With its debut at the Geneva Motor Show this week, we finally have news about the hopped-up Toyota Yaris GRMN. And great news — It’s going to be the full package that everyone was hoping for and potentially the most exciting hot hatch to wear the Toyota name since the Starlet. If you thought the car was going to fight a Fiesta ST, you’d be wrong. Apparently, it is going to be more even radical than that.
Toyota says output numbers are “over 210 horsepower” with some outlets even claiming 220. As expected, the powerplant of choice is still a 1.8-liter supercharged four-cylinder, so it looks like the rumors from last month are accurate.
It would all be for naught, though, if it was paired to an open differential or god forbid a CVT. Luckily, that’s not the case. A 6-speed manual transmission will send power to a Torsen limited-slip differential distributing it to 17-inch BBS wheels wrapped with Bridgestone Potenzas. Combine all of that with a chassis that is sure to be lighter than the regular 1.5-liter Yaris, and the expected 0-60 times are close to six seconds flat with a top speed north of 140 mph.
To accompany all that go fast fun, a set of brakes sourced from the much heavier Yaris Hybrid will handle stopping when entering a turn faster than the Nürburgring-tuned suspension can cope with.
If you don’t want computers to spoil the fun, an already relaxed traction control system can be turned off completely. Finally, for handling, all the fancy aerodynamics on the car are functional, providing stability at high speeds to supplement the stiff rear suspension and keep it planted.
It honestly sounds like everything we were hoping for, possibly the perfect hot hatch. Just honest, go-fast fun with no fancy gizmos like AWD or active spoilers. There is one small problem… We won’t get it here.
Nope, it’s not coming to America. While that’s mostly due to a 1,000 unit total run, there are other reasons. Only 20 percent of Americans can drive a manual transmission. The vast majority of our roads are straight lines, so we prefer a soft ride over handling. Americans like large cars and our CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards stifle a lot of performance cars.
That being said, there is a market for this type of vehicle in the United States, proof being the Ford Fiesta ST. There’s a car that’s been met with rave reviews from every American outlet and boasts outstanding sales figures. Sales of the Fiesta ST haven’t just been solid, but have outperformed Ford’s sales goals of 6 percent of total Fiesta sales in its first year. However, the ST sales have been closer to the 10 percent mark.
If Toyota brought the Yaris GRMN to America, it would slot into the lineup nicely against the Fiesta ST and Abarth 500. Given the numbers above, it would be a significantly stronger product with the added bonus of Toyota’s renowned reliability and resale value. The Yaris would also have another advantage over the Fiesta — rear visibility and interior space.
Toyota, with the regular Yaris, has one of the strongest subcompacts they’ve had in decades. Just like the ST did for the Fiesta, a GRMN Yaris in America would bestow on the rest of the line a substantial halo effect. Along with the Toyota 86, upcoming Supra and numerous V8 Lexuses, it would also help bolster its image as a serious performance car company. There was a time when Toyotas compacts and subcompacts ruled the industry, battling it out with Honda for first place. It’s about time Toyota reclaimed it’s proper place in the industry.
Images courtesy of Toyota.