Drivers have been pleading with Toyota for months for a taste of the GR Yaris, but the automaker has yet to relent. Instead, it’s giving us a different hot hatchback that may be more attractive and acceptable for our roads. Meet the all-new 2023 Toyota GR Corolla and the limited-edition Circuit Edition. The GR Corolla, which produces 300 horsepower from a small engine and comes standard with rally-tuned all-wheel drive and widebody styling that would make a Subaru WRX blush, is expected to hit dealerships later this year.
G16E-GTS turbocharged engine
The GR Corolla is powered by the same 1.6-litre, turbocharged 3-cylinder engine as the GR Yaris, but with 300 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. That’s 32 horsepower and around 7 pound-feet more than its smaller brother, which will come in handy given that the 3,249-pound GR Corolla is about 430 pounds heavier than the GR Yaris.
The G16E-GTS engine breathes in through a single-scroll ball-bearing turbo and out through a valved exhaust system with three brushed stainless steel exhaust tips. Standard equipment is a six-speed manual transmission with rev-matching capability.
GR Four all-wheel-drive
Toyota’s GR Four all-wheel-drive system lies at the heart of the GR Corolla’s drivetrain. The GR Four system, which was designed with rallying in mind and fine-tuned by Toyota Gazoo Racing’s WRC engineers and drivers, has adjustable power distribution. Drivers can switch from a 60:40 front-to-rear torque distribution suited for daily driving to a 50:50 split for maximum stability and then to a rear-biased 30:70 distribution for dynamic driving on back roads and circuits with the turn of a dial. These are, of course, baseline settings, and the system will automatically shuffle torque distribution between the axles based on the driver’s inputs and road conditions to optimise grip.
Torsen limited-slip differentials on the front and rear axles are available as part of the Performance Package upgrade for the GR Corolla. This aids in optimising lateral torque distribution for improved grip. Front and rear open differentials are standard.
The GR Corolla measures 72.9 inches wide, which is about 2.5 inches wider than the conventional Corolla hatchback thanks to an aggressive broad body makeover. The wheelbase remains unaltered at 103.9 inches, but the GR’s more pointed bodywork adds an inch and a half, bringing the total length to 173.5 inches. 18-inch cast alloy wheels with a gloss black finish and sticky Michelin Pilot Sport 4 235/40R18 tyres fill those bulging arches. Stopping power is provided by 14-inch four-piston front brakes and 11.7-inch two-piston rear grabbers.
Toyota has reinforced Corolla’s GA-C chassis with more weld spots and a more liberal application of structural glue, in addition to making it look more planted and powerful. This provides a more stable basis for the beefed-up MacPherson front and double-wishbone rear suspensions to function on. The springs, dampers, and stabiliser bars on the GR have all been updated with the goal of circuit-tuned performance, with special care devoted to ensuring that the handling meshes with the AWD system’s capabilities.
The 2023 Toyota GR Corolla will be available in two trim levels: basic Core and limited-edition Circuit Edition.
Circuit Edition models include a forged carbon roof that is a few ounces lighter than the conventional steel roof, lowering the hatchback’s centre of mass. The forged sheet composite has a distinctive mottled appearance that differs from woven carbon fibre. A vented hood with a more noticeable power bulge than standard, or a larger roof spoiler than the Core model, can be found on either end.
Toyota’s Heavy Metal satin finish paint is distinctive to the Circuit Edition, which is also available in white or Supersonic Red, as are red brake callipers with GR insignia. Suede-trimmed sports seats with red accents adorn the cockpit. A gear knob signed by Morizo, aka Toyota master driver and president Akio Toyoda, is possibly the most prized Circuit Edition launch year special for Toyota-phile collectors.
The aforementioned front and rear Torsen limited-slip differentials are also standard on the Circuit Edition versions.
Cabin and safety personnel
The GR Corolla includes an 8-inch version of Toyota’s Audio Multimedia infotainment system as standard. The Circuit Edition has basic JBL premium audio, navigation, and Qi-compatible wireless phone charging, but the Core grade can be upgraded with a Technology package as well. In any case, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard, as is Amazon Alexa compatibility and the automaker’s “Hey Toyota” hotword voice command and search.
Toyota doesn’t scrimp on safety features in the GR Corolla, and the sporty hatchback comes standard with Toyota Safety Sense 3.0 driver assistance technology. This suite includes pre-collision warnings with pedestrian and motorcycle identification, lane departure warning, lane tracing steering help, automated high beams, and other features. Surprisingly, the GR Corolla will include radar-based adaptive cruise control as standard equipment, which is unusual for a vehicle with three pedals.
Arriving in late 2022
The price of the GR Corolla, as well as its Performance, Technology, and Cold Weather packages has yet to be released. I’m guessing it’ll start at $37,000, based on the GR Yaris and leaving some wiggle room below the GR Supra’s MSRP, with the Circuit Edition costing around $5,000 extra. More specifics will emerge as we approach the debut later this year, so we’ll know how educated a prediction that is.
With the Subaru WRX STI no longer in production, the 2023 Toyota GR Corolla will compete against the all-wheel-drive VW Golf R as well as front-wheel-drive competition from the Hyundai Elantra N and the impending eleventh-generation Honda Civic Type R.