Last week, Toyota promised us a 'fully-tuned' version of its fast GR Yaris hot hatch, and this week at the modified cars session of the Tokyo Auto Salon, that's exactly what we're getting. World, meet the GRMN Yaris.
GRMN stands for Gazoo Racing Meister of the Nurburgring, and it's a sub-brand that sits above mere fast GR models. If GR is Toyota's answer to Ford's ST, then GRMN is the full-on RS.
Only 500 will be made
Only 500 editions of the GRMN Yaris will be built, and the first cars should start to be delivered by the summer of this year. On top of the performance mods announced today, Toyota has said that the GRMN Yaris will get a dedicated aftersales performance service. Data taken from drivers and how the cars are being driven will be funnelled into future tweaks and performance upgrades. Think of it like buying into your own little racing team... Each GRMN can even be altered to each owner's personal tastes and driving style, with Toyota saying: "Each car can be tailored to the driver to evolve into a safe and easy-to-drive vehicle."
It won't be easy to buy one, though. Toyota is expecting such a clamour for places in the GRMN queue that it's going to establish a lottery system for reservations. Japanese prices start at 7,317,000 yen, which is significantly higher than the cost of the GR version. In Irish terms, it's likely to be an €80,000 model if you can get one - which you can’t officially as it’s only for the Japanese market (at least for now…).
So, what's actually different about the GRMN Yaris compared to the standard GR model? Well, for a start, it sits 10mm lower to the ground, thanks to a revised, stiffer suspension. That comes with a 10mm increase in track, which helps to drop the centre of gravity, while the body is stiffer thanks to 546 new spot welds and a whopping 12 metres of extra adhesive between major panels and structural points.
There's also a new mechanical limited slip differential, and revised gearing - lower from 1st to 4th - which should make the GRMN Yaris a little quicker to 100km/h, but Toyota hasn't confirmed any acceleration times as yet.
No extra power
What there isn't is any more power, which is a bit of a surprise. The turbocharged 1.6-litre three-cylinder engine sticks with its existing 270hp (that's the Japanese market figure - European cars get 261hp), and there's no change to the 360Nm of torque. Disappointing? A little, yes, but then again no one accused the standard GR Yaris of not being quick enough, and it's can't be easy to reliably extract such power figures from a tiny three-pot engine.
However, what's better than more power? Less weight - and the GRMN Yaris is about 20kg lighter than the GR. Toyota says that: "The GR Yaris has evolved into a car that can be driven faster and with more peace of mind, with improved braking force, grip, cornering and following performance based on feedback from professional drivers" and is part of Toyota president Akio Toyoda's plan to "deliver cars to customers that evolve quickly and can be tailored to individuals like in the field of motorsports."
Body-wise, the GRMN Yaris looks way more aggressive than the GR, with carbon fibre bonnet and roof panels, and more extreme aero add-ons. There are also new Recaro bucket seats on the inside.
Optional Rally Pack
If you want more than that, there's an optional Circuit Pack, which gives the GRMN gorgeous BBS alloy wheels, adjustable dampers supplied by motorsports specialist Bilstein (and informed by racing GR Yarises in the Japanese Super Taikyu Series), a carbon-fibre rear wing, and even more in the way of body kit. Or, and we really like the sound of this, there's a Rally Pack, which comes with underbody protection panels, a roll-bar, and a specially-tuned suspension setup, which has been developed by the lunatics who run Toyota's World Rally Championship team.
The ownership lottery opens on the TGR website today, so get cracking on that Japanese passport application.