• What Is This Weirdly Aggressive Toyota Yaris Doing on the Nurburging?

Is this the Toyota GRMN Yaris you’ve been dreaming about?

Toyota joined the subcompact hot-hatchback segment in 2017 with the Yaris GRMN. Powered by a Lotus-sourced engine and developed by the company’s Gazoo Racing division, the Yaris GRMN enabled Toyota to compete with popular hot-hatches like the Volkswagen Polo and Ford Fiesta ST. Come 2020 and Toyota unveiled a new performance model, this time around based on the brand-new, fourth-generation Yaris. It’s called the GR Yaris and comes with 257 horsepower on tap. That’s mighty impressive, but a new video suggests that Toyota is testing an even more hardcore version of the hatchback.

Is this a new high-performance Toyota Yaris?

At first glance, this beefed-up Yaris looks identical to the familiar GR model. But look close enough, and you'll notice new canards attached to the front bumper and a notably bigger wing atop the tailgate.

These upgrades suggest improvement to the aerodynamics, but they’re also the result of a more powerful drivetrain. This can only mean one thing: we’re looking at the upcoming GRMN Yaris. While also developed by Gazoo Racing, this model is being developed under Gazoo Racing Masters of the Nurburgring, which means more power, better performance, and more race-inspired parts.

How powerful is the Toyota GRMN Yaris?

What Is This Weirdly Aggressive Toyota Yaris Doing on the Nurburging?
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Power figures for this upcoming model are still a mystery, but it’s safe to assume that it will pack more punch than the GR Yaris. The latter features a new, 1.6-liter three-cylinder engine fitted with a single-scroll turbocharger and motorsport technology like multi-oil jet piston cooling, large-diameter exhaust valves, and part-machined intake port. The unit is rated at an impressive 257 horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque. That’s a solid 48 horses and 85 pound-feet more than the old Yaris GRMN.

The GR Yaris already trumps direct competition.

It delivers 60 horsepower more than the Volkswagen Polo GTI and the Ford Fiesta ST. The new Hyundai i20 N is no match either at 201 horsepower.

The GRMN Yaris should have more oomph at its disposal, but don’t expect huge improvements. This evolution is mostly about aerodynamics and agility on the race track. The same turbocharged, 1.6-liter three-pot should power the GRMN Yaris, but output should blow past the 280-horsepower mark. There’s also the possibility that engine output remains unchanged, which wouldn’t be a big thing since the GR Yaris is already more powerful than bigger hatchbacks with four-cylinder engines.

So what is Toyota trying to achieve here?

What Is This Weirdly Aggressive Toyota Yaris Doing on the Nurburging?
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Well, Toyota is looking to expand its presence into many high-performance segments with GRMN versions of the Yaris, Corolla, and Supra. The GRMN is also the result of the company’s efforts in the World Rally Championship, where it narrowly missed the title in 2019, and it’s again running neck and neck with Hyundai for the crown in 2020. The GR Yaris has already blown its competitors to bits in terms of horsepower and speed, and Toyota is probably aiming to deliver the most track-capable subcompact hatchback too. A Nurburgring record might be coming too.

Ciprian Florea
Ciprian Florea
Senior Editor and Supercar Expert - ciprian@topspeed.com
Ciprian's passion for everything with four wheels (and more) started back when he was just a little boy, and the Lamborghini Countach was still the coolest car poster you could hang on your wall. Ciprian's career as a journalist began long before earning a Bachelor's degree, but it was only after graduating that his love for cars became a profession.  Read full bio
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