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RE: Toyota Yaris GRMN: Driven

RE: Toyota Yaris GRMN: Driven

Thursday 11th January

Toyota Yaris GRMN: Driven

Can the GRMN bid TTFN to its supermini hot hatch rivals?



Can any discussion of the Toyota Yaris GRMN avoid the price? Rather like Drift Mode on a Focus RS, the noise of a four-cylinder Porsche, or how a McLaren Senna looks, most probably not. So let's begin there.

It's easy to smirk at £26k. It is, after all, a lot of money for a hot supermini with similar power to its rivals and a very pricey Yaris. It's more even than a GT86. Crikey, even a Golf R isn't massively far off £26k, and what more motor vehicle do you need than a Golf R?

However, spend a little time with the GRMN and the case for its defence becomes a lot stronger. There will be just 600 of these little cars made, with only 100 coming to the UK. It's chock full of expensive components too, like Sachs Performance dampers, a Magnuson Eaton supercharger, forged wheels and a Torsen limited-slip differential. Combine all that with the effort involved in bringing to production a car which was never intended to have a performance variant (on the regular Yaris line), plus the impact required to launch a new brand, and it's easy to see why the Yaris costs what it costs. Finally, if none of that can convince you of the Yaris's RRP, bear in mind that every single UK car has an allocated buyer and half a dozen Belgian buyers have been forced to pay €44k because of taxes. So there you are. Bruges would probably seem less of a fairytale city if you'd been made to stump up that.


The Gazoo Racing Meister of the Nurburgring heralds the launch of a more cohesive motorsport project from Toyota, even if that doesn't yet extend to the nomenclature. See, Toyota has actually accrued its fair share of motorsport kudos over the years, yet arguably still doesn't have the brand recognition that others do when it comes to fast cars. In the past 20 years it's fielded the GT-One at Le Mans (then returned to endurance racing at the height of Audi dominance), won the WRC in its final season (then come back as drastic rule changes were brought in), raced at every N24 since 2007 (including with cars such as the LFA and, this year, the C-HR) plus created a GT86 rally car. Because the world needed more rear-wheel drive rally cars. With all that and so much more, you should expect a lot from a tinkered Toyota, even if your first instinct isn't to.

The GRMN feels like the very definition of a skunkworks project. A group of dedicated enthusiasts have pleaded with management to have this car made, with parts purloined from wherever they could be sourced, to create their vision of the best fast Yaris. So it has the steering wheel from a GT86, the stronger subframe from the Yaris Hybrid, a catalytic converter from a Lexus and the regular six-speed gearbox, albeit strengthened for this installation. More than that there's an apparent attention to detail that you only seem to get when the very committed few are involved. For example the wheels could have been bigger for the sake of style, but they were kept at 17-inches for the sake of unsprung mass; same for the brake discs. The steering wheel has been modified to improve the driver's grip and thus their connection with the car. In the press conference we're told that, although 62mph comes up in 6.4 seconds, that's with a change into third and so - this being the UK rotation and all - it was deemed necessary to tell us that 60mph takes "about 6.1 seconds". They're an enthusiastic bunch, exactly the kind you would want building your hot hatch.

A competitive bunch too, it would seem, because the GRMNs used on track are running a very aggressive Bridgestone Potenza RE11S (as opposed to the standard RE050). They won't be offered to customers and aren't actually legal in Europe, the logic being that the rubber shows off the car to its best ability and that a dedicated customer would need only change their tyres to have a proper track tearaway on their hands. Personally it feels a little disingenuous, rather like Justin Gatlin and the assistance he employed to show off to his best ability. A track tyre option is not unheard of nowadays, but to fit something not even offered for sale is slightly cynical. And will buyers of a car so rare really invest in another set of wheels and tyres for track days?


So all GRMN track observations run with the proviso that it was on a tyre as focused as a Michelin Cup 2, if not more so. Unsurprisingly traction and grip are huge, the Yaris's purchase seemingly unimpeachable for the first few laps. Beyond that though there feels a chassis of real quality too: it's nimble and adjustable in that impish hot hatch fashion, without behaving erratically. It's not just lairy oversteer but the kind of balance that really helps you around a lap, flighty yet not frightening. The brakes are fantastic, the supercharged engine is punchy and the steering is decent. What must be wrong with it on standard tyres? If there are any GRMN owners on PH out there, get it on track soon and let us know...

