GR Yaris fans look away now. Toyota has made good on its promise to introduce a 'fully tuned' version of its hugely popular AWD supermini at Tokyo Auto Salon - but (for now at least) it seems the new GRMN-badged model will remain the preserve of the JDM. Just 500 examples are planned, with a reservation lottery due to start immediately on Gazoo Racing's domestic website ahead of deliveries this summer.
The news is especially galling because while no mention is made of changes to the turbocharged three-cylinder engine (though peak torque appears to have crept up), worthwhile gains appear to have been made elsewhere. Said to be the result of lessons learnt in motorsport - the GR Yaris has already featured in several Japanese competitions - the GRMN features a number of innovations, not least the decision to remove the back seats, saving some 20kg over the standard car.
Alongside a prominent rear brace, the manufacturer has increased the number of spot welds by 545, and applied additional structural adhesive in the pursuit of better body rigidity. The GRMN also gets a toughened-up close-ratio manual transmission and shorter final gearing, which is said to result in a more efficient use of the engine power band from first to fourth. And while it doesn't go into technical detail on the subject, the new specification suggests that the Torsen differentials used on the Circuit Pack model have been replaced with a mechanical LSD front and back.
Jealous yet? Well, brace yourself, because there's more. In addition to the 'standard' GRMN configuration, there is also the potential for selecting a Circuit or Rally package on top. The former is likely to be the most prized variant because it will only be available as 50-unit limited edition in special Matte Steel paint. For a hefty premium, it brings with it 18-inch GRMN alloys, bigger brakes, adjustable Bilstein dampers and the more aggressive aero package you see pictured.
This includes a CFRP rear spoiler, side skirt and lip spoiler. The Circuit Pack is 10mm wider and lower than the GR Yaris, and is plainly aimed at making the most of the GRMN's enhanced track performance. But the Rally Package is no less interesting; it might lose the bodykit, but it apparently adds bespoke dampers and a short stabiliser link set alongside an 'under guard' and a fairly serious looking rear-mounted roll bar (it's clearly visible in the interior pics of the red car). Also it's a dealer-fit option, so might yet prove to be the more numerous variant with a new WRC campaign to inspire customers.
Toyota lists no other alterations inside, but the images suggest that infotainment deletion and Recaro bucket seats are among the GRMN's upgrades - another attribute likely to have some UK GR Yaris buyers grinding their teeth in envy. Still, it's worth pointing out that the limited edition model comes with a self-limiting price tag: if our sums are right, the GRMN starts at around £46k, with the Circuit Pack knocking on the door of £55k. And remember the GR Yaris is cheaper in Japan to start with. Of course, none of that will stop the car being massively oversubscribed, and buyers are even promised a 'Personalisation Program' post sale, with additional parts and software upgrades in the offing. Winners of the lottery will be announced in March. Lucky sods.
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