The GR Corolla is Toyota’s pocket rally car that you could drive every day. Or am I getting ahead of myself?

In 2016, Toyota’s racer-gearhead CEO Akio Toyoda decided he wanted the company to compete in the World Rally Championship. The only issue? It didn’t have a car they could field.

The result of this was the Toyota GR Yaris, which used an entirely distinct body shell and drivetrain from the standard Yaris and quickly proved a major threat on the WRC circuit. Though that rally Yaris never came to Canada, Toyota has installed that same drivetrain into a Corolla hatchback body to give us the new GR Corolla.

The 2023 Toyota GR Corolla is technically based on the standard 5-door Corolla hatch, but you won’t mistake one for the other. Besides a unique front fascia and a signature rear bumper design with three exhaust outlets (one per cylinder!), the GR’s chunky fender flares make it 105 mm (4″) wider than a standard car. It’s also built exclusively at Toyota’s Motomachi plant, birthplace of the Lexus LFA supercar. The assembly plant has no conveyor belt, and the GR Corollas are assembled with a more human-centric manual assembly process. Talented at this plant is recruited from across the company for this specific assignment.

The heart that makes the GR Corolla so special is its powertrain, with a unique engine not sold in any other line. The G16E-GTS is Toyota-speak for a 1.6L inline three-cylinder engine with a single turbocharger. That turbo puts 25.2psi of boost down the triple’s intake to generate an impressive 300 hp at 6,000 rpm and 273 lb-ft from 3,000-5,000 rpm. Like many other high-boost engines, the G16 uses direct and port fuel injection to feed pressurized air and to enhance chamber cooling. It’s essentially the same engine as was used in the not-for-here GR Yaris, but with larger exhaust vales and a few other tweaks to make 32 hp more than before.

first drive: 2023 toyota gr corolla

2023 Toyota GR Corolla Photo by Clayton Seams

first drive: 2023 toyota gr corolla

2023 Toyota GR Corolla Photo by Clayton Seams

first drive: 2023 toyota gr corolla

2023 Toyota GR Corolla Photo by Clayton Seams

first drive: 2023 toyota gr corolla

2023 Toyota GR Corolla Photo by Clayton Seams

first drive: 2023 toyota gr corolla

2023 Toyota GR Corolla Photo by Clayton Seams

first drive: 2023 toyota gr corolla

2023 Toyota GR Corolla Photo by Clayton Seams

first drive: 2023 toyota gr corolla

2023 Toyota GR Corolla Photo by Clayton Seams

first drive: 2023 toyota gr corolla

2023 Toyota GR Corolla Photo by Clayton Seams

first drive: 2023 toyota gr corolla

2023 Toyota GR Corolla Photo by Clayton Seams

first drive: 2023 toyota gr corolla

2023 Toyota GR Corolla Photo by Clayton Seams

first drive: 2023 toyota gr corolla

2023 Toyota GR Corolla Photo by Clayton Seams

Carried over from the Yaris is the sensational GR-Four AWD drivetrain. All-wheel drive is standard on the GR Corolla, and in Canada we get standard limited-slip diffs front and rear. The torque split fore and aft has three settings: 60:40 for everyday driving, 50:50 for ultimate lap times, and 30:70 for when you want to slide around with the tail out. The torque split can be adjusted on the fly via a dial on the centre console.

The starting price for the GR Corolla in Canada is $45,490 for the Core model, which Toyota predicts will account for 75% of sales. Buyers can upgrade to the $53,990 Circuit trim, which includes a vented hood, carbon-fibre roof, heated front seats, and a heated steering wheel.

The only transmission offered on the GR Corolla is a delightful close-ratio six-speed manual. It’s only a single overdrive (6th is 0.902:1), and the space between gears is sportingly close. Rowing through those gears the GR Corolla feels alive and playful. With 300 horsepower in such a small car, the next gear is never very far away.

I had a chance to drive various trims of the GR Corolla on road and on the track. Let’s start with the road experience.

The first thing you notice is how different and special the GR Corolla feels versus a standard Corolla. Sure, parts like the door cards are standard pieces, but the front seats are unique and the GR gets a unique digital dashboard arrangement with central tach and boost gauge.