Fortunately the Yaris proves anything but undriveable and uninteresting on the road using the standard tyre. In fact it's raw, raucous, and engaging; the antithesis of so much offered today and all the better for it. Toyota would have struggled to make a Polo GTI style hot hatch and so has trodden its own path, creating something so tremendously exciting that it's hard to level such a result with the same progenitor as the Auris. It's as much of a shock to the system as the GT86 was in 2012, perhaps more so.


There are no modes to configure or settings to mull over, making the Yaris refreshingly simple. So while it's firm around town (that'll be the 60 per cent increase in spring rate) the pay-off is an addictive agility and eagerness at speed, the kind that makes you just want to drive and drive and drive. The Sachs dampers - reworked since the prototype drive for more compliance - deliver outstanding control, allowing you to carry all the speed you want with great confidence. They're also said to contribute to the traction, aided of course by the limited-slip diff - full throttle out of second gear hairpins sees nary a flicker from the traction control light, the Yaris locked on line and driving out hard without any of the lag found in its turbocharged rivals. And while the exhaust looks naff, this GRMN is the best sounding hot hatch out there: an angry, fizzing rasp accompanies full throttle, with hints of supercharger whine too.

To say the Yaris GRMN feels old-fashioned would be to sell it short, because it's a car of far greater ability and talent than a lot from the past decade. Traditional feels a better fit, because it delivers everything we've always wanted from a hot hatch: it's a proper giggle to drive fast, begging you to push harder and entirely capable of accommodating that. It makes a bit too much noise, the stickers are brash (though they can be removed) and people who value image in their fast car will hate it; as a result, therefore, the Yaris GRMN is quite brilliant. Different, yes, but still brilliant.

As an introduction to the Gazoo Racing brand in the UK there's much to be encouraged by with this car; a series production version is being investigated, but we wouldn't hold out too much hope given how difficult the GRMN's gestation has been. What it has proved is that Toyota is more than capable of producing a feisty and focused hot hatch. One that, on this experience, feels about as good as supermini pocket rockets get. Of course it will take a full test in the UK to fully establish that - plus the arrival of some key rivals - but be in no doubt: those 100 British buyers are in for an absolute treat, and the Yaris will feel like money well spent.


SPECIFICATION - TOYOTA YARIS GRMN

Engine: 1,798cc, supercharged 4-cyl
Transmission: 6-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Power (hp): 212@6,800rpm
Torque (lb ft): 184@5,000rpm
0-62mph: 6.4 secs
Top speed: 143mph (limited)
Weight: 1,135kg
MPG: 37.6 (NEDC combined)
CO2: 170g/km
Price: £26,295

 

 

 

 

 

 

[Source: Bridgestone]

Author
Discussion

TheFinners

Original Poster:

467 posts

53 months

Wednesday 10th January
quotequote all
Of all the brilliant cars on sale today, is it odd that one of the ones I want the most is a Toyota Yaris covered in stickers?

Krikkit

11,560 posts

107 months

Wednesday 10th January
quotequote all
I really wanted one of these, but the limited run and mega starting price meant it's a no-go. If it was a series production model with a decent reduction in price (maybe £22k?) it'd sell really well.

The Spruce goose

14,545 posts

121 months

Wednesday 10th January
quotequote all
its weird 5 years ago this would be massive news, but now with so many hot hatches it just doesn't seem enough. A supercharged engine, they did that 12 years ago.

TooMany2cvs

21,996 posts

52 months

Wednesday 10th January
quotequote all
"GRMN"? I assumed it was a tie-in with a satnav maker.

culpz

2,826 posts

38 months

Wednesday 10th January
quotequote all
My only major gripe is the limited numbers, not the asking price. I think Toyota have missed a trick making these in standard production form.

With that being said, only so many people will plump up that much for a fast Yaris. So, maybe there is method in the madness after all.
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s m

15,877 posts

129 months

Wednesday 10th January
quotequote all
I'd like to try one to see how it compares to the old R53 Cooper Works

ambuletz

6,540 posts

107 months

Wednesday 10th January
quotequote all
I don't get what makes it expensive, the limited run and it being supercharged? fair enough. It's good to see though, not many new small cars are supercharged. mostly turbos now.

Hopefully this paves the way for a cheaper one that's 200hp.

