NEWS: Toyota Yaris GRMN revealed at Geneva

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.

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10 Responses to NEWS: Toyota Yaris GRMN revealed at Geneva

  1. BlitzPig says:

    Not coming here.

    Once again Toyota proves it is the Buick of the Japanese builders,and wants to stay that way in our market.

    “So you want a fun, economical, and well built sporty car? Sorry, we don’t want to sell those, but we have this nice, boring Camry we can get you into for easy payments…”

    I think their NA corporate motto should be “Boring cars for boring people…”

    So frustrating.

    • ahja says:

      Its really not Toyota but its just the reality of the market in the US. Toyota moves few Yarises in America compared to many other markets. Why send a really expensive fancy Yaris to a market that barely buys a regular one? Its a halo hatch and produced in a limited quantity that isn’t as a moneymaker, but to enhance Toyota’s image and bolster Yaris credentials. That’s valuable in a place where a Yaris might have 20-30% market share of the most popular class of cars. Not so valuable in a place where Yaris has <10% share of an unpopular and dwindling class..

      • Matt D says:

        Because if they ever want to change their image to the American consumer and begin to make a dent in the market that Ford’s magicked out of thin air, they’ll need to give us something.

  2. Khoua says:

    Dang, I really wished these were here. Bummer! But it’s cool to see it happen at least.

  3. SHC says:

    Well, if it’s any consolation in 25 years you can legally import it. 😉

  4. Randy says:

    Slightly different take on the “Why it ain’t comin’ here:” Production capacity is low, and it’s not worth the cost to get them certified for U.S.

    I discount the bit about only 20% of Americans being able to drive a stick being a reason. Not that I’m disagreeing with that, but those who DO drive them (*ahem*), would be the ones who’d be interested in them.

    Now, certification cost obviously cuts into the profits, and due to specialized parts, what would be the sales price? I know, like, 2 people who are actually “loyal” to *A* brand, so if the cost gets too high, they’ll go elsewhere. Taking that, a $30K Yaris, versus a $30K high-performance, something-bigger (WRX? Focus ST?), I wouldn’t put my money on the Yaris… It would be for the hard-core, and if I were to bet, MOST of the customers of the WRXes, etc., really aren’t hard-core; if it rides like a buckboard wagon, it’s not fun to live with. Track car/weekend warrior/toy: Yes. Everyday car: No.

    Though I still like it, I honestly can’t say *I’d* buy one. Not for any performance/ride quality aspects, etc., but because they’re just too small inside (narrow and low top-of-windshield). I occasionally drive one, and it’s just too close…

  5. Jacob says:

    Another thing to point out, the majority of Americans don’t even know what/who Gazoo is. Or have any interest in Rally racing in general.

    I mean, sure Subaru has the WRX, but even then how many WRX owners are die-hard Rally fans?

    As cool as it would be to see here, and how much I love Toyota, I think its a good move for them to not sell it here.

  6. Gary says:

    I once had the pleasure of undertaking detailed research into strategy by Auto manufacturers.

    The globe is split into some very traditional markets (by all manufacturers) that basically places Japan and all countries down to Australia into a single market. Why – because outside of Great Britain the most number of right hand drive countries exist in that little slice of the globe. Prior to Chinese manufacture and vehicle consumption this market (Japan-Australia) was alongside only North America and then Europe. Then came South America and ‘rest of the world’. Its a model that has not shifted.

    So as a really long way to say this; when Japan designs a car its foremost application is that market.

    This is why most Japanese manufacturers had also established North American and European design centres.

    We don’t get all the goodies down under either, but being right drive certainly increases the chances we’ll see it. And I say bring it on!

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