As the UK’s premier performance car centre, Litchfield has an unrivalled understanding of how to release heightened excitement and drama from the scene’s most-loved tuner cars. Identifying potential candidates for further development is not always straightforward but Litchfield’s latest project was unanimously agreed by its in-house experts.
While some models take time to become fully appreciated, no performance car in recent memory has hit the ground running as fast as the all-new Toyota GR Yaris, the WRC-derived hot hatch that rekindles the unbridled fun of all-paw homologation specials such as the Subaru Impreza WRX and Mitsubishi Lancer Evo.
Dealer demand for the new Toyota GR Yaris is sky-high and Litchfield hasn’t experienced such strong customer anticipation for aftermarket tuning products since the launch of the third-generation Ford Focus RS. Company proprietor Iain Litchfield therefore decided to accelerate the GR Yaris tuning programme by purchasing two development cars. This has allowed the team to test different engine and chassis specifications back-to-back, and make rapid but calculated decisions on everything from the tone of an exhaust note to optimal damper settings.
Toyota GR Yaris tuning parts currently in development at Litchfield:
- Exhaust systems, both full (with GPF/OPF removal options) and cat-back
- Bolt-in roll-cage
- Intake system
- ECU tuning
- Uprated intercooler
- Polyurethane chassis bushes
- Suspension systems
- Race seats with lower mounts
Among the above products, Litchfield believes that its forthcoming suspension upgrade and geometry realignment will deliver the most transformative improvement, both dynamically and aesthetically. “Once the initial novelty of this amazing car begins to wear off,” Iain reveals, “you become aware of the unforgiving ride on longer journeys and the fact that it sits very high and has large gaps between the wheels and arches.”
To address these issues, Litchfield is collaborating with leading British suspension manufacturer Nitron to develop two new, high-performance chassis set-ups. The launch systems will feature both three-way adjustment for maximum capability, and a more cost-effective two-way kit that locks-in some of the optimised settings at a more cost-effective price point.
Though impressed with the solid mounts, wide track and huge wheel articulation of the OE chassis, Litchfield’s initial target for the new suspension was to improve ride quality without sacrificing the character or handling traits of the GR Yaris. In addition, expert balancing of the dampers, valves and spring rates on pummelling back roads promises a broad dynamic range despite a lower, more aggressive ride height.
As an all-new model, the Toyota GR Yaris is equipped with the very latest ECU featuring all-new programming protocols. Currently, the Litchfield development team and its partners have been able to reverse engineer a means of communicating with the Denso unit’s CANbus system, and are also looking for a supply source for the ECU connectors that will allow Litchfield to use the premium line of Syvecs plug and play replacement ECUs.
In the meantime, tests have been successfully carried out with the addition of a simple piggyback-style tuning box that opens the possibility of modest boost pressure increases. Dyno tests have proved that 300bhp (a 16% increase over the factory output) is easily achievable, though further calibration is needed to deliver the sort of smooth, consistent power that Litchfield customers expect from a thoughtfully developed road car.