The latest-generation Toyota Yaris is a sensible subcompact hatchback powered by a 1.5-liter gasoline-electric hybrid engine sending a mighty 116 hp to the front wheels. The GR Yaris is an entirely different animal as it has more than twice the output combined with all-wheel drive and a pair of Torsen limited-slip differentials.
It would seem Toyota is not done with the Gazoo Racing-badged supermini as our spies have stumbled upon an interesting prototype undergoing testing at the Nürburgring. Looking as if it was glued to the road, the pocket rocket was seemingly hiding vents under the black tape applied onto the front fenders. Judging by the license plate, the very same prototype was caught back in October 2020 when it had some wild aero upgrades, including front canards and a chunky rear wing.
Gallery: Toyota GR Yaris extreme version spy photos
The fact we have photo evidence showing Toyota is testing different body parts goes to show this GR Yaris is not a test mule for a different vehicle. Instead, it could very well be a preview of a hotter derivative, potentially the return of the Yaris GRMN. Aftermarket specialist Litchfield has taken the turbocharged 1.6-liter engine to over 300 horsepower (+43 hp) which demonstrates the three-cylinder unit has greater tuning potential Toyota might exploit for a spicy variant.
Whether a Gazoo Racing Masters of Nürburgring Yaris is on the agenda remains to be seen, and in the meantime, we're still waiting for Toyota to introduce the long-rumored GR Corolla. There are also reports speculating a hot wagon could follow, with both body styles said to use an upgraded version of the GR Yaris’ engine with nearly 300 hp on tap.
As a refresher, Toyota has vowed to launch performance versions of everything it sells, and that even includes a GR Land Cruiser unveiled earlier this year. The GR Yaris is particularly interesting when you take into consideration there's a base version in Japan with the "RS" suffix and a puny 118-hp engine linked to a CVT and front-wheel drive.