A Worthy Hot Hatch? Toyota Yaris GRMN First Drive


That’s right, Toyota has made a hot hatch. No really, they have. If you ignore the GT86, the Japanese brand offers a sensible line of cars, so this new addition has taken the motoring world by surprise. A bigger surprise though, is its cost. It’s over £26,000, which is a fair whack for a car of its size. What’s worse still, only 400 were made available in the UK and they’ve sold out.

Sold out? Already?

Either Toyota found 400 people with more money than sense, or this car is something a bit special. Well for starters, you’ll find no turbocharger lurking underneath its racy body. No, in fact, Toyota has gone down the supercharger route. This means you get a power output of 209bhp from its 1.8 litre petrol engine. Couple that with 250Nm of torque and you’ll find yourself hitting 62mph in 6.3 seconds before topping out at a top speed 143mph.

Toyota Yaris GRMN First Drive
This Yaris certainly looks like it means business…

That’s pretty impressive stuff, but is it able to live up to its inflated price tag? I had a quick spin in said car at the Millbrook Proving Ground to find out. First impressions were good; the front sports seats appear to ripped straight out of a bona fide race car, offering a fantastic driving position. To look at, they look as comfortable as falling out of a tree, but in fact they’re rather pleasant to sit in. Not sure how they’d fare on a long journey, however…

Satisfaction, achieved

The next satisfying thing I encountered was the clutch pedal. With a delicious weight and plenty of feel, I had high expectations of this car. Right, time to fire it up. “Boy, that’s a nice noise I thought to myself”. Slotting the car in to first gear gave me some impression of what it would be like to load a rifle. It’s all these little things that soon led me to believe this wasn’t going to disappoint.

After just a few yards my beliefs were confirmed. Thanks to that supercharger, the Yaris GRMN – seriously needs a better name – takes off like a rat up a drainpipe and feels seriously quick. The steering feels bang on, and like the car it’s very satisfying to use. As I start to thread this Yaris through corners, it soon feels like I’m driving a car that was more intended for track rather than the road.

That’s not to say it’s a bone shaker, although the ride is as firm as you would expect from a car such as this. The pedals offer a nice weight, with good spacing, meaning that you heel and toe this car with little issues. The 6-speed manual snicks in to place beautifully, and overall you can tell that Toyota has put a lot of thought in to this car. Well, almost.

Sublime and bonkers in equal measure

The price is still bonkers if you ask me, and the decision to bring just 80 models to the UK is equally bonkers. Other than a few cheap buttons in the cabin, I was blown away by the GRMN. It ticks all the hot hatch boxes, and I couldn’t think of one driving aspect I want to change. Lower the price and put it in to a higher production run and you’ll have a car that can genuinely take on the best in class.

Is it a worthy hot hatch? Hell yes! Is it worthy of the price though? Hmm…no, but I can see how Toyota has been able to sell out already. Put simply, the Yaris GRMN is an amazing small hot hatchback. It just needs a better name…

Toyota Yaris GRMN First Drive


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