The GR Yaris is already great. Litchfield thinks it can get better…
By Sam Sheehan / Tuesday, January 12, 2021 / Loading comments
At launch, Toyota's engineers told PH that JDM tuners were already attacking the GR Yaris with glee. Now it's Europe's turn. First out of the announcement gate is Litchfield, which has confirmed development of aftermarket parts just two months after its launch. The tuner hasn’t relied on digital drawings and simulations to develop a new suspension kit and proposed ECU alterations either, having bagged itself a head start on rivals by actually buying two GRs to work on. It said nothing else would do for a car that’s earned customer anticipation beyond anything it's encountered since the Mk3 Ford Focus RS.
In a bid to improve the GR’s ride and close its arch gaps, Litchfield has been working with renowned UK suspension maker Nitron to create a custom coilover kit for the Yaris. The new setup has three-way adjustment “for maximum capability”, but Litchfield has also developed a two-way kit with Nitron that “locks-in” the basic, most-optimised in-house settings at a lower starting price. Whether a buyer goes for the top level or entry Nitron hardware, the configuration is said to improve the GR Yaris’s ride without hampering its dynamic abilities.
It also gives the Yaris a more purposeful hot hatch height; plenty love the tippy toe stance on the factory machine, but Litchfield said its customers are keen to give the car a more aggressive look – something this kit duly delivers on. Engineers haven’t gone further with the suspension mods at this stage; in fact, they're said to be impressed with the high standard of the factory setup. Hardly surprising, given that the structure is WRC homologated and was tested extensively off-road during development.
The firm is also working on new engine management software for the ECU, and it’s reverse engineering its way into the car’s control systems so the turbocharged three-pot can be mated to an aftermarket computer and work with higher-spec components. Litchfield has already been testing a piggyback system which has extracted 300hp from the mechanically unmodified 1.6-litre motor, representing a 39hp gain over standard. Given the perceived toughness of the all-wheel system and already brilliant performance of the underlying car, it suggests minimal mods will extract a significant jump in performance from Toyota’s all-wheel drive three-door.
Litchfield told PH that it’s working on pricing and launch dates for the suspension first, with numbers due to be confirmed later this month. It refrained from giving an early estimate so as to give engineers time to finish the work; apparently the phone’s been ringing off the hook even before it confirmed the development work was underway. Who'd have though it, eh?
- Read about the Yaris in our Favourite cars of 2020 feature
- Watch our GR Yaris vs Fiesta ST Edition video here
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