New Toyota Yaris GRMN: a hot hatch dark horse?

Published: 07 March 2017

► 1.8 litre supercharged engine
► ‘205+’ bhp promised
► On sale early 2018

A Toyota Yaris hot hatch? Not an oxymoron, but a real car: the Toyota Yaris GRMN, revealed at the 2017 Geneva Motor show.

We saw the first pictures of the hotted-up Yaris in Gazoo concept form in January, now Toyota’s released more details of its hot hatch and confirmed its appearance at the 2017 Geneva show.

Toyota says the GRMN is inspired by Toyota’s return to the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) in 2017 with Toyota Gazoo Racing and the Yaris WRC after a 17-year break from the competition.

And yes, ‘GRMN’ is its official, production-ready moniker. It stands for Gazoo Racing Masters of Nürburgring. Obviously.

This is the first hot Yaris, right?

Yes and no. Back in 2001 Toyota launched the T-Sport with a 103 bhp 1.5 litre VVT, good for 0-60mph in 8.7 seconds. But this is the first truly fast Yaris for the road.

The GRMN’s 1.8-litre supercharged engine is unusual in a class where turbocharging is the norm for rivals such as the Ford Fiesta ST (the latest version of which also debuts at Geneva), VW’s Polo GTI, Seat’s Ibiza Cupra, the Mini Cooper S and the Peugeot 208 GTI. 

Perhaps conscious of its lack of pedigree in this market, Toyota is promising ‘over 205bhp’, lifting the Yaris above many of its obvious rivals, with the exception of the 220 bhp Renault Clio RS Trophy.

Toyota’s claims that the GRMN will deliver best-in-class 0-62mph and in-gear acceleration times between 50 and 75 mph therefore seem credible.

All that power will go to the front wheels, through a six-speed manual transmission.

What’s the suspension story?

Toyota says the suspension was tuned through extensive testing on the Nürburgring’s Nordschleife with input from its Gazoo Racing division (hence the name).

Shorter springs are teamed with dampers specifically developed with Sachs, there’s a larger diameter front anti-roll bar and additional bracing for the front suspension towers.

Four-pot calipers bite on larger ventilated discs up front, and a Torsen limited-slip differential aims to keep those horses under control.

Sounds good so far. Does the style match the substance?

We’ll let you make up your own mind on that one. Toyota says that ‘the Yaris GRMN’s performance credentials are clearly broadcast in its styling’.

It’s three-door only, it rides on 17-inch BBS multi-spoke alloys and it’s fitted with a bold rear spoiler and modified front and rear bumpers, one of those faux diffuser things, and a central tailpipe.

Toyota also claims best-in- class body support for the front seats, although how this was measured isn’t clear.

Click here for a list of all the new cars at the Geneva 2017 motor show.

By Martin Tilbrook

Contributor to CAR, winner of Phil Llewellin award for budding writers