Lay It On Thick: A Yaris Gone Wide
We’ve touched base on the GR Yaris a couple times before, and I am most certain this is a car that deserves every bit of the limelight. Heck, it’s so good I’ve actually found myself the proud owner of one – albeit being an unplanned expense. The opportunity to take ownership of a car like this should be grasped with full commitment and no second thoughts because there’s plenty of others in line willing to pay a premium. That said, if this particular GR Yaris hasn’t already given any indication, the aftermarket for this platform is an entirely different rabbit hole to step into.
What we have here is Manila’s first Pandem GR Yaris, and in typical Kei Miura fashion this is currently the wildest kit that is offered for the rally-bred homologation special. The kit is a hyperbole of the Yaris’ original girthy silhouette, but this time there’s a giant wing, huge cannards, and vents all around the body. Every piece of this kit is loud enough to transform what is – to the untrained eye – a ‘common’ hatchback into something that is sure to break a few necks, which brings us to the usual argument against widebody kits like these.
“People only run widebody for looks and online clout.”
For the most part, this is a saddening fact. The origins of the widebody are intended to elevate performance by allowing to fit wider tires for more grip as well as for having wider track overall, yet the look has become so popular that everyone seems to miss the point. The widebody game these days is all about the look, and often these cars have nothing to show for under the hood when it comes to matching actual performance with the ‘aesthetic’ of performance.
At first glance, you’d reckon this GR Yaris would be guilty of being that type of build. Keen eyes will notice the black caliper behind the spokes of the Gram Lights 57DR, hinting towards the fact that this Yaris isn’t specced with the Circuit Pack that lends more performance to the car via Torsen LSDs front and rear as well as an Advics big brake kit. Not to mention the fact that the 57DRs are still running 265-section Advan Neovas despite being extra wide, instead opting for spacers instead of filling the wheel well with extra tire. All of these are signs of a car that values exterior appeal over outright performance, but stick with us for a bit.
The option to move to thicker tires is certainly on the table for a car this wide, but the choice to maintain the 265 section tires boils down to the fact that the car is still running stock power. More grip won’t do squat without more power to keep the larger tires spinning. Seeing as the 57DRs are actually on loan from Autoplus Sports, this GR Yaris will soon get a set of Advan GTs in the exact same 18x9.5 +12 size with 265s mounted on again. Perhaps once more options for increasing power are developed we’ll eventually see more tire in the wells.
The choice to run 265-section Advan Neova AD08Rs also hints towards another thing about this particular car – it actually sees some time at the track. With a common tire size, it’ll be easier to replace than having to order wide tires every single track outing. And despite being a convenience pack with a widebody the real kicker here isn’t on the spec sheet, it’s on the lap timer. With this whole setup this particular GR Yaris was able to set a 2’11 in Clark International Speedway; Ask your local track rat friends just how fast that is.
Now that we have credentials out of the way, we can proceed with appreciating the execution of this Pandem widebody. The rear shows much prominence thanks to the massive gate-mounted wing with long splitter rods holding it in place to the trunk. Shift to the side a bit and the rear haunches add more volume to what is an already-thick posterior. Details such as the cut-outs on the sides of the rear bumper as well as the front-facing vent on the rear fender all lend even more towards the raw performance aesthetic that Pandem/Rocket Bunny has long been known for.
The front section of the Yaris doesn’t miss out on the absurdity of Kei Miura’s imagination. A sizeable steel splitter lays the base for the whole front end; Yes, steel. Because fiberglass will easily break. Pandem actually builds sturdy panels and pieces now, a testament to how long they’ve been in the widebody business. The giant cannards will probably generate a healthy amount of downforce considering its caricatured size vs the rest of the body, but they do have one drawback – they cover the fog lamps entirely. Not that the owner would give a shit about that at this point, really.
There is one piece of the more recent Pandem kits that i’m a bit on the fence about. The way the fenders are a bit boxier and cut out into a flat cladding-like panel at the corner redefines Miura’s newer Pandem line versus the older Rocket Bunny kits with cleaner fenders. It’s definitely a different approach and it somehow works, yet there is something to miss about the older days when widebody kits were just clean and less about frills and edges.
With how this particular car is being driven, I sure hope it continues to see more development in the future. Given a bit of time and R&D I’m sure more there will be easier ways to get more performance out of the G16E 3-Cylinder, and when that time comes perhaps the rest of the wheel and tire package can step up to fill the wells with fat rubber nicely.
Perhaps then we will see this Yaris dip well below the 2’10 mark at Clark International Speedway.