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WATCH: Toyota's incredibly fun Yaris GRMN is an exciting peak into the brand's future performance cars

2018-10-15 08:58

Sean Parker

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Image: Wheels24 / Sean Parker

Fear not, for I come bearing good news Toyota fans. The Japanese brand is on a full offensive to offer performance cars that mirror their motorsport endeavours around the world. 

Toyota has a presence in rallying, endurance racing and off-road racing. The former is the one under the spotlight as the Yaris GRMN I've been driving is infused with DNA from the Yaris WRC car. 

Er, what does GRMN stand for? 

GR is an acronym for Gazoo Racing and MN is 'Meister of the Nurburgring'. Yes, this three-door European-spec hatch was honed on at the famous German race track. 

The white car is doused in black and red decals, Gazoo Racing's colours. 

READ: Toyota used to make badass cars: Has the automaker rekindled its legendary spirit with the fiery 1.8-litre Yaris GRMN hot hatch?

How much power does it have, bru? 

A decent amount, nestled in the engine bay is a 1.8-litre supercharged four-cylinder power unit churning out 156kW and 250Nm. 

And when it comes to the other important numbers like 0-100km/h and top speed, the feisty GRMN barks out a respectable 6.3 seconds and scrambles to a limited top speed of 230km/h. 

What else does the diminutive hatch have up its sleeve? 

In true boy racer style, the Yaris has been dropped by 24mm by virtue of shorter springs, its 17" black BBS wheels are shod with Bridgestone Potenza rubber and it has bigger brakes. 

A massive rear wing, central exhaust, black grille and a smattering of GRMN badges. Last but not least, it possesses a Torsen limited slip differential which helps keep things tidy with the front wheels. 

But most importantly, what's this little bugger like to drive? 

This little gremlin is all about the essence of motoring. Drive it with the enthusiasm of a Vegas UFC crowd and the little car responds begging for more. 

The six-speed manual offers slick changes and the engine implores to be revved above 5000 r/min. Driving the GRMN becomes an emotive experience when you revel in the feedback from the thinly-rimmed steering wheel. 

Release the clutch quickly enough and you'll get an audible chirrup from the front wheels as the Yaris pulls strongly towards the redline. 

When it comes to cornering, there's enough power to leave the 'box in the third gear and power through some sweeping bends. Its direct, heavy steering may put some off, but a true enthusiast who loves driving will love it. 

A blast up and down Franschhoek Pass and over Helshoogte in the Western Cape had me gleaming like the Grinch who stole Christmas. 

Because it's quite low and runs on low profile rubber, ride comfort can be uncomfortable on bad roads. It certainly ain't soaking up bumps. 

The good news and the bad news 

The Yaris GRMN isn't for sale in Mzansi, the three cars (of 400 in the world) in the country are being used for marketing purposes.

The good news is that if this is what we can expect from Toyota's performance arm then there can be no doubt that Toyota is well on its way to creating another legion of fans who swoon over RSi-badged 'Toys'. 

With the mountain of positive feedback the automaker has received from the trio of cars in the country, let's hope a hotter version of the Yaris reaches our shores soon. 

*Toyota SA told Wheels24 that the new Supra will arrive in the middle of 2019. 

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