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Toyota Yaris GR Sport test drive

Toyota has introduced GR Sport to the Yaris in an effort to capture some of the GRMN hot hatch magic, but it leaves a lot to be desired.

Remember the limited-run Toyota Yaris GRMN of last year? That hot hatch took critics and enthusiasts by storm and was praised for launching the GRMN brand on an impressively high note — boasting a delicious 1.8-litre supercharged engine, incredible driving dynamics and a racy appearance to match.

Well, this is not that car. As is the way with many high-performance halo models, Toyota is aiming to capitalise on that success with a more pedestrian model that takes some inspiration from the Yaris GRMN hot hatch.

This is such a car — the Yaris GR Sport. Can it make waves in the sporty-ish hatch segment in the same way its full-blown sibling did in the heavyweight class?

What’s new about the Toyota Yaris GR Sport?

While the Yaris GRMN was a comprehensive project that required a major reworking of the original car’s underpinnings and tons of development time to perfect, the Yaris GR Sport is a lot more conventional.

What you’re looking at here is effectively a Yaris Hybrid with some go faster bits. At first glance, you may notice the addition of black-painted trim pieces, GR badging and lower ride height to give it that all-important racy look. What you probably won’t pick up immediately is the Sachs dampers lifted from the GRMN, as well as Bridgestone Potenza RE50 rubber also sourced from the hot hatch.

How does it look?

The attempts to make this look racier are worthwhile, though. New to the car are a number of black-painted, model-specific highlights, 17-inch black alloy wheels and a 1cm ride height drop, which gives it a more aggressive stance.

It’s at least effective at looking like a baby GRMN. Even at a standstill, it looks like it’s ready to be flung around a series of corners to exploit the grip of those sticky tyres — and that’s something every pseudo-hot hatch should try and emulate. Although other colours are available, we’d stick with the white finish for the ultimate GRMN emulation.

What’s the spec like?

Positioned at the top of the regular Toyota Yaris range, the GR Sport comes with a generous helping of equipment. As well as all the racier chassis and visual additions, it features cruise control, rain-sensing wipers, a rear-view camera, front parking sensors and Toyota’s Touch 2 infotainment system.

There’s also a decent helping of safety equipment — with pre-collision assist, lane departure warning, automatic high beam and road sign recognition all included at no extra cost.

While that may look a respectable amount of kit, it still makes the price of the car hard to justify — the GR Sport starts at £19,835. That’s about the same starting price as a Ford Fiesta ST — a proper hot hatch — and more than £1,000 over the list price of a more engaging and better equipped Suzuki Swift Sport.

Further still, the GRMN itself can still be picked up from dealers for as little as around £23,000 with delivery miles – which is a more tempting upgrade if you take monthly payments into account.

Continued on next page: Interior, driving impressions and our verdict

Ryan Hirons
Ryan Hirons
Articles by Ryan Hirons are provided for The Car Expert by PA Media (formerly the Press Association). They include test drives of the latest new cars and features on various aspects of automotive life.
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