing tuned by the Meister of the Nurburgring’, comes from the development team behind Toyota’s current racing exploits, including rally. The Yaris is then the perfect start for the sub-brand, as they’ve already extensively played with it to create the Yaris rally car.
Based on the latest generation, the Toyota Yaris GRMN takes aim at the heart of the small hot hatch segment, with the Polo GTI and Ford Fiesta ST squarely in its sights. The Yaris GRMN has been under development since 2015, with most development occurring on and near the Nurburgring.
Exterior upgrades to the Yaris GRMN, indicating that this is no ordinary Yaris, include 17-inch BBS alloy wheels, a central tailpipe, aggressive bumpers, and the Toyota Gazoo Racing white, red, and black competition livery. A rear spoiler, diffuser, honeycomb front grill, and headlights are all unique to the Yaris GRMN.
But it’s the changes beneath the skin that will excite Toyota fans. The Toyota Yaris GRMN features a 1.8-litre supercharged engine (the only supercharged car in its class) to develop 156kW @ 6800rpm, and 250Nm @ 5000rpm. Driving the front wheels through a 6-speed manual transmission, the Yaris GRMN completes the 0-100km/h sprint in a claimed 6.3 seconds. Top speed is electronically limited to 230km/h. Other upgrades to the engine include a front-mounted intercooler and upgraded fuel supply system using components from Toyota V6 engines. But perhaps a key figure for the Yaris GRMN is its weight – weighing just 1135kg. In addition to all the above, the Yaris GRMN has been fitted with a bespoke performance exhaust.
Aiding the handling, the Yaris GRMN is equipped with a Torsen limited slip differential. The chassis has also been stiffened and lowerd by 24mm compared to a standard Yaris. Sachs supplied dedicated sports shock absorbers. The Yaris GRMN’s braking system has also been sufficiently upgraded, with new 275m grooved front discs with 4-piston callipers, and 278mm rear discs. The 17-inch BBS alloy wheels are shod in Bridgestone Potenza RE050 205/45 R17 profile rubber.
Inside the cabin of the Yaris GRMN, you’ll find front sport seats designed by Toyota Boshoku, with increased side bolstering for support during cornering. A push-start button exists for firing up the Yaris GRMN, and the small diameter steering wheel has been lifted directly from the Toyota 86, and adapted to suit the Yaris GRMN. Aluminium sports pedals also feature, and the cabin features a high-grade TFT display.
Unfortunately, it would seem the Yaris GRMN will not be brought into South Africa, with Toyota SA citing price as the deciding factor. In Europe, the Toyota Yaris GRM costs the equivalent of R463 500 – placing it well beyond the segment average in SA. So unfortunately for Toyota aficionados, a Toyota hot hatch is once again out of our reach… unless of course you fancy a South African engineered revival of the RSi badge…