Toyota. It is no lie that the Japanese brand is more readily associated with reliability and durability than performance.
Well, back in the day, Toyota had fun road cars, such as the Group N Conquest RSI, their championship-winning rally car and even the Corolla RSI sedan.
Sadly, they did not enjoy good sales like the GTIs of this world and were discontinued.
But Toyota have launched a refocus on cars that are exciting to drive and established a platform for Toyota to participate in motorsport – to the benefit of all Toyota cars.
I had the opportunity to spend time driving the limited-edition Toyota Yaris GRMN – “Gazoo Racing tuned by the Meister of the Nürburgring”.
There are a couple of things wrong with this Yaris.
The worse thing is that Toyota built only 400 units globally and only three are in South Africa for marketing purposes.
Secondly, I do not know about the pricing. I had number 391/400 on test.
I will not go into too much detail about how the car looks but it is inspired and influenced by the Yaris WRC.
It features lightweight 17-inch BBS alloy wheels, larger brakes, central oval tailpipe and a bespoke exterior that displays Toyota Gazoo Racing’s white, black and red competition colours.
Designed to reflect the Yaris GRMN’s special appeal, there is an engine start button and a leather-wrapped steering wheel, ourced from the Toyota GT86 coupe, alongside an aluminium sports pedal set, aluminium trim detailing and a high grade combimeter with TFT display.
In terms of power plant, the Yaris features a nippy 2ZR-FE 1.8-litre, four-cylinder, 16V supercharged engine tuned to produce 156kW at 6 800rpm and 250Nm at 5 000 rpm and weighs in at only 1 135kg.
Eager to find out how the pocket rocket performs, I headed to Gerotek for a full performance test with data.
Before I speak numbers, straight-line speed is not what this car is all about.
The car is about having fun.
It gets around corners quickly and it stays tight and composed, thanks to the stiffened chassis, shorter springs with Sachs performance shocks and a Torsen limited-slip differential up front.
It seems natural to compare the new Polo GTI and the Yaris GRMN here, since they are direct competitors that I happened to test at the same world-class facility.
The Yaris GRMN managed to sprint from 0-100 km in 6.91 seconds which is slightly slower than the GTI’s time of 6.72 seconds.
The Yaris hit the quarter mile in 15.05 seconds at a speed of 153km/h and a top speed of 223.78km/h, versus the Polo’s 14.96 seconds at 164km/h, with a 236.09km/h top whack.
But here is the thing, the Yaris GRMN has more power, it is lighter and gets off the line with virtually no wheel spin.
The Polo GTI has less power and is heavier but has more torque and it struggled to find grip when launched. So you definitely understand why I say the Yaris GRMN is all about fun and attacking corners.
I could live with the Yaris on a day-to-day basis.
What a privilege to drive the limited-edition @ToyotaSA Yaris GRMN.
Only 400 units made globally and 3 are in the country for marketing purposes. Sadly, this isn’t sold in SA.
It packs 156kW/250Nm from its punchy1.8 four-pot engine.
— Ntsako Mthethwa (@NtsakoMthethwa) October 1, 2018
It has comfortable seats designed specifically for the car by Toyota Boshoku, providing best-in-class body holding and support.
It also has all the bells and whistles of any road car but you tend to feel every bump on the road because of the stiffened chassis.
The Yaris GRMN is one of those cars that are hard to drive economically. It returned a fuel consumption of 12.2l/100km which is high for such a small car.
This may be due to the supercharger and the fuel system that has been upgraded, using components from a V6 engine.
For the record, the Gazoo Racing (GR) brand is set to be rolled out to local Toyota dealerships as a proper performance offering.
There are four different levels:
- GR-Line: cosmetic package
- GR-Sport: suspension package
- GR: power package
- GRMN: high-power package
The brand will cater to the needs of a wide target audience.
It will also be expanded to multiple model ranges.
As our Road Test Editor Mark Jones would say, this was the first real taste of where Gazoo Racing is going in terms of road cars and it simply means that the good old days of potent, fun to drive Toyotas are very much on the way back.
What we like.
- Great handling and potent engine.
- Bold styling.
What we do not like.
- Not for our market.
- Fuel consumption a concern.
Toyota is headed in the right direction in terms of high performance road cars, but sadly the Yaris GRMN is not sold here.
Road test data.