2023 Toyota GR Corolla Rocks The Boat With 300 HP, AWD, And A Six-Speed Manual
The Toyota Corolla has built a reputation for reliability and value, but few have called it fun. Enter the lively world of Gazoo Racing.
Toyota’s performance arm has gotten their hands on the compact hatchback and given it an aggressive, rally-inspired makeover. The end result is the 2023 GR Corolla and it’s coming to strike fear into the heart of the Subaru WRX and Volkswagen Golf R. And unlike it’s smaller brother, the GR Yaris, this one ladies and gents, is actually coming to North America.
A 300 HP Corolla With All-Wheel Drive And A Six-Speed Manual
While the Corolla Hatchback has a perfectly acceptable 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 168 hp (125 kW / 170 PS) and 151 lb-ft (205 Nm) of torque, it doesn’t exactly get the heart racing. To solve this problem, engineers have installed a turbocharged 1.6-liter three-cylinder unit codenamed G16E-GTS that develops an impressive 300 hp (224 kW / 304 PS) and 273 lb-ft (370 Nm) of torque.
It makes the GR Corolla nearly twice as powerful as the standard model and even more forceful than the 275 hp (206 kW / 279 PS) Hyundai Veloster N. The Toyota also bests the 271 hp (202 kW / 275 PS) Subaru WRX as well as N versions of the Hyundai Elantra and Kona. However, it comes up short when compared to the 315 hp (235 kW / 319 PS) Volkswagen Golf R.
The engine is connected exclusively to a six-speed manual transmission and a GR-Four all-wheel drive system. Like on the GR Yaris, the system is adjustable and offers front/rear power splits of 60:40, 50:50, and 30:70. This means the car can be front biased, neutral, or rear biased at the twist of a knob.
› Engine: 1.6-liter turbocharged inline-three cylinder
› Power: 300 HP (304 PS / 224 kW) and 273 lb-ft (370 Nm) of torque
› Driveline: 6-speed manual / GR-FOUR 4WD system
› Dimensions: 173.6 in (4,410 mm) L x 72.8 in (1,850 mm) W x 57.2 in (1,455 mm) H
› Wheelbase: 103.9 in (2,640 mm)
› Weight: 3,249 lbs (1,474 kg)
› On Sale: Fall 2022 (EST)
The performance features don’t end there as the GR Corolla has an aluminum hood and aluminum front door panels. They help to minimize the weight gain as the model tips the scales at 3,249 lbs (1,474 kg), which is 189 lbs (85.7 kg) more than the standard Corolla Hatchback.
Besides the weight saving measures, the GR Corolla rides on a beefed up version of the TNGA-C platform. It has “significantly more” weld points than the standard model and also benefits from the “extensive use of structural adhesive, increasing the joint rigidity between component parts.”
The suspension has also been revamped as the GR Corolla has a MacPherson strut setup with “circuit-tuned coil springs, shock absorbers, and stabilizer bars” to provide “optimum cornering capability on all surfaces.” Out back, there’s a double-wishbone multilink arrangement that “accommodates the AWD system’s goal of maximum agility and stability.” Furthermore, the model can be equipped with front and rear limited-slip differentials.
Wrapping things up on the performance front are 18-inch gloss black wheels that are wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires. They’re backed up by a beefy braking system that features four-piston aluminum calipers, which grab onto ventilated and slotted front discs that measure 14 inches (356 mm). Out back, there are two-piston aluminum calipers and smaller 11.7-inch (297 mm) ventilated discs.
The Angry Corolla
Hot hatches have largely been an overseas phenomenon, but when the GR Corolla arrives in the United States later this year it will have an aggressive design that clearly means business. This is immediately apparent as the entry-level Core variant has a massive mesh intake and a wide-body kit with bulging fenders. The model also sports vertical air curtains, gloss black accents, and functional fender vents. Designers also installed prominent side skirts with “GR-Four” badging.
The sporty theme is echoed out back by a distinctive three tip stainless steel exhaust system. Toyota said its design reduces “exhaust pressure and outside noise, which are essential to backpressure performance.” Other notable highlights include a rear spoiler and a relatively modest diffuser, which is integrated into the black rear bumper.
A Familiar, But Revamped Interior
Moving into the cabin, drivers will find a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster that features a tachometer as well as displays for turbo pressure, the current gear, and the selected all-wheel drive mode. It’s joined by a new 8-inch Toyota Audio Multimedia system, which offers cloud-based navigation as well as an Intelligent Assistant that responds to the “Hey Toyota” wake word.
Putting the displays aside, the GR Corolla comes equipped with fabric sport seats that feature gray contrast stitching as well as GR badging on the headrests. Drivers will also find a leather-wrapped sport steering wheel, aluminum pedals, and a six-speaker audio system.
Circuit Special Edition Combines Carbon Fiber With Upscale Features
To celebrate the introduction of the GR Corolla, Toyota will offer a Circuit Edition that features a bulging hood with functional air vents. The model is also distinguished by a forged carbon fiber roof, which reduces weight and helps to lower the car’s center of gravity. Other highlights include a massive rear wing and red brake calipers.
Interior changes are more modest, but the Circuit Edition has Brin Naub suede and synthetic leather sport seats with red mesh inserts and red contrast stitching. Buyers will also find a shift knob bearing the signature of “Morizo,” which is the racing alias of Toyota President Akio Toyoda.
The Circuit Edition also comes better equipped as customers will find heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, and an eight-speaker JBL premium audio system. They’re joined by an automatic climate control system and a wireless smartphone charger.
Plenty Of Safety Features
Despite its aggressive nature, the GR Corolla puts safety front and center. As a result, it comes equipped with the Toyota Safety Sense 3.0 suite of driver assistance systems that includes a Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, and Lane Tracing Assist. The model also has Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Automatic High Beams, Road Sign Assist, and a Rear Seat Reminder.
Other safety features include a Blind Spot Monitor, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and Hill Start Assist Control. Each GR Corolla also comes with a one year trial subscription of Toyota Safety Connect, which provides automatic collision notification, emergency assistance, roadside assistance, and a stolen vehicle location service.
Built At The Former Home Of The Lexus LFA
The hot hatch will be built at a dedicated GR factory in Motomachi, Japan. While the plant isn’t all-new, it has already given birth to legendary models such as the Lexus LFA and Supra A80. The facility incorporates “many manual assembly techniques” and is more focused on quality than production numbers.
Pricing will be announced in the coming months, but it appears enthusiasts have a lot to look forward too.
Live photos Michael Gauthier for Carscoops