The GRMN, served warm

The Toyota Yaris GR Sport is the more down-to-Earth version of the limited-run GRMN. It features some sporty styling, but much of the oomph of the GRMN is gone, akin to a sheep in wolf’s clothes.

Last year, at the Geneva Motor Show, Toyota unveiled the Yaris GRMN hot hatchback to the world. A run of only 600 units was slated for 2018 for the car that was inspired by the Yaris WRC but, confusingly, presented itself with GRMN logos all round. GRMN stands for Gazoo Racing Masters of the Nurburgring – so not really related to rallying. In any case, the 209-horsepower pocket rocket was fun to drive and powerful enough to excite.

Now, a year later, Toyota brought to the Paris Motor Show a GRMN for the masses: the Yaris GR Sport. It’s based off the hybrid Yaris, so the figures are, frankly, negligible, but you do get great economy. What is more, the car comes in the usual Gazoo Racing white with red and black inserts and black wheels. It isn’t a hot hatch, but it’s sort of a stepping stone, a ”warm hatch.”

Keep reading to learn more about the Toyota Yaris GR Sport.

Who can recall the days when each brand had one performance sub-brand and one only? Back when Mercedes had AMG and BMW had the M division, Audi had the RS cars while Nissan had Nismo. Nowadays, everything is too convoluted. Each manufacturer has a performance brand and then a number of styling packs or trim levels that mimic the looks of the ’real deal.’ Now there’s the AMG line, Audi’s been going for years with the S-line, Hyundai has the N-line, and BMW has the M Sport package.

It’s, then, natural that Toyota decided to have something under its GRMN performance brand, whose treatment was received by the GT86 and the Yaris.

This is what the Gazoo Racing Sport or GR Sport models are. They look like they mean business, but, in reality, they only feature some minor mechanical improvements and some more meaningful visual changes like those black rims on the Yaris – everyone associates those with sportiness, right?


2019 Toyota Yaris GR Sport
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The front end of the GR Sport is dominated, as with any Yaris, by the massive front grille. On this model, however, there’s a red stripe on the lip of the front bumper as well as some black inserts around the fog lights. The day-time lights form a Y which is a nice touch that’s kept for the GR Sport, whilst the interior of the headlight itself being black. Otherwise, the front end is basically identical to that of any other Yaris since Toyota didn’t add any of the stripings that we see on the GRMN.

The side profile is dominated by the 17-inch 10-spoke wheels which make the car look a lot bolder.

Indeed, the car sits quarter-of-an-inch lower than the standard model and the gap between the wheel arch, and the tire itself has also been reduced by 0.7 inches.

There are also some black add-ons towards the bottom edge of the doors, but the wheel arches themselves aren’t widened as such. The roof itself is also blacked out, and there are piano black door moldings. The exterior rear-view mirrors are painted in the same color. It’s worth pointing out that the Yaris GR Sport will only be available (as early as the end of the year) in five-door format. And here I thought that fewer doors meant sporty, not more.

The rear end is remarkably unchanged, other than the addition of a spoiler on top of the trunk. There’s also some Gazoo Racing badging on the trunk and some more subtle red bordering on the lower edge of the rear bumper. The boomerang-shaped taillights are unchanged although the Toyota logo on at the back is on a black background on the GR Sport.

2019 Toyota Yaris GR Sport Exterior Dimensions

Height 59 in
Length 155.3 in
Width 66.7 in


2019 Toyota Yaris GR Sport
- image 798518

The basic front seats are out from the GR Sport, Toyota fitting in their place some GR-badged sports seats with improved side support, upholstered in black Ultrasuede with contrast white stitching and white inserts. The three-spoke steering wheel is borrowed from the GT86 Coupe while the black headlining and satin chrome trim for the gear shifter and the air vent and door-mounted audio speaker surrounds completely the GR-esque look. Some might say this all looks cheap while others will say it’s overbranding, but Toyota had to individualize the GR Sport somehow, right?

Now, in terms of functionality, everything is where you’d expect it to be in a Yaris.