Once running, the warble of the three-cylinder engine is a constant reminder that this car is something special. That sound is punctuated by the chirps and flutters of a wonderfully talkative turbo and wastegate system that will have your mind recalling Group-B compilation videos on YouTube.

Three hundred horsepower in a compact, light-weight car makes for a fast combination, but throw in a close-ratio six-speed transmission and the GR Corolla feels absolutely rapid when going up through the gears. The shifter is sublime, and while it may not match the Honda Type R for ultimate satisfaction, it’s one of the very best manual transmissions you can buy today. Toyota did excellent work here.

Another point I noticed on the road is the relatively soft springing and long suspension travel for such a sporty car. Compared to the new Honda Civic Type R, the Corolla GR takes bumps better and feels more confident over broken and uneven pavement. My road-loop was on a narrow undulating cottage road that no doubt would have upset the taut Type R. To me, this shows that Toyota intends the GR Corolla to be a performance car adept in all seasons and conditions and not simply a dry-weather tarmac special. To get nostalgic, it reminded me of driving a 1990s Subaru GC8 STi in high school. This is how Subaru STis used to feel.

first drive: 2023 toyota gr corolla

2023 Toyota GR Corolla Photo by Clayton Seams

But does that magic translate onto the track? I did some laps in a Morizo-Edition GR Corolla to find out. The Morizo is a limited-edition model of which just 10 are coming to Canada, and for which owners will have to audition to Toyota for the privilege of paying $59,990 for one. The Morizo runs an additional 1.1 psi of boost (for a total of 26.3 psi), which according to Toyota makes 22 additional pound-feet of torque and no additional horsepower. The lack of a horsepower increase is pretty hard to believe, and it’s my personal suspicion that Toyota simply didn’t want to re-certify a new hp rating for such a limited production model. Read into that what you will. Beyond the extra boost, the Morizo gets a completely new gearset with even more closely spaced gears.

It’s worth noting that these changes hardly affect 0-100 acceleration times. The standard model will do it in 4.99 seconds and the Morizo will do it in an imperceptibly faster 4.92. But there are other changes too. The Morizo gets special shocks, unique 18″ forged wheels with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, two additional floor braces, and one additional strut brace. In the interest of weight savings, the rear seat has been removed, the rear windows no longer go up and down, and the rear window wiper has been sacrificed. This means it weighs 29 kg less than the Circuit trim and 45 kg less than the Core trim.

The Morizo only comes in a unique colour called Smoke Grey, and there are already 2,500 applicants for the 10 cars. If you want one, you’d better move quickly.

first drive: 2023 toyota gr corolla

2023 Toyota GR Corolla Photo by Clayton Seams

Running up the hill at Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit, the Morizo feels noticeably more manic than the standard versions. The lack of a rear seat means you’ll hear that rally-bred exhaust pinging off the walls of the track and every single pebble pickup by the sticky Michelins. I can also report noticeable wind noise above 160 km/h.

Unconstrained by speed limits, the GR Corolla is a joy on the track. It feels eager, willing, and communicative. The short wheelbase certainly keeps you on your toes, and I found the 30:70 rearward torque split too twitchy and much preferred the 50:50 setup for track driving. In that setting it claws out of corners, powers down the straights, and rotates nicely on corner entry to allow you to do it all over again.

The Morizo makes the GR Corolla feel more racy and special, but I wouldn’t feel too bad if you aren’t one of the lucky few to be selected to buy it. Those who buy the Core and Circuit trims will be having exactly 97% the fun of Morizo owners, so you’re really not missing out on much.

The GR Corolla is everything we hoped it would be: fast, fun, engaging, and (reasonably) affordable. It’s a pocket rally car that you can commute to work in, bomb down a fire road, or don a helmet to slide around a race track. It’s a car that can do it all.

Keyword: First Drive: 2023 Toyota GR Corolla

CAR'S NEWS RELATED

AA DRIVEN COTY 2022 People's Choice: Toyota RAV4 SUV voted top by readers

The people have spoken, and they have chosen Toyota RAV4 as the 2022 AA DRIVEN People’s Choice winner. With the list formed from the top 15 vehicles sold in New Zealand from January to October 2022, we form a semi-random ordered list and open the voting for the month of ...

