There’s little question the 2020 Toyota GR Yaris is serious about cementing itself as a dedicated hot-hatch challenger, but does Toyota have even better things up its sleeve?
This latest development prototype, spotted testing at the Nurburgring, suggests a flagship GRMN Yaris may be on the way.
Within Toyota’s performance division there’s GR Sport models, largely devoted to handling and appearance but not performance upgrades, then the powerful GR hero models, like the GR Yaris and GR Supra.
Toyota also has a space above those for GRMN versions, literally Gazoo Racing Meister of Nurburgring (yes, really) which go even further in the pursuit of performance.
That appears to be the case here. Visually there’s some substantial differences, most obviously the massive rear wing and new vented front guards. A set of aero canards on the front bumper and round out the body changes.
Perhaps more interesting though is this particular Yaris’s lowered stance, and lightweight wheels, which although mismatched on this test car, appear to run rubber wider than the 225/40 R18 tyres under the GR Yaris.
Ultimately though, it’s not known what Toyota is testing here. Already the body modifications differ from those adapted for motorsport versions of the car seen in Japan, so a customer racing program seems less likely.
A set of GR-branded upgrade parts could be undergoing a final shakedown. With Toyota having previously hinted that a lighter and more powerful GR Yaris could be possible, there’s a strong possibility this mule might be that car.
In its current form, the 200kW/370Nm 1.6-litre three-cylinder turbo engine already boasts an impressive set of output figures, particularly alongside size rivals like the 147kW Polo GTI and Fiesta ST, with engine output figures and all-wheel drive traction pushing the GR Yaris towards hot hatches from the next class up.
With the engine already delivering a decent 123.6kW per litre there may not be too much more room to improve, (though comparatively a Mercedes-AMG A45 S is rated at 155.7kW/L), so a GRMN model could instead focus on stripping weight and further handling improvements for a more dedicated enthusiast package.
With the GR Yaris so new on the ground (in fact, yet to hit the ground in Australia) there's plenty of time on Toyota's side to develop additional variants as the market demands.