ZX10R NIN

9,502 posts

51 months

Wednesday 10th January
quotequote all
It expensive because of the non stock components that mean these won't roll down the production line like normal models, I don't think it's overly expensive.

Mike1990

484 posts

57 months

Wednesday 10th January
quotequote all
Love this, reminds me of the R53 GP Mini with it being Supercharged. Interesting to see how it stacks up against the other more focused Diff’d up Hot Hatches.

CABC

1,754 posts

27 months

Wednesday 10th January
quotequote all
ZX10R NIN said:
It expensive because of the non stock components that mean these won't roll down the production line like normal models, I don't think it's overly expensive.
exactly. drive a Golf R and you feel the difference. or not.
sounds a great car.

givablondabone

2,303 posts

81 months

Wednesday 10th January
quotequote all
Love this and I imagine the depreciation will be slight for those prepared to stump up the 26k?

martin12345

31 posts

15 months

Wednesday 10th January
quotequote all
There's a lot about this car to really like - personally the stickers are vile as I like my cars "Q" but it seems they can be deleted so all well


The most disappointing thing about the car is the fuel economy - not because it matters to me, but because Toyota can't afford to make lots of these and meet their average fleet CO2 requirements - so, with such bad fuel economy they will only make in small numbers and then it will always be expensive - to get the fuel economy better (Fiesta ST & Polo GTi are close to 50mpg rather than 40mpg) would need a lot more time and effort which can't be justified with a low production volume with a unique engine. Viscous circle sadly

Ford, VW, PSA, Renault etc get round this by using standard turbo engines from bigger cars in their small cars to make hot hatches eg Fiesta ST 1.6 is/was used in Focus and Mondeo in big (global) volumes. New Polo GTi engine is in the Passat, A3, A4, again huge global volumes. This supercharged engine (lovely thing) is unique and so will always make the car really expensive (if lovely) So for Toyota to make a car like this in big volumes they really need a suitable big volume engine with good fuel economy which they do not have at the moment

GroundEffect

10,568 posts

82 months

Wednesday 10th January
quotequote all
ambuletz said:
I don't get what makes it expensive, the limited run and it being supercharged? fair enough. It's good to see though, not many new small cars are supercharged. mostly turbos now.

Hopefully this paves the way for a cheaper one that's 200hp.
If you've got investment amortised in to the contribution cost - you need to recover it somehow...

And I doubt this is much of a parts-bin exercise...

Usget

4,016 posts

137 months

Wednesday 10th January
quotequote all
This is fab, and I liked it even more once I learned what GRMN actually stood for.

Sounds like more of a spiritual successor to the old DC2 than anything Honda makes nowadays.

ash73

14,262 posts

147 months

Wednesday 10th January
quotequote all
What a brilliant little car. Love the wheels! I'd delete the decals though.

jwrigglesworth

18 posts

30 months

Thursday 11th January
quotequote all
TooMany2cvs said:
"GRMN"? I assumed it was a tie-in with a satnav maker.
I assumed 'Gremlin'

GibsonSG

127 posts

37 months

Thursday 11th January
quotequote all
Amazed there’s not more comments on this. I guess it’s the kind of car we ought to like but no-one actually buys. I’d have one and I’d probably keep the decals on too! Got to admire companies that bring out such focussed products.

s m

15,877 posts

129 months

Thursday 11th January
quotequote all
GibsonSG said:
Amazed there’s not more comments on this. I guess it’s the kind of car we ought to like but no-one actually buys. I’d have one and I’d probably keep the decals on too! Got to admire companies that bring out such focussed products.
Maybe more people would buy one if it was actually available to buy? Unless I've misread the article they've sold the allocation of 100 UK cars already.
There were certainly plenty of buyers for Cooper S Works when it was supercharged at roughly the same price back over a decade ago - offered the same formula, rorty exhaust, supercharger whine, LSD, great handling.

Plug Life

307 posts

17 months

Thursday 11th January
quotequote all
jwrigglesworth said:
I assumed 'Gremlin'
I assumed 'Germany'

wab172uk

950 posts

153 months

Thursday 11th January
quotequote all
Is it really going to be worth £8000 more than the new Fiesta ST with similar power?

I fear not. But I'm sure all 100 Units will sell fast, and then be up for sale at over £30k

And people were saying the new Megane RS was expensive ............