The Yaris GRMN is different from most hot hatchbacks of its size, chiefly by virtue of the fact that it has a 1.8-litre four-cylinder 2ZR-FE engine – tuned by Lotus – that is supercharged as opposed to turbocharged.
It’s a Magnuson Eaton rotor-type supercharger and intercooler system that, in conjunction with a heavy-duty fuel injection system usually found on Toyota’s V6 engines and a larger air intake, allows for peak power and torque figures of 209bhp at 6800rpm and 184lb ft at 4800rpm.
This considerable output is sent to the front wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox, as well as a Torsen limited-slip differential. Five years ago, a limited-slip diff would have been a rare sight in this class, but it’s becoming increasingly common.
At a little less than four metres in length, the Yaris GRMN is small even by supermini standards, so fitting that supercharger in the engine bay along with the 1.8-litre four-pot required the induction system to be packaged in a compact single stack unit on the front of the engine along with the cooling unit and air intake.
As with the powertrain, the Yaris’s chassis has also been subjected to extensive changes. A lateral brace across the front suspension towers provides essential strengthening and a front anti-roll bar that’s 26mm in diameter has been introduced. The MacPherson strut front and torsion beam rear suspension arrangements are fitted with Sachs Performance dampers, and shorter springs contribute to a 24mm reduction in ride height over the standard car – key to lowering the tall Yaris’s centre of gravity. Has it been lowered by enough to turn this into a really compelling driver’s car, though? We will see. Improved stopping power comes courtesy of disc brakes front and rear.
A rear spoiler, central tailpipe, rear diffuser, 17in BBS alloy wheels and garish red and black decals help complete the transformation from bog-standard Yaris to aggressive and outlandish GRMN specification.
The car comes in one colour scheme, and this is it. It’s a niche look, for sure. It’s more hardcore and overtly aggressive than other hot superminis, but it’s alluringly geeky and cultish and it clearly conveys Toyota’s desire for its performance credentials to be taken seriously.