New Toyota Yaris GRMN hot hatch set for Geneva
By John Mcllroy
Official pictures show new hot Toyota Yaris GRMN that will debut at Geneva Motor Show
Toyota’s high-performance Yaris has been confirmed for a Geneva debut, and will be called the Yaris GRMN (standing for GAZOO Racing Masters of Nurburgring). The Yaris GRMN is the firm’s first hot hatchback for more than a decade and will boast more than 205bhp.
It will also be the only car in its class to use a supercharger rather than a turbocharger, and will feature a 1.8-litre petrol engine. That means the Yaris will trump most of its hot supermini rivals for power, including the standard Ford Fiesta ST and Peugeot’s 208 GTI by Peugeot Sport.
The car (plans for which were first revealed by Auto Express last October) will make its public debut at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show in March. The hot Yaris is designed to coincide with the firm’s return to the World Rally Championship with its Yaris WRC.
The images reveal that it’s based on a three-door model of a facelifted version of the regular Yaris that will appear at the same time. The hot Yaris gets aggressive front and rear bumpers, side graphics in the colours of the new rally team and, most noticeably, a large spoiler mounted at the rear edge of the roofline.
Toyota has reorganised its performance car engineering set-up in preparation for the hot Yaris, switching the man responsible for the GT 86 sports car to its GAZOO Racing sub-brand, which will oversee development.
In a statement issued on 14 December, Toyota announced that its Motorsport Unit Development and Sports Vehicle Management Divisions would merge into a Toyota GAZOO Racing Development Division. The move, Toyota says, is designed “to speed up development of the mass-production of sporty vehicles, as well as to facilitate knowledge feedback from racing car component development to mass-production vehicles”.
Significantly, Tetsuya Tada, who led the project to develop the ultra-agile rear-drive GT 86 sports car, recently moved from general manager of the Sports Vehicle Management Division to become chief engineer at the new GAZOO department.
The switch is backs up statements from Toyota insiders who have said that the Yaris hot hatchback will need to be a “genuine” performance car if the GAZOO sub-brand is to start to gain global credibility.
Previously a Japan-only motorsport enterprise, GAZOO was launched in Europe at the 2016 Paris Motor Show. The division has already experimented with the Yaris; it has prepared a couple of concepts over the past few years, and one of them featured a 180bhp turbocharged engine.
Toyota’s European boss Johan Van Zyl told us late last year, “We want to create a global feel for motorsport and GAZOO stands for us wanting to learning from motorsport, and for developing excitement around cars. If you love cars, they shouldn’t just be for getting from A to B.”
He added, ““It’s no use doing motorsport if you can’t reflect it in your product. What you’ll see is that we want to totally integrate it into our offering. From the European side we would like to do something – to bring something to market that will reflect our participation in WRC.
“I am also being a car person so I like to see that the people can really experience the joy of that – especially those who are real enthusiasts,” he added. “Lots of people like to wear the same Nikes as the athletes, even though they can’t run as fast.”