The Toyota Yaris GRMN is a car that we will probably never get here - especially seeing as how we don't even get the European Yaris model in our region. It popped up somewhere in the middle of last year, being Toyota's first attempt at producing a publicly-sold GRMN performance model. For those who aren't familiar, it comes with a 205-hp supercharged 1.8-litre engine, a 6-speed manual gearbox with a torsen LSD sending power only to the front wheels, 4-pot front brakes, and a high-end suspension setup - in other words, it's a hot hatch, through and through.
Can you buy one of these? No, not unless you have very special grey-import links. The first problem is already mentioned - they're not even sold outside of Europe and Japan - and the second is the 600-unit limited production run with all units accounted for within 72 hours of opening for booking. It's also not cheap either, costing more than a Golf GTI over in the UK. But the low production run isn't for lack of demand - quite the opposite - but rather that Toyota has only allocated one shift, on one production line, in one factory in the world.
The Yaris GRMN is based on the regular 3-door Yaris body, which meant it could be produced in the same Toyota factory in Valenciennes, France. Because the production run was such a low volume, and while Toyota is moving back into the fun-to-drive car market they are still sticklers for efficiency, only 20 technicians were trained to assemble the Yaris GRMN with its bespoke parts and components.
Thankfully, the factory doesn't have to manufacture the engine required for the Yaris (as this would be a cost and efficiency nightmare). The engines come from Toyota Manufacturing UK, stopping over at the Lotus factory for some modifications, before being assembled in France. Fitting the 1.8-litre engine in the Yaris alone isn't easy given its larger size than the standard engines, and both the engine's ancillaries and factory equipment had to be modified to reduce the risk of contact during engine installation.
Beyond the training and the re-tooling (to a certain extent), Toyota also had to set specific quality control processes for the Yaris GRMN. The normal paintwork quality control process didn't accomodate its contrasting black roof, and the standard 'shakedown' test after rolling off the assembly line also had to be made more aggressive to account for the additional performance of the engine, suspension, and brakes.
The result of all of this work and effort is a car that hopefully paves the way for many more performance Toyota models to come. While the Yaris GRMN is out of reach for most, if not all, of us, it is proof of concept. The Yaris GRMN is produced at a rate of 7 units a day, which is infuriatingly slow and no doubt has left many owners on a long waiting list, but perhaps the next GRMN model will see a couple more shifts and production lines allocated to it.