View more: AA DRIVEN COTY 2022 People's Choice: Toyota RAV4 SUV voted top by readers

Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 wins Autosport’s Rally Car of the Year Award

Kalle Rovanpera, Jonne Halttunen, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 The Yaris was victorious on seven of the 13 World Rally Championship events in the first year of the hybrid Rally1 regulations and scooped both the manufacturers’ crown and drivers’ title with Kalle Rovanpera. Autosport readers have ...

View more: Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 wins Autosport’s Rally Car of the Year Award

Which Non-Hybrid 2023 Toyota SUV Gets the Best Gas Mileage?

2023 Toyota non-hybrid SUVs The 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Runner-ups for the best gas mileage Toyota has 11 crossovers and SUVs in its 2023 lineup, ranging from the top-of-the-line Sequoia Hybrid, which has a starting price of $58,300, to the first-ever Corolla Cross with an MSRP of $22,445. Pricing ...

View more: Which Non-Hybrid 2023 Toyota SUV Gets the Best Gas Mileage?

Toyota Land Cruiser Parade Makes Rock Crawling In Moab Look Basic

Mostly consisting of 80 and 100 series LCs, these hulking machines were born to crawl.

View more: Toyota Land Cruiser Parade Makes Rock Crawling In Moab Look Basic

Toyota Land Cruiser's Return To The US Could Still Happen

A Toyota executive confirms that the company isn't closing its doors to the possibility.

View more: Toyota Land Cruiser's Return To The US Could Still Happen

Toyota GR Corolla sales in Japan starts with lottery sales

TOKYO:  Toyota Gazoo Racing (TGR) will start selling the GR Corolla in Japan in early 2023. But customers can’t just walk into showrooms to buy them. They have to buy lotteries to stand a chance to acquire the cars. The lotteries began selling last Friday and would be offered ...

View more: Toyota GR Corolla sales in Japan starts with lottery sales

2023 Toyota RAV4 Has 1 Huge Thing the Honda CR-V Doesn’t Offer

2023 Toyota RAV4 Prime: Plug-in hybrid for the RAV4, but not for the 2023 Honda CR-V Toyota RAV4 Prime has better performance than any Honda CR-V model 2023 RAV4 Prime has better fuel economy than any Honda CR-V model In the highly competitive compact crossover SUV segment, the Toyota ...

View more: 2023 Toyota RAV4 Has 1 Huge Thing the Honda CR-V Doesn’t Offer

The All-New Hino 200 Is The Toyota-Powered Light Truck Built For MSMEs (w/ Specs)

Hino Motors Philippines stirs up the country’s commercial vehicle industry with the launch of their newest and lightest truck line: the All-New Hino 200 Series. Featuring the 315 and 415 models, these trucks are the ideal entry-level option for entrepreneurs seeking reliable transport for their business. With gross vehicle ...

View more: The All-New Hino 200 Is The Toyota-Powered Light Truck Built For MSMEs (w/ Specs)

Only 1 Toyota Model Improved Reliability in 2022, According to Consumer Reports

The amazing evolution of the Toyota Prius over 26 years

3 Toyotas With the Lowest 10-Year Maintenance Costs

Critics Love the 2022 Toyota Venza But Consumers Aren’t Sold

Why Does J.D. Power Recommend the 2022 Ford Bronco Over the 2022 Toyota 4Runner?

Toyota didn't test WEC Hypercar after April due to budget constraints

The 2024 Toyota Grand Highlander Solves Critical Problems

Toyota Launches Investigation After bZ4X Gets Only 134 Miles Of Range In Danish Test

4 Advantages the Ford Escape Has Over the Toyota RAV4

This 2023 Toyota SUV Is Only Offered as a Hybrid

Step aside Tesla and Toyota, Hyundai wants to be the electric car leader in Australia!

The Toyota Tacoma Isn’t in the Top 10 Longest Lasting Vehicles

OTHER CAR NEWS

;
Breaking thailand news, thai news, thailand news Verified News Story Network