We now know what was lurking in that darkened teaser Toyota released last week. As hoped, it is indeed a GRMN Yaris, a car that takes the celebrated GR Yaris up a notch. It’s the first time we’ve seen the ‘Gazoo Racing Masters of Nurburgring’ badge in nearly five years, and it’s back with a bang.
The 1.6-litre inline-three hasn’t changed much, still producing 267bhp, although torque is up by 15lb ft to 288lb ft. What you’re much more likely to notice when putting your foot down is the new gearbox. We have closer ratio first and fourth gears to “make efficient use of the engine power band” and a lower final drive. The internals of the ‘box have been strengthened too.
To go with the enlivened gearbox, the GRMN Yaris gets a smattering of weight reduction measures. There’s a new vented carbon fibre bonnet, while inside, the GR Yaris’ tiny rear seats have been binned, giving a total loss of 20kg.
It sits 10mm than a GR Yaris on adjustable Bilstein dampers, and where the back seats used to be, there’s now a beefy chassis brace joining the rear strut towers. Helping rigidity further, there are 545 additional spot welds dotted around the body shell. The ‘GR Four’ all-wheel drive system is retained, but here, the Torsen geared differentials are binned in favour of more aggressive plated LSDs.
There’s a set of GRMN-specific BBS 18-inch wheels wearing Yokohama Advan AD52s, and if the Circuit Package is specced, some aero improvements to help push those semi-slick tyres into the asphalt. These consist of a pair of side skirts, a new front splitter, and a carbon fibre rear spoiler.
The Rally Package does without the new aero bits, sits a tad higher on different dampers and has additional under-body protection. It’s designed to “enhance driving performance on all road surfaces, based on feedback from the All Japan Rally”. Gravel road skids ahoy!
Where it gets really interesting is the update and personalisation programmes - even after you’ve taken the keys to your GRMN Yaris, the car won’t be in its final form. First off, the update programme will provide things like “additional parts and software updates” gleaned from Toyota‘s racing activities.
The personalisation programme meanwhile involves looking at customer driving data to offer suitable tweaks to the steering, damping and spring rates and aero to best suit them.
You want one, don’t you? Us too, but there’s a problem. Only 500 will be made, all for the Japanese domestic market, with the build slots allocated by lottery.
If you’re one of the lucky few, some piggy bank raiding will be necessary. The base GRMN Yaris is 7,317,000 yen (just under £47,000), while the Circuit Package is 8,467,000 yen (£54,200), and the Rally Package 8,378,764 yen (£53,700).