The Yaris has always been quite a tall car, so the uprated suspension is made to work harder than most to properly contain body roll. Even with all of the tuning and stiffening that has gone in, the GRMN model still feels noticeably top heavy compared with many of its rivals.

This is especially so when the car is subjected to quick changes in direction, where you can feel the body’s weight shift along its longitudinal axis before it settles on its outside wheels. There’s also little in the way of provocation needed to exceed the limits of the front tyres’ grip mid-corner.

Matt Saunders Autocar

Matt Saunders

Road test editor
Off-camber corners require some caution because they emphasise the car’s higher centre of gravity.

Not only does the firmed-up suspension struggle to cope with keeping the Toyota’s taller structure in check, but it also leaves the car with a particularly firm, uncompromising ride that isn’t supple or fluent enough to deal well with bumpier surfaces. There’s a savage side to the car’s damping that makes the axles struggle to deal with bigger, sharper inputs and makes the low-speed ride somewhat unforgiving, so you’d have to be particularly committed to the idea to use the car as your everyday driver.

As with the powertrain, the steering requires a bit of exertion to get the most out of it. The gearing is slow just off centre – quite possibly a legacy of the regular Yaris, because that would have made it feel more stable at speed – so a bit of wrestling with the wheel is necessary in order to get the car to turn in with any proper urgency. Much more, at any rate, than has become typical of the fast supermini breed. This results 
in a steering set-up that, although nicely weighted and suitably feelsome, just doesn’t seem as quick as its 2.28 turns from lock to lock suggest it should.

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Driving the Yaris GRMN hard is an endeavour that requires more forethought and commitment than most cars of its kind demand. You need to think hard about your gear selection prior to entering a corner, since you won’t be able to rely on any real low-down shove on the exit. This demands a disciplined driving style that some will embrace about the car. But it accentuates the need for heel-and-toe braking to keep the engine at its sweet spot, and the spaced-out positioning of the pedals does mean there’s a need for considerable ankle rotation to execute such a manoeuvre cleanly.

Couple this with the need to wrestle the Yaris GRMN’s nose into bends, all while being sure to keep the front tyres within their limits of grip, and the Toyota proves to be quite a challenge to drive quickly. It’s a superbly involving car, definitely. But it certainly doesn’t make life easy for you.

So despite the apparently considerable work that has gone in to making this a properly focused driver’s hot hatch, the Yaris GRMN just isn’t quite as incisive or agile in its handling as you expect it to be and it doesn’t quite work as well, on the road, as it might have.

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