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RE: Toyota Yaris GRMN: Driven

RE: Toyota Yaris GRMN: Driven

Monday 17th July

Toyota Yaris GRMN: Driven

Could this be the return of 'Win on Sunday, sell on Monday'?



The little Yaris GRMN will be received in one of two ways. Some people will think it's a fun and refreshingly uncomplicated junior hot hatch. But given that Toyota has built the car specifically to draw a link between the showroom Yaris and the company's World Rally Championship cars, others will think it's a bit of a copout. After all, it isn't particularly fast, it doesn't have bundles of power and it's still front-wheel drive.


I sit in the former camp. Having spoken at length with project leader Stijn Peeters and chief engineer Yoshinori Sasaki about the Yaris GRMN, it seems incredible the project has reached this stage at all. The car itself is relatively simple, but the challenges the pair faced during its development were enormous.

Take the engine as an example. It's a supercharged 1.8-litre four-pot, which makes a nice change from all the 1.6-litre turbos the GRMN's rivals seem to use. But actually getting it to fit into the Yaris's tiny engine bay was a massive headache.

And then there's the not inconsiderable matter of making the two components marry together on the normal Yaris production line in France. Toyota's global guidelines dictate a minimum clearance of 20mm in all directions between engine and body so that the motor slots in quickly and easily, keeping the entire production line moving freely.


Here, though, the clearance is more like a few millimetres, which means it's more difficult to squeeze into the shell, making costly stoppages much more likely. The factory wouldn't stop the line if Akio Toyoda's cat had wandered into the press shop and was about to be stamped into a door skin.

Anyway, you get the point. The Yaris GRMN shouldn't really have happened at all. 'Every single day people told us this project was too challenging,' says Peeters. 'They told us to stop, but we always had the support of the management.'

Toyota is deadly serious about getting back into the performance car game and this project demonstrates that. The GT86, launched back in 2012, was a step in the right direction; the new Supra is on its way, and soon enough there'll also be a long overdue replacement for the MR2. After several years of being the dreariest, most spirit-crushingly earnest car manufacturer out there Toyota is becoming interesting again.


The Yaris GRMN will run to just 400 units in Europe, with no more than 100 coming to the UK. Does that justify the £26,295 (€29,900) list price? Probably not. The somewhat clumsy moniker comes from Gazoo Racing, the in-house competition division responsible for Toyota's LMP1 programme, and Meisters of Nürburgring, referring to the super handy drivers who'll test and develop all GRMN products at the 'ring. Yes, it does sound a bit daft.

The supercharged four-cylinder will develop around 213hp (the car is yet to be homologated). Toyota's stated objective for the car is clear and concise: for it to be the lightest, fastest and most powerful car in its class. The body structure has been stiffened significantly and the springs and dampers are GRMN specific, while the front anti-roll bar is thicker. There's even a Torsen limited slip differential and four-pot brakes on the front axle.

The development programme still has a few months to run, but we got behind the wheel for an early taste nonetheless. As well as testing it on some of the difficult roads close to the Nürburgring we also squeezed in a single lap of the Nordschleife itself.


The first thing you notice is the seating position. The well-bolstered seats themselves are really supportive, but they're mounted too high. And the GT86-derived steering wheel doesn't reach out far enough. And the pedals aren't particularly well spaced for heel and toe downshifts. Unfortunately, all of that stuff is governed by Toyota's pesky global standards, which meant the engineers' hands were tied.

Then you notice the exhaust note. It's loud and rorty. Quite tinny, too. But it's entirely authentic, with none of the contrived pops and bangs that some hot hatches seem to favour. The engine itself is very good, for although it lacks the torquey punch of a turbo motor it's strong, it revs keenly to 7,000rpm, it's perfectly linear and throttle response is instantaneous. No turbo hot hatch can make that claim. The LSD allows you to get back on the power the moment the car is turned into a corner.

The six-speed manual gearbox is snicky and direct enough, meanwhile, and the steering allows you to place the car exactly where you want it. The chassis, however, is pretty uncompromising. The springs are fairly tough, which is where the car's poise and agility come from. There is just enough quality in the damping to deal with really broken, rutted surfaces, but day-to-day comfort could well be on the challenging side.


There are no complicated drive modes or adaptive dampers or any of that stuff. Being so small and light (1,135kg) the Yaris GRMN is just a huge amount of fun to fling around, which is what really matters. There's a degree of adjustability in the chassis and grip levels are modest enough that you can hang the car right over the edge at perfectly sensible road speeds.

All of which is very promising indeed. No, it isn't a WRC car with carpets and yes, it is pretty expensive. But it's also as entertaining to hoof along a road or track as any small hot hatch you'll ever come across.


TOYOTA YARIS GRMN
Engine
: 1,798cc, inline-4
Transmission: six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Power (hp): 212@6,800rpm
Torque (lb ft): 184@5,000rpm
0-62mph: 6.3 - 6.5secs*
Top speed: 143mph (limited)
Weight: 1,135kg
MPG: 37.6* (NEDC combined)
CO2: 170g/km*
Price: £26,295

* subject to final homologation

 

 

 

 

   

 

 

 

Author
Discussion

alpha channel

Original Poster:

911 posts

83 months

Monday 17th July
quotequote all
I rather like the look of that, no driver modes/active dampers, liner acceleration and instant throttle response is just what I like in a car i.e. not that complicated (in the grand scheme of things anyway). Doing any kind of work on that engine though is, I suspect, going to be an engine out job if the tolerances are that tight, I'm thinking belt changes, etc...

Bencolem

376 posts

160 months

Monday 17th July
quotequote all
Blah, blah, blah. Why didn't they chuck this engine in the GT86 and GRMN that instead.

