While cars like the Yaris GRMN, new Supra and GR Super Sport concept are stealing the headlines, perhaps the more exciting news from Toyota's performance renaissance is the pyramid of GR (Gazoo Racing) hierarchy. Because below GRMN will sit three additional tiers: GR, GR Sport and GR Parts, the idea that you can get a hint of the flagship car model in your regular car. If you're one of those hoping for tasty aftermarket bits for a GT86 (with a warranty) under GR Parts, then you certainly aren't alone...
Anyway, here is the UK's first GR Sport model, the Yaris. Toyota says it delivers "genuine fun-to-drive performance and sports styling", with a range of modifications including Sachs Performance dampers "similar" to those in the GRMN, a solid rather than hollow anti-roll bar for rigidity and lower ride height. The 17-inch wheels use the same Bridgestone Potenza RE050 tyres as the supercharged car.
Aesthetically, the GR Sport will be distinguished by a rear spoiler, black details, unique headlights and optional red decals. It also gets GR-branded front seats, the same steering wheel as a GRMN (and therefore the GT86, too) and contrast stitching throughout.
A modest sporting overhaul then, and one that will only be offered as a hybrid as well. Shame. And we're not being dismissive of hybrid tech here - goodness knows that's more than proved its place now - but because in the Yaris that means just 99hp. So instead of something to go up against cars like the Corsa GSI, Swift Sport and Fiesta Zetec S, the Yaris is a small Japanese performance car that can only just crack 12 seconds to 60 and crawl across 100mph. Boo.
That said, GR Sport sits below both GR and GRMN in the new Toyota performance pyramid, so perhaps it was unreasonable to expect too much. It just seems something of a missed opportunity not to capitalise on the GRMN's favourable reception with a more widely available and similarly focused follow up. As it is it looks like GR Sport will be a trim level similar to VW's R Line and Peugeot's GT Line. The Yaris GR Sport will be shown at the Paris show, with sales due to commence before the year is out. As for a price, expect something in the £20k region that the current Yaris Hybrid range toppers reside in.