Toyota Yaris GRMN

The mention of RSi and TRD used to make Toyota fans hot and sweaty, and now GR are the letters that will in future signify sporty Toyotas.

The letters reference Toyota's Gazoo Racing motorsport division which among others competes in the Dakar Rally (in the Hilux driven by our own Giniel de Villiers) and the World Endurance Championship. Under the Gazoo Racing banner Toyota also returned to the FIA World Rally Championship this year with a Yaris.

Road cars from the sub-brand will fall into one of three performance categories, the top one being GRMN which stands for Gazoo Racing Masters of Nürburgring. These will be limited-edition cars featuring the biggest upgrades, including tuned engines. The first is the rally-inspired Yaris GRMN (seen here) which comes with a 1.8-litre supercharged petrol engine delivering around 157kW. The car is also fitted with sport-tuned suspension and 17-inch BBS wheels wearing 205/45R17 Bridgestone Potenza tyres.

Under the brand name GR, the Japanese auto giant unveiled seven cars remodeled as sports editions, including the Yaris and the Prius which reach Toyota’s retail outlets in Japan this week.

The main target of the new brand is younger customers, who are often said to have lost their passion for driving their own cars, Gazoo Racing President Shigeki Tomoyama said in launching the GR brand.

The GR and GRMN models will initially be focussed on the Japanese market and selected European countries. Toyota South Africa spokesperson Riaan Esterhuysen said there are no immediate plans for local introduction of these derivatives but this can change in the not so distant future.

We hope it doesn't take too long. Aside from the two-seater 86 coupé there's not too much for enthusiast drivers in Toyota's local line up, and the last 'hottish' hatch it offered was the home home-bred 133kW Auris TRD back in 2012.