We drive Toy­ota’s su­per­charged Yaris

Auto Express - - Contents - Adam Towler

TOY­OTA hasn’t made a hot hatch­back for more than a gen­er­a­tion, but now it’s back with a pretty spe­cialised of­fer­ing, and Auto Ex­press has had an early taster of the high-per­for­mance Yaris GRMN at the Nür­bur­gring in Ger­many.

The new model’s suf­fix stands for ‘Ga­zoo Rac­ing tuned by Meis­ters of the Nür­bur­gring’. Only 400 ex­am­ples will ever be built, and be­tween 90 and 100 are pro­jected to come to the UK.

The Yaris GRMN fea­tures a su­per­charged 1.8-litre en­gine, and although the car is still go­ing through the ho­molo­ga­tion process, the fi­nal out­puts should be around 210bhp and 250Nm of torque. Th­ese eas­ily over­come a kerb­weight of just 1,135kg to de­liver an im­pres­sive 0-60mph time that’s ex­pected to be as low as 6.3 sec­onds. That power is de­ployed via a re­in­forced six-speed man­ual gear­box to a Torsen-type lim­ited-slip dif­fer­en­tial, while ex­haust gases exit through a be­spoke cen­tre-exit tailpipe.

The sus­pen­sion is both stiffer and lower, with spe­cial Sachs-made dampers, while wheels are BBS 17-inch items that save 1.6kg per cor­ner over a stan­dard 17-inch wheel. The brakes are much more ef­fec­tive, with four-pot calipers on the front axle that prom­ise not only vastly im­proved stop­ping power, but also much bet­ter pedal feel.

Vis­ually, the Yaris GRMN is sur­pris­ingly mild, although the large Ga­zoo Rac­ing stick­ers of the pro­duc­tion car, in red and black, be­tray its in­tent. They can be deleted at the time of pur­chase, if so de­sired.

From the mo­ment this pre-pro­duc­tion pro­to­type fires up it’s ob­vi­ous this is a Yaris un­like any other. The ex­haust has a real

Lim­ited-run Yaris has 210bhp Only 400 built; £26,295 price

bark, which intensifies with revs, so that you’ll need to shout to a pas­sen­ger to be heard un­der hard ac­cel­er­a­tion.

It’s a quick car, too, although with­out the sud­den burst of torque typ­i­cal of a mod­ern tur­bocharged hot hatch, so you’ll need to work the en­gine hard through the gears to re­ally en­joy the full ex­tent of the car’s per­for­mance. That is not a chore, how­ever; in fact, the slick gearchange and sharp throt­tle re­sponse make flit­ting be­tween ra­tios all the more sat­is­fy­ing.

Ini­tially, the GRMN’S sus­pen­sion feels very firm, but once above 20mph it smooths out and then of­fers a lot of body con­trol over even awk­ward road sur­faces. The steer­ing is a lit­tle ar­ti­fi­cial around the straight ahead and in the man­ner in which it self cen­tres, but there’s very lit­tle torque steer, de­spite the dif­fer­en­tial.

The GRMN is a car that begs to be driven ev­ery­where as hard as pos­si­ble, free of gim­micky driv­ing modes. It’s loud and manic, although the stan­dard Bridge­stones re­lin­quish their grip rel­a­tively easy and soon start to squeal. Per­haps the car’s big­gest fail­ing is its er­gonomics; a high­set seat and a driv­ing po­si­tion that lacks much in the way of ad­just­ment mean taller driv­ers will strug­gle to get com­fort­able.

At £26,295, the GRMN is a lot of money for a Yaris, but then this is a vastly more ex­clu­sive car than some­thing like a Ford Fi­esta ST. It’s well spec­i­fied, too, with DAB, cli­mate con­trol and sat-nav all stan­dard.

EQUIP­MENT Hot Yaris comes with a lofty price tag of more than £26k, but stan­dard kit in­cludes nav, cli­mate con­trol and Ga­zoo Rac­ing screen be­tween di­als

TECH Hefty brakes are much more ex­treme than on the stan­dard Yaris; they’re de­signed to im­prove stop­ping power and also give bet­ter pedal feel

ON THE ROAD The Yaris’s su­per­charged en­gine needs to be worked hard, but this is part of the GRMN’S charm NEED TO KNOW In­te­rior gets sports seats and ‘cen­tre line’ in the steer­ing wheel to show when the front wheels are point­ing ahead

New Yaris GRMN is an ex­treme model, but apart from its chunky rear wing, it doesn’t shout loudly about its per­for­mance vis­ually; even the pro­duc­tion car’s stick­ers (be­low) can be deleted if re­quired

SEAT­ING Driv­ing po­si­tion is one of the GRMN’S weak­est points; the seat is sup­port­ive, but it’s too high, and there’s not enough ad­just­ment for taller driv­ers to be com­fort­able

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