The two air vents sit atop the dashboard while, below, you’ll find the infotainment screen that dominates the center stack. Underneath, there is the radio. When you press the start button, the multi-information TFT display behind the steering wheel glows red as it comes to life with the GR logo the first thing you see. Your feet also will also settle on GR-branded carpets. Yes, it’s the same M invasion you’ll have to force yourself to ignore inside a modern BMW, only instead of the letter M, you’ll have to deal with two letters: GR.


2019 Toyota Yaris GR Sport
- image 798523

The GR Sport is powered by an unchanged 1.5-liter hybrid engine which develops 99-horsepower.

That’s some 110-horsepower down on the GRMN but, at least, you get the same Bridgestone Potenza RE50 tires.

The in-line four-pot is good enough for 81.8 pound-feet of torque, but what matters is that it will average over 60 mpg. Does that out-weight the fact that the car will reach 62 mph in 11.8 seconds and has a top speed of only 102 mph?

But, Toyota did give something away from the GRMN’s spirit. The GR Sport has Sachs Performance shock absorbers and an anti-roll bar while the suspension has also been stiffened-up. The car should, in theory, handle better due to improved shocks and suspension, as well as bigger wheels and grippier tires, so it should be fun to drive, only don’t expect much to happen when you floor it. The gearbox is also the same CVT unit.


Toyota did not reveal how much it will ask for the GR Sport. However it may be, they must make it cheap, otherwise few will sell. I mean, the price of a basic Yaris Hybrid in Europe is around $23,500, but it can exceed $26,000. That’s a lot of money for barely 100 ponies and some exterior tweaks.

For that kind of money, you could pop to a Ford dealer and get yourself a Fiesta ST which has 200-horsepower and actually tries to be a hot hatch, not just remind you of one through its appearance.


Peugeot 208 GT-Line

2017 Peugeot 208 Active Design High Resolution Exterior
- image 684177

The 208 GT-Line is the GTI turned down a notch. It comes with a 1.2-liter gas engine capable of 108-horsepower that get on the asphalt via a 6-speed automatic transmission. It also has 17-inch wheels and sporty styling.

It is arguably a better-looking car than the Toyota, and it has 10-horsepower more. Also, it has five doors.

Read our full review on the 2018 Peugeot 208 GT-Line

Volkswagen Polo GT

2018 Volkswagen Polo High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 720714

You’ll get a bunch of logos and even some decals to remind you what car you have in your garage if you buy a Polo GT. It comes with rear doors and all the infotainment you can get for the money.

The choice is between a 1.2-liter gas engine that produces 105-horsepower and 129 pound-feet of torque and a 1.5-liter diesel engine which has 5 extra horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. The downside is a poorer fuel economy off with the diesel engine boasting just 47 mpg.

Read our full review on the 2018 Volkswagen Polo GT


2019 Toyota Yaris GR Sport
- image 798522

The Yaris GR Sport is for the person who wants to have the hybrid Yaris but with some sporty credentials attached. It will probably handle better than any Yaris other than the GRMN, but you can get a Peugeot GTI or a Fiesta ST for the same money. Both look better and offer vastly superior performance. You won’t get the same fuel mileage as you get from the hybrid but, at the end of the day, you have to make a choice between efficiency and performance.

  • Leave it
    • Expensive for what it offers
    • Only 102-horsepower
    • Only available in Europe

Further reading

2017 Toyota Yaris Demonstrates How Auto Turnover Is Speeding Up High Resolution Exterior
- image 708801

Read our full review on the 2017 Toyota Yaris.

Gather Round Hot-Hatch Fans, Toyota Will Unveil a 210-HP Yaris Soon High Resolution Exterior
- image 701697

Read our full review on the 2018 Toyota Yaris GRMN.

Michael Fira
Michael Fira
Associate Editor and Motorsport Expert -
Mihai Fira started out writing about long-distance racing like the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans. As the years went by, his area of interest grew wider and wider and he ever branched beyond the usual confines of an automotive writer. However, his heart is still close to anything car-related and he's most at home retelling the story of some long-since-forgotten moment from the history of auto racing. He'll also take time to explain why the cars of the '60s and '70s are more fascinating than anything on the road today.  Read full bio
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