A personal ‘kaizen’ mission

 

Thanks to Toyota’s focus on the philosophy of kaizen, the cars it builds are being continually evaluated and improved, writes Joe Clifford.

But while there’s no doubt that this helps meet the needs of drivers throughout the world, there are times when it doesn’t quite capture the entire marketplace.

For some people, that’s where aftermarket tuners and specialists come in, producing parts that allow people to personalise their cars.

As someone who has been immersed in the aftermarket scene, I completely understand why.

Having edited a specialist Japanese car tuning magazine since 1999, I have built and modified many vehicles, including the AE86 Corolla GT Coupe that is now part of Toyota GB’s heritage fleet.

This Yaris SR is my latest project. Admittedly, it is not a radical departure from standard, so none of the standard car’s impressive flexibility has been ruined. But I think the results are still attention-grabbing, which is really the whole point of the exercise and why many people like to modify their vehicles.

Though the Yaris SR benefits from a sportier suspension setup that rides 10mm lower than other models, work began by changing this to fully adjustable coilover-type struts.

These race-derived units allowed me to fine-tune the ride height, lowering the chassis by approximately 45mm to equalise the arch gap around the wheels and give the car a more ground-hugging stance.

Within the modified scene, chassis lowering is often accompanied by a change in rolling stock. Once again, the Yaris SR is already well endowed with 16″ sports alloy wheels, but I wanted a new wheel with a larger diameter and more imposing width.

The wheels I chose have carefully considered measurements that are larger in both respects, but by specifying a precise width and profile for the new tyres the overall rolling circumference is identical. This means that the speedometer reading remains accurate. Once the new wheels were bolted on, a full geometry session on a high-tech laser alignment machine restored the angle of the wheels to within manufacturer tolerances.

As a relatively high-mileage driver, I didn’t want to modify the SR’s 1.33-litre petrol engine and compromise its economy. Therefore the only aftermarket part fitted is a new air filter, which is not only free-flowing but also ecologically sound in that it can be regularly washed and reused.

Externally, the standard Yaris SR is distinguished by darkened headlights, smoked chrome trim and a roof spoiler that subtly enhance Toyota’s current design language. This ‘keen look’ is further emphasised with the addition of a pair of colour-coded eyebrows from the official Modellista accessory range found in the Japanese domestic market. Along with a set of colour-coded Modellista trim pieces for the interior, I personally imported these attractive items from Japan using a part sourcing service run by a third party.

Most people would be happy with the looks of their car at this point. However, I felt that something was missing; it needed some form of visual device to make people really sit up and take notice. My solution is admittedly quirky but also visually arresting — a vinyl wrap printed with pink urban camouflage. The wrap is applied to just one panel or element on each of the four sides, which gives the car an asymmetric appearance.

This Yaris SR is my personal expression of a kaizen philosophy. The car is now a better expression of my personality and its adjustable suspension can be easily tuned to suit my preferred handling characteristics. The modifications may not be to everybody’s taste but I think they achieve the desired effect of making people look.

What do you think of my efforts? I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject.

NB: Toyota neither endorses nor condones modifying a car from standard specification using unofficial, non-standard parts. Doing so may invalidate the vehicle warranty and compromise its performance. Your insurance company must be informed of all modifications.

Comments (6)

  1. This is great! I wish I could hand my Yaris over to this guy n let him do his business on it!

    The lowered stance and wheels that fill the archs make this car look sooo much better.

    1. Hi Brian,
      Thanks for showing your support. We’ll take your comments in to consideration and pass them on to our product team. Thanks.

  2. Please can you tell me how to get hold of the eyebrows?? I also have an Sr in chilli red and would like to start personalising it. I have debadged it and re-sprayed some of the interior trim and am looking for some other subtle tweaks (maybe get alloys painted black??). Any help would be appreciated. Your Yaris looks awesome!

    1. Hi Gary,
      Thanks for your post. My colleague Joe Clifford will respond to you directly via email. Many thanks.

  3. Finally! Some form of modification to the mk3 Yaris in the UK! Such a shame Toyota doesn’t seem to get that a hot Yaris would sell like well.. hot cakes!!! (Bring the Vitz GRMN turbo to the UK Toyota!) Good work! Admittedly the pink urban camo thing is a bit juvenile and the red interior garish at best, but the rest of the mods are excellent! It would be nice if you put some details of the wheels you chose! stuff like make, trye size… (let me guess 215/40/R17?)

    1. Hi Dino,
      Its great to hear you’re a Yaris fan.
      We always recommend Toyota owners speak to their local dealer and insurance company if they wish to modify their car. The dealer will be able to recommend options which won’t affect the vehicle’s warranty. Likewise, insurers will be able to advise on how certain modifications will effect your cover and / or premium. To find your local Toyota dealer please visit: https://beta.toyota.co.uk/find-a-dealer.
      The wheels chosen on this car are 7.5×17” (ET40) Wolfrace Blitz alloys with Hyper Silver finish- 215/40 R17 Cooper Zeon 2XS tyres. The suspension is a fully adjustable PB Coilover setup that has lowered the ride height by approximately 40mm. This also meant that the rear arch returns had to be rolled inwards to stop the much wider wheels from making contact with the bodywork – as we mentioned, this could quite likely effect warranty and insurance cover.
      If you do have any questions about this, please feel free to get back in contact.
      Thanks!

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