Ultrafunkula

252 posts

26 months

Monday 17th July
quotequote all
I like this much more than the VW UP GTI as a basic hot hatch.

Will it be as good to drive as the Fiesta ST? I doubt it but it appeals to me more somehow.

bungz

532 posts

41 months

Monday 17th July
quotequote all
£27K

Wow.

Integroo

661 posts

6 months

Monday 17th July
quotequote all
Lot of things I would buy with 27k than a hot Yaris.

I mean, 220 odd bhp isn't bad at all - it will be a quick car, especially as it's so light. However, an extra 2.5k would get you a Type R, with 306bhp, and a lot more bells and whistles...
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Mike1990

389 posts

52 months

Monday 17th July
quotequote all
This reminds me of the pretty serious 'older' Hot Hatches of a few years ago, think Clio 200 Cup, R53 GP, Corsa VXR Nurburgring, raw, little uncouth but absolutely fantastic when going for a proper drive. It is expensive so i don't think we'll see many on the Roads. But credit for Engineers for sticking with it considering the constraints they have to deal with.

Looking forward to seeing and hearing more.

MorganP104

1,163 posts

51 months

Monday 17th July
quotequote all
bungz said:
£27K

Wow.
My thoughts exactly. This hot Yaris should be in the £17-19k bracket.

At £27k, it's an oddity, and will remain so until you can pick one up for less than half that on the used market. Give it a few years, and it might even pick up a cult following.

But now, new, and at £27k? Nah.

culpz

1,894 posts

33 months

Monday 17th July
quotequote all
It's a real shame that they're making this a limited production. It clearly must have been a huge effort to physically make the car and for it to, realistically, be put into production, as the article does state. 100 expected units coming to the UK is another low-blow.

IMO, i honestly don't think that this is special enough for the price tag and the limited numbers. I can understand the effort Toyota has put into this but will it really be that much better than the MK7 Fiesta ST? I was really excited for this car but it's just no longer a reality for me.

vz-r_dave

3,195 posts

139 months

Monday 17th July
quotequote all
Bencolem said:
Blah, blah, blah. Why didn't they chuck this engine in the GT86 and GRMN that instead.
Its an I4 not a boxer, it's not in partnership with Subaru...... both pretty good reasons from what I can see.

JLC25

207 posts

43 months

Monday 17th July
quotequote all
Not at this price unfortunately! Shame, as I was really looking forward to this. Maybe a good second hand buy, but a LOT more than you can get a barely (~4k Miles) used 208GTI PS or ST+ Mountune kit for.

GTEYE

912 posts

131 months

Monday 17th July
quotequote all
Goodness, that price!

I'm sure I'm not alone in thinking even 100 will be tough to shift at that price.

You'd have to walk past some pretty decent stuff from the class above (Golf GTis/Focus STs etc etc) to end up driving a Yaris.

I just can't see many people that daft!

VeeFource

798 posts

98 months

Monday 17th July
quotequote all
Surely only 100 units will make getting parts etc a complete nightmare? I don't understand why they'd make such a limited number when they've not even got a model to compete at Fiesta ST level. It's like Ford making an RS and not bothering with the ST!

zeDuffMan

1,770 posts

72 months

Monday 17th July
quotequote all
220hp and 1135kg could be a small riot. Agree with the above about sticking it in the GT86 though.

ambuletz

6,008 posts

102 months

Monday 17th July
quotequote all
mad price but they're only selling 100 here so w/e. If it gets well received hopefully they will make a cheaper verson to rival a fiesta ST.

Vocht

979 posts

85 months

Monday 17th July
quotequote all
£27k* really is strong money for this. If you compare it to the Clio RS 182 Trophy, that was only £15,500 when new in 2005, so around £22k in todays money.

For that price tag they really needed to make it much more special. Something like carbon backed seats and rear roll cage in favour for back seats (such as the Abarth 695 Biposto). Having said that, if they've put all their spend into the mechanics and not the aesthetics, then that should be celebrated.

Hopefully the GRMN exercise will be a success for Toyota and we'll see more GRMN influence in their future line up, unfortunately for me though, my hopes of picking up a nice used example in a couple of years time look very slim.


Edited by Vocht on Monday 17th July 13:13

Martingt4

3 posts

18 months

Monday 17th July
quotequote all
I have to admit the price is rather high but that is the problem with such a low volume production run, the development cost per unit is that much higher.

Also I have to object about stopping the production line, ALL employees are empowered to stop the production line if they spot an issue. It's a key part of the Toyota way, so Akios theoretical cat is safe

kayzee

1,558 posts

102 months

Monday 17th July
quotequote all
Martingt4 said:
I have to admit the price is rather high but that is the problem with such a low volume production run, the development cost per unit is that much higher.
Then produce more and reduce the price?

1,000 of these (in the UK) @ £20k would work much better.

I commend Toyota for actually going ahead with this project though, even though I doubt I'll ever see one!

Toyoda

486 posts

21 months

Monday 17th July
quotequote all
Agree with everyone saying £26K is way too high for this! I totally appreciate all the reasoning for arriving at the price, but to me that still doesn't justify it. I also hadn't realised it was going to be such a limited run either, so the anticipation has lead to quite an anti climax.

Martingt4

3 posts

18 months

Monday 17th July
quotequote all
I think the problem is that 1000 units is a tipping point when it comes to homologation, where things get a lot more expensive/complicated. Hence why there were only 1000 DS3 racings produced (until they changed the ECU map claimed it was a different car and produced a second run of 1000 cars)

rastapasta

145 posts

59 months

Monday 17th July
quotequote all
didnt they put this engine in the Auris/Corolla hotch hatch?? whatever t was called. i seem to remember those being powered by a supercharged 1.8