YOU might never see this car on the road.

The Toyota Yaris GRMN is a limited edition performance hatchback influenced and inspired by the Yaris WRC, the car with which the company returned to the FIA World Rally Championship.

It looks sensational, riding on lightweight 17-inch alloy wheels and armed with larger brakes, a central oval tailpipe and a bespoke exterior finish that displays Toyota Gazoo Racing’s white, black and red competition colours.

Under the bonnet is a 1.8-litre engine, tuned to produce 209bhp and benefitting from a supercharger, a feature unique among B-segment performance hatchbacks.

That’s the good news, offset by the fact that only 80 examples went on sale in the UK out of a total allocation of a mere 400 across Europe.

There’s also a price to be paid for the exclusivity of that supercharged engine - at £26,295 it is considerably more expensive than the Ford Fiesta ST, but it does undercut the faster Honda Civic Type R and Renault Megane RS.

This is an important toe in the water for Toyota because it has been an age since it built a European-style hot hatch.

Developed at the Nürburgring race circuit in Germany, the GRMN gets its name from Gazoo Racing tuned by the Meister of the Nürburgring.

Driving the front wheels through a six-speed manual transmission, the Lotus-sourced engine enables 0 to 62mph acceleration in 6.3 seconds and will surge to a top speed electronically limited to 143mph.

With kerb weight kept down to just 1,135kg, the Yaris GRMN achieves the best power-to-weight ratio in its class and transfers power smoothly to the road through a Torsen limited-slip differential.

Other key differences between the GRMN and a regular Yaris are the shorter springs that take it 24mm closer to the road, dedicated suspension, disc brakes and callipers painted in signature white and visible through the slim spokes of the alloy wheels.

With a suitably rousing exhaust note, the GRMN not only looks but sounds the part.

Like its world rally counterpart, it has a three-door bodyshell that brings to the party a black, wing-type rear spoiler, bespoke rear bumper design, rear diffuser, honeycomb front grille and the aforementioned central oval exhaust tailpipe.

In simple terms, the GRMN is great fun to drive in an old-school sort of way. The genuine engine notes, manual gearbox and crisp handling make for an engaging experience.

There are no drive modes, just a standard press-and-go set-up that puts an immediate grin on your face. Accompanied by the rasping exhaust note, you cannot fail to be enamoured by the light and direct steering, short gear shifts and urgency of the supercharger.

The there’s the paint job… white with red and black flash detailing on the bonnet and sills, echoing the livery of the Toyota Yaris WRC, LED headlights and a black roof with a shark fin antenna. Yes, it looks the part too.

The cabin is equally an expression of the car’s performance focus, with front sports seats providing excellent body holding and support.

The authentic performance details include an engine start button and a small-diameter, leather-wrapped steering wheel, sourced from the Toyota GT86 coupe. There is also an aluminium sports pedal set, aluminium trim detailing and a bespoke, high-grade combimeter with TFT display, designed to reflect the car’s special performance character.

The all-black colour theme for the cabin will not be to everyone’s taste, but it does at least emphasise the sporting quality, with black leather trim for the dashboard and door trims and a black headlining.

Is this the last we see of the Yaris GRMN. Possibly. But I would like to think this is only the start of a journey for a car that not only looks appealing but will appeal to drivers looking for something a little different in the hot-hatch market.


Toyota Yaris GRMN

Price: £26,295

Engine: 1.8-litre four-cylinder supercharged patrol producing 209bhp

Transmission: Six-speed manual

Performance: 0 to 62mph in 6.4 seconds; top speed limited to 143mph

Economy: 37.7mpg combined

CO2 emissions: 170 g/km


Performance: ****

Economy: ***

Ride/Handling: ****

Space/Practicality: ***

Equipment: ****

Security/Safety: ****

Value For Money: ***