The new Toyota Yaris GRMN hot hatch is set to be the first of a range of special sporty models from the Japanese brand's Gazoo Racing offshoot.
The Yaris GRMN is powered by a 1.8-litre supercharged four-cylinder petrol, with a six-speed manual sending power to the front wheels by way of a Torsen limited slip differential. Supercharged? Yeah, you read that correctly: the company hasn't offered a turbocharged engine because, according to Tada-san, it doesn't fit.
"There are many reasons to use a supercharger, but just for Yaris it’s only a limitation of the engine compartment,” he said. “A supercharger doesn’t require as much room as a turbocharger." That's intriguing, because the previous Yaris GRMN model from Toyota back in 2013 was turbocharged, albeit with a measly 112kW of power.
The new GRMN has "more than 210 horsepower", or more than 155kW, making it more powerful than the Volkswagen Polo GTI (141kW), Ford Fiesta ST (134kW), Toyota 86 (147kW), and Ford Fiesta ST (147kW in its new-generation guise), but just shy of the Renault Clio RS220 (164kW). The company says the Yaris GRMN offers "best-in-class times both for the sprint from 0-100 km/h and acceleration from 80-120 km/h in fourth gear".
"We tried to pursue the engine and throttle response, not so much focus on high power – that is why we used the supercharger. When you have a chance to drive that car, you will understand why," he said.
That could be an impossibility for anyone from Australia, because the company's local arm has ruled out offering the new model, which Toyota claims is the fastest accelerating hatch in the class - "a fraction over six seconds" is the word, according to Toyota Motor Europe president and CEO Dr Johan Van Zyl.
The manual-only hatchback is a driver's car, according to Tada-san, who said that he "thinks an automatic makes no sense" in a car like this. He said that "if the customer requests it, if there is demand", then maybe an automatic version would be considered. And there won't be many sold, as only 100 per country will be built, and only three countries came to mind when we asked where it would be sold.
"Production for the GRMN, this one is always limited – 100 units per country. So far Japan, Germany and France," Tada-san said.
But what about other GRMN models? It seems possible that the brand could work on a Corolla, with the small hatchback class remaining one of the most popular segments for that type of derivative, but Tada-san said there are some challenges there.
"There are so many types of Corolla in the world," he said. "Each country has their own regulations, that makes it difficult.
"I really understand the Australian market situation," he said, before going on to suggest that the Sportivo nameplate "was a very good brand" for a quicker Corolla.
Not so difficult would be the Toyota C-HR, the brand's new high-riding small SUV, which is sold identically in markets around the world. Tada-san didn't say much when asked, but his grin said a lot.
"Oh, sounds nice," he chuckled.
And of course, there's got to be potential for a hotter hachi-roku, right?
"Oh yes, sure sure," he said of GRMN version of the Toyota 86, which could even have more power than the standard car along with chassis tweaks. "The 86 also – we are preparing."