When I first heard of the Yaris GRMN I thought it was a special edition, a collaboration with Garmin. Turns out I was very wrong.
Naturally as soon as I read past the headline that this was not a sat nav collab, but a fire breathing Jap hot hatch weapon the likes we haven’t seen for what feels like an eternity from Toyota.
Recently at SMMT I got my hands on one, albeit for 10 minutes.
Firing up the GRMN you instantly know this is something special. The rumble you get from that rear central exit exhaust makes you feel as though you’re in a 50% scale rally car.
A quick prod of the throttle and the sporting prowess is confirmed, it revs freely, very freely.
Heading out onto the hill route the tyres are a little cold, I’ve been warned to take it on the easier side until they get some heat in them.
Snatching at the gears I heel and toe down to second. Plant my right foot and get pushed back into the deeply bucketed GRMN emblazoned seats.
Nudging into the first corner and you can feel how light this feels, it’s certainly bantamweight. My senses prickle with the thought of old school hot hatches, is this really as good as my 182 Clio Trophy, or as fun as the epic 106 GTi?
Accelerating on the cold tyres means the diff has to work overtime as it spins up. Wheel snapping to one side I wrestle it back to the line I’ve chosen. It wants to push wide when you take a corner at speed, no doubt down to the chilly rubber and slightly damp conditions.
Over the next two laps the blistering pace and roarty soundtrack bring back my faith in manufacturers following the perfect hot hatch recipe:
- Spot on handling
Oh, and big seats.
Externally the Yaris GRMN looks like a total tarmac weapon. Black alloys matched with a bold red and black Gazoo Racing graphic package. Rumour has it there’s only one UK punter that opted to go without the graphics, that will be a real sleeper.
At the back there’s some smart LED lights, a gloss black rear spoiler and deep rear diffuser. It may be subtle but it packs enough of a punch on the road.
If you’re wondering what GRMN stands for, its Gazoo Racing Masters of Nurburgring.
Hopefully we’ll get our hands on one in the future for a proper in depth review.