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Geneva show: Toyota Yaris GRMN goes official

Yaris in Paris: France will be one of the select markets around the world who will have access to the new Toyota Yaris GRMN.

Not-for-Australia Yaris GRMN to herald more performance models from Toyota


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13 Mar 2017


TOYOTA unveiled a Gazoo Racing-fettled GRMN version of its Yaris micro car at the Geneva motor show last week – complete with a supercharged 1.8-litre engine – but the high-performance three-door hatch remains off the table for the Australian market.

However, speaking to GoAuto after the reveal, Toyota Gazoo Racing head – and 86 global chief engineer – Tetsuya Tada said the Yaris GRMN would be the first of more performance models from Toyota.

When asked which models, Mr Tada confirmed a fettled 86 is in the works.

“Oh yeah, sure, sure,” he said. “The 86 also, we are preparing.”

An 86 GRMN could see performance enhancements similar to the Yaris, which uses a supercharger instead of a turbo due to restrictions in the engine bay – the same shortcomings, Toyota says, which apply to the two-door, rear-drive coupe.

“There are many reasons to use supercharger,” Mr Tada said. “So this car Yaris has limitation in the engine compartment. A supercharger doesn’t require as much room as turbocharger.

“We tried to pursue engine and throttle response, not so much focus on high power, that is why we used supercharger.”

However, a Volkswagen Golf GTI-baiting performance Corolla – similar to the Sportivo variant sold in the early 2000s – may be a more complicated proposition, according to Mr Tada.

“Each country has its own regulations,” he said, pointing to the fact that making a single, globally developed Corolla GRMN was difficult due to the many variations of the small car found around the world.

Mr Tada also hinted at Gazoo Racing’s future direction, likely implementing electrification into its performance portfolio.

“Toyota is a hybrid image company,” he said. “Motor and battery, such heavy weight and you need some time to improve such heavy weight. But I think in the near future we can get the right weight.”

The first electric-assisted sportscar from Toyota could be the long-rumoured reborn Supra – previewed in the 2014 FT-1 concept revealed during the Detroit motor show and a name which the Japanese brand applied for Australian trademark protection last year.

When asked about the hybrid possibility of Toyota’s new Supra, Mr Tada laughed and responded simply with “please, wait some more”.

Meanwhile, confirmed markets for the Yaris GRMN are Japan, Germany and France, with production limited to 100 units per country.

Development of the Yaris was split between Toyota’s European and Japanese teams, with the former responsible for changes to the engine and interior, and the latter taking care of the chassis and braking systems.

The 1.8-litre engine, which produces more than 155kW, is unique in the micro-hatch segment for utilising a supercharger instead of a turbocharger to increase performance.

It seems to have paid off, too, with the Yaris GRMN able to accelerate from zero to 100km/h in just 6.6 seconds – faster than the turbocharged 134kW/240Nm Ford Fiesta ST and 141kW/320Nm Volkswagen Polo GTI.

This also makes it quicker than its 152kW/212Nm naturally aspirated, rear-drive 86 stablemate.

Power is fed exclusively through a six-speed manual gearbox, while Mr Tada indicated that if there was enough customer demand, an automatic version could also be produced.

Increased chassis bracing, lower ride height, a retuned (and Nurburgring-honed) suspension system and a Torsen limited-slip differential ensure the front-drive Yaris GRMN stays planted on the road, while four-pot front brakes with ventilated discs provide the stopping power.

Drawing from Toyota’s involvement in World Rally Championship racing, the new Yaris features striking exterior changes, including two-toned decals on white bodywork, 17-inch BBS wheels, a single centre-exit exhaust and black roof-mounted rear spoiler.

Inside, the Toyota is fitted with front sports seats, aluminium pedals, redesigned instrumentation and the 86’s smaller-diameter leather-clad steering wheel.

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