The Yaris probably won't fit most of your preconceived notions of what an official Turbo magazine project vehicle should be. It's not fast. The Yaris wasn't designed to be fast, take hairpin turns or stop like a race car. When you buy one, there's no sort of turbocharger bolted to the 1.5L's four exhaust ports, no limited slip differential, no rear disc brakes, no all-wheel-drive gearbox. No, instead the Yaris is Toyota's answer to high gas prices and the sour after effects of combining that with a big, dumb SUV.

For those who think this might not be the smartest choice for a project vehicle of Turbo proportions, we're guessing you have not seen nor heard of Toyota's Vitz. Essentially a Japanese Yaris, the Vitz has been taken apart, turbocharged, tweaked and tuned with success by more than a few big-name Japanese tuning facilities since its birth at the beginning of the millennium. We thought we would do the same.


The Yaris will never produce 2JZ-GTE horsepower. For that matter, it will never produce Honda B-series horsepower. Once you set aside your machismo and get over this simple fact, building a Yaris of your own can be quite rewarding. Our initial chassis dyno test results at Skunk2 yielded a paltry, yet unsurprising, 98 hp. While we were smart enough to know that this little Toyota DOHC, VVT-i powerplant wouldn't be producing the 200 or so pounds of torque that we'd be able to appreciate, we still needed to do something to point and motivate the little hatchback into the flow of traffic. On the rare occasion that the freeways in our vicinity do actually move, accelerating and merging with the flow of traffic can be quite challenging if you haven't the power to back it up. Having a soccer mom in a loaded Yukon bone out past you with your foot pressed down against the Yaris' floor mat can be less than encouraging.