Gazoo Racing’s alternative and old-school formula for a hot supermini, applied to a car as ill-suited to the purpose as the Yaris, hasn’t resulted in the most effective of performance hatchbacks – but there’s still plenty on which to commend this feral little car.
That supercharged engine is unique in the segment and the requirement to work it hard goes a long way towards making this one of the more rewarding driving experiences in this class. There’s character in spades, thanks to its genuine eagerness to rev and an addictive soundtrack. And it makes the Yaris GRMN a properly quick hot hatch.
Given Toyota’s apparent intention to pitch this as a car that puts its driving experience above everything else – think no-frills interior and aggressive exterior – it’s a pity that the chassis isn’t as responsive or rewarding as that powertrain. The Yaris GRMN is certainly an involving car to drive quickly, but next to rivals that are sharper, keener and ultimately more composed – not to mention cheaper – it falls short in key areas.
As a statement of intent for Gazoo Racing’s future models, however, it’s highly promising.