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Toyota Yaris GRMN and i-Tril concept revealed

Yaris goes sporty while i-Tril looks to the future

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Toyota unveiled a hot hatch version of the Yaris and an autonomous commuter concept vehicle at the Geneva motor show earlier this month.

The two vehicles targeted very different automotive environments, which epitomises the issues facing manufacturers as they look towards the future of motoring. One is a performance model designed to appeal to the driving enthusiast, while the other is a vision of what the future holds for car owners with limited interest in actually driving their vehicles.

Toyota Yaris GRMN

The new Toyota Yaris GRMN has been released to coincide with Toyota’s return to the World Rally Championship (WRC) after a 17-year break. The Yaris’ white paint finish with red and black detailing is designed to reflect the livery of the WRC car.

GRMN stands for “Gazoo Racing, Masters of the Nürburgring”. it may not be that catchy, but it signals the brand’s intentions for the hotted-up Yaris.

The Yaris GRMN features a new supercharged 1.8-litre engine producing over 205hp, which is paired with a six-speed manual transmission. That should see it outperform rivals like the Volkswagen Polo GTI or Renault Clio RS, at least in a straight line. And with a title that includes “Masters of the Nürburgring”, it will hopefully go around corners equally effectively.

Toyota’s European team were responsible for developing the new Yaris’ engine and designing the interior, while the chassis and braking system were developed by their Japanese counterparts. The car will be produced in Valenciennes, France.

A reinforced chassis and additional bracing are accompanied by shorter springs, dedicated shock absorbers and upgraded brakes. The Yaris’ suspension was tuned and tested on Nürburgring’s Nordschleife, as you’d expect with that name.

The new Yaris GRMN is offered exclusively as a three-door, unlike the rest of the freshly-updated Yaris range. It comes with 17-inch alloy wheels and a bespoke rear spoiler as standard. Dedicated front and rear bumper designs, a rear diffuser and a centre exhaust give further clues to the car’s sporting intent.

Inside, the front sport seats are joined by a leather-wrapped steering wheel and aluminium sports pedal set.

The new Yaris is the first GRMN model to be marketed in Europe, although they have previously been sold in Japan. The Yaris GRMN will be on sale in the UK from early 2018.

i-Tril Concept

Toyota showed off the i-Tril concept at the Geneva Motor Show alongside the new Yaris GRMN.

Toyota intends the i-Tril Concept to be a viable alternative to city cars, other all-electric models and motorcycles.

An electric motor housed in the axle unit powers the i-Tril, while it’s four-metre turning circle makes it suited to urban streets.

The i-Tril weighs just 600kg and has a tapered shape – the tracks of the 19-inch front wheels are 1,200mm, while the tracks of the 20-inch back wheels are 600mm.

The i-Tril features Active Lean technology, which Toyota has previously shown on the i-Road concept three years ago. A hinge between the rear axle and the cabin, allows the body and front tyre to lean, while the powered rear wheels remain perpendicular to the road surface. When the i-Tril is in autonomous mode and approaching a corner, a display panel alerts the occupants as to which way the cabin is about to lean.

The front wheels and wings are separate from the main body of the i-Tril. The butterfly-opening doors are hinged on a slope, giving easy access to the driver and passengers. Toyota insists that it is still possible to open the doors within a regular parking space.

As the doors open they remove a section of the floor, creating a smaller footprint. The front seat can swivel 20 degrees for easy access, whilst the front seat headrest is fixed to the roof and pivots down when the vehicle is switched on.

Toyota intends the i-Tril to be capable of operating fully autonomously, and is targeting a range of more than 185 miles between charges.

The i-Tril has no pedals and is instead operated by left and right-hand control nodes that work in a similar manner to a computer joystick or mouse. Steering, acceleration and braking are all controlled electrically via a drive-by-wire system. The multimedia and infotainment systems are voice controlled. The resulting interior layout is very minimalistic in design, with most of the traditional control points eliminated.

The i-Tril has a one-plus-two seating layout, much like a McLaren F1 supercar from the 1990s. The driver is positioned up front in the centre of the car, while the rear of the cabin accommodates a two-seater bench.

Toyota describes the i-Tril concept as “a snapshot of the kind of vehicle we might expect to see on city streets in the 2030s”.

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Katharine Morgan
Katharine Morgan
Katharine was a contributor to both The Car Expert and The Van Expert, and is now Motorsport & Automotive Press Officer for Goodwood.