The 2023 Toyota GR Corolla is undoubtedly poised to become the rowdiest Corolla iteration since the legendary AE86.
Produced since 1966, across an impressive 12 generations, and boasting over 50 million models sold as of 2021, the Corolla is certainly one of the world's best-selling vehicle nameplates. The Toyota Corolla has always been a people's car, redefining class benchmarks and stunning enthusiasts with new technology, uncommon desirability, innovative features, and enhanced performance. Over the years, iterations such as the AE86, FX16, and AE92 have carried the Corolla badge to legendary status.
Related: 9 Things Everyone Forgot About The Toyota Corolla AE86
However, critics have branded the Corolla as plain and dull in the last few years, but all that is about to get quashed with the introduction of the first-ever GR Corolla. Toyota Gazoo Racing has proven its performance mettle by translating its world rally and endurance racing formula into road-going models like the GR Supra and GR Yaris, so it's unsurprising that expectations are high for the GR Corolla. Here's the low-down on what we now know about the Toyota GR Corolla to get you up to speed.
Although poor Yaris sales in the U.S. market justified the decision, racing and automotive enthusiasts could not hide their disappointment over Toyota's announcement to deny them the rally-inspired GR Yaris. But with the introduction of the stylish and agile GR Corolla, U.S. drivers will finally get the hot hatch they craved.
According to Toyota, the GR Corolla will be available in fall 2022 with a 36-month/36,000-mile basic new-vehicle warranty, an additional 60-month warranty to cover corrosion, and the powertrain for 60,000 miles, and a 2-year/25,000-mile ToyotaCare factory-scheduled maintenance plan. Furthermore, owners receive a complimentary 1-year membership to the National Auto Sport Association.
The most distinct exterior characteristic is the GR Corolla's wide stance and broad hatch design, intended to project a solid and attack-ready hot-hatch style. At the front is a GR-badged functional matrix grille, flanked by functional air ducts on either side, LED DRLs, and auto on/off LED headlamps.
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Besides the wide front and rear fender flares, the wide track and flaring of the GR Corolla's rear wings emphasize the spicy wide and low silhouette. The rear is also characterized by a rear lower bumper cover with functional air vents.
Like the exterior, the GR-Corolla's interior reflects the car's performance, most notably around the cockpit. Toyota relied on feedback from its professional drivers to develop the 12.3-inch color Multi-Information Display that features a GR full TFT meter with 4WD mode, gear position indicator, turbo pressure, and tachometer.
The cabin also features 6-way adjustable driver's and 4-way adjustable front passenger seats, with GR-badged headrests and seatback pockets. Trim-dependent creature comforts include a heated GR-leather-trimmed tilt/telescopic sport steering wheel, heated front seats, GR engine start/stop button, automatic climate control, lighted footwells, Qi-compatible wireless charging, tech-laden 8-inch audio multimedia system, and connected services.
Toyota's press release intimated that no road was left unturned in developing the GR Corolla. The Gazoo Racing team repeatedly tested the new model at leading Japanese circuits, including the Suzuka, Fuji Speedway, and Tsukuba Circuit. At the same time, a Japanese Rally Championship driver carried out heavy-duty snow and dirt driving.
The GR Corolla achieved its GR badge through a rigid yet aerodynamic enhanced body, a MacPherson-type front suspension, double-wishbone type multilink rear suspension, wide tread tires, and opposed fixed-caliper disc brakes. Gazoo Racing's rigorous approach also focused on saving weight to maximize the GR Corolla's performance potential, extensively using lightweight material and metals in critical areas without compromising safety and strength.
At the heart of the GR Corolla is the lightweight and straightforward GR-Four all-wheel-drive system, the first sports-oriented AWD system Toyota has developed in over 20 years. Whether you desire to adjust performance for rain, snow, dirt, or the fun of a different feel, the new rally-inspired system offers settings that deliver exceptional control and traction levels for various conditions.
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Drivers can toggle a 60/40 front/rear torque distribution for daily driving, a more sporty, rear-biased 30/70 distribution for optimal driving fun on winding roads and circuits, or a maximum 50/50 setting to accommodate fast, competitive track driving on special stages and circuits. The torque balance is automatically adjusted according to the driver's input, road/track conditions, or vehicle behavior.
Toyota fitted the GR Corolla with the same turbocharged G16E-GTS engine used in the GR Yaris, but with an extra kick. The compact-yet powerful three-cylinder engine utilizes motorsport technologies such as multi-oil jet piston cooling and a part-machined intake port to boost the output.
Combustion in the engine is fed by a D-4S direct and port fuel injection system, operating at high pressure to ensure maximum fuel dispersion and efficiency. The tuned-up engine generates 300hp at 6500rpm with a peak torque of 273lb-ft available between the 3000 and 5500 rpm sweet spot, a 32hp bonus over the GR Yaris.
The GR Corolla features a triple exhaust system with valves capped off with brushed stainless steel tips, an addition that does well to complement the aggressively sporty aesthetic. Although it serves the overall design language, the triple exhaust is pivotal to the GR Corolla's performance.
Considering the G16E-GTS powerplant comprises three cylinders, the three-piece muffler functions to improve the exhaust efficiency necessary to achieve 300hp. The design reduces exhaust pressure and outside noise above a certain engine rpm, reducing the backpressure that could be detrimental to a turbocharged engine.
Toyota revealed that the GR Corolla would exclusively feature a manual transmission that stays true to its hands-on rally racing heritage. Excellent news for driving purists. The six-speed manual shift lever boasts light and short shift strokes that allow a quick throw between gears.
Related: These 10 SUVs Can Actually Be Had With A Manual Transmission
Toyota positioned the shift lever where the driver's arm naturally lowers from the steering, enhancing the overall performance quality even further. The DOHC 12-valve engine features a single-scroll ball-bearing turbo that Gazoo Racing paired to the intelligent manual transmission with rev-matching engineered to facilitate high-speed torque levels.
Although Toyota is yet to announce the pricing, we expect the GR Corolla to initially be available in two trims, Core and launch-year-exclusive Circuit Edition. The Core Grade features a color-keyed roof with a black rear lip spoiler, wide-fender flares, GR-Four stamped side rockers and GR logoed fabric sport seats. Option packages include performance, technology, and cold-weather packages, while color options include white, black, and Supersonic Red.
The limited-run Circuit Edition builds upon the Core with a vented bulge hood, forged carbon-fiber roof, sporty rear spoiler, wide fenders, GR-Four stamped side rockers, and Brin Naub suede-trimmed sports seats with red accents and GR logos. Standard color options will include white, Supersonic Red, and Heavy Metal.
The limited-run Circuit Edition model will also feature a launch-year exclusive Morizo signed shift knob. The Easter egg refers to Akio Toyoda's alias, a name that he used to compete in the grueling 24 Hours Nürburgring endurance races. Akio Toyoda faced harsh criticism from within and outside the company for engaging in life-threatening racing activities on behalf of Toyota, so he coined 'Morizo' to remain inconspicuous.
Through Hiromu Naruse's engineering and driving experience and the independent GAZOO Racing division, Toyoda has guided Toyota to develop a focus on making ever-better cars. The Morizo signature in the Circuit Edition GR Corolla is his stamp of approval, not as company president, but as the final arbiter of Toyota's cars.
Simon Kim has always been passionate about machines since childhood, and this has grown into an obsession well into adulthood. As an avid reader and creative content writer, he finds joy and fulfillment in sharing his love for cars and bikes with other machine heads. Currently, Kim seeks to deliver exciting and informative articles on HotCars. He enjoys music and art and dabbles in active sports and virtual gaming in his spare time.