2023 Toyota GR Corolla

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2023 Toyota GR Corolla Review: A Rally Hatch For The Road

In a world full of designed-by-committee vehicles, EVs, and SUVs where everyday, affordable sports cars are a dying breed, the story of the Toyota GR Corolla hot hatch is one of our favorites. See, Toyota developed a new powertrain to participate in the 2021 World Rally Championships, comprising a turbocharged engine and adjustable, variable-split AWD. They took the subcompact Yaris hatchback, reskinned it, and transformed it into a stubby, wide-track, two-door hot hatch with all the subtlety of a bull terrier, especially to go WRC racing. Then the WRC introduced 2022 Rally1 hybrid powertrain rules, and Toyota was left with a powertrain but no rally program for it. So, Toyota simply sold the thus converted Yaris to the public, hooked up to a six-speed manual transmission, and with outputs varying between 257 and 268 hp, depending on the market.

Enthusiasts in the USA were frothing at the bit and reaching for their checkbooks when the news came that the car was not destined for local shores. But now Toyota has slotted the powertrain into a Corolla hatch, amped up the engine to 300 hp, and launched it in the US as the new Toyota GR Corolla hatchback. People who appreciate how infrequently such a hardcore piece of rally-developed kit is sold to the public won't care an ounce that some of the Toyota GR Corolla's competitors, like the VW Golf R and Honda Civic Type R, beat it on the odd metric; the 2023 GR Corolla is a proper hot hatch with a stick shift, rally tech, and Toyota's quality reputation at an affordable price. We might never see the likes of it again. Get in the queue.

Read in this review:

  • Exterior Design 10 /10
  • Performance 9 /10
  • Fuel Economy 9 /10
  • Interior & Cargo 7 /10
  • Infotainment & Features 8 /10
  • Reliability 10 /10
  • Safety 9 /10
  • Value For Money 10 /10
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2023 Toyota GR Corolla Changes: What’s The Difference vs The 2022 GR Corolla?

There's never been anything like it before. We all know the Corolla Hatch, but the GR Corolla is new for 2023 and slots in at the top of the lineup as the AWD performance flagship of the humble hatchback. It comes in three flavors - Core, Circuit Edition, and Morizo Edition, getting progressively more hardcore and expensive along the way. It's only available with a six-speed manual transmission and five-door hatchback body, and all models pack a nice even 300 hp.

All trims have Toyota's GR-Four AWD system, but the Circuit Edition adds LS front and rear diffs, and the Morizo Edition drops the rear seats, losing weight, and gaining a bit of torque and shorter gearing. Just 200 examples of the Morizo Edition will be built for 2023.

Pros and Cons

  • Proper, adjustable AWD system
  • Staggering grip and handling
  • Potent, fizzy, three-pot turbo engine
  • Pumped-up looks
  • Toyota actually built a rally car for the road
  • Truly a joy to drive
  • It needs revs to get going
  • Below average rear-seat and trunk space
  • Pedal spacing makes it difficult to heel & toe
  • Not quite as fast as the competition

What's the Price of the 2023 Toyota GR Corolla?

The price of the new 2023 Toyota GR Corolla starts at an MSRP of $35,900 for the Core. The Circuit Edition will cost you $42,900, and the limited-run Morizo Edition goes for $49,900. None of these prices include extras or the $1,095 destination fee.

Best Deals on 2023 Toyota GR Corolla

2023 Toyota GR Corolla Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
1.6L Turbo Inline-3 Gas
6-Speed Manual
All-Wheel Drive
Circuit Edition
1.6L Turbo Inline-3 Gas
6-Speed Manual
All-Wheel Drive
Morizo Edition
1.6L Turbo Inline-3 Gas
6-Speed Manual
All-Wheel Drive
See All 2023 Toyota GR Corolla Trims and Specs

2023 Toyota GR Corolla Handling and Driving Impressions

Any review of the 2023 Toyota GR Corolla will show that it isn't a straight-line speed demon; a number of rivals will beat it in a sprint. It's about driver interactivity, being in the right gear, staying in the meat of the torque curve, and using the AWD settings to get the most out of the car. It's not a set-and-forget type of car, for that would sell it short: It's for the thinking driver who appreciates that the GR can be civilized and well-behaved with a pliant ride one moment, and transform into a rabid corner carver at the touch of the appropriate mode button the next. Fat Michelin Pilot Sport high-performance summer tires provide limpet-like grip, and the GR's ability to slingshot from corner to corner is eye-widening. It's not a drift car, even with the torque split set to 30:70, rather preferring grip over the simulated drift of the FWD-biased Golf R's trick rear diff that overpowers the outside rear wheel. The rear bias merely gives the resolutely secure GR Corolla a nice measure of rear-axle steerability.

Drivers might find themselves leaning on the rev-matching feature for downshifts because the pedals are, sadly, not spaced ideally for heel-and-toe antics. You have to concentrate, too, because the big turbocharger needs revs to spool up and provide instant response; it's the driver's sole responsibility to ensure that they are in the appropriate gear. Get it right, and you'll be grinning like a lunatic on your favorite mountain road.

Verdict: Is The 2023 Toyota GR Corolla A Good car?

If your idea of a hot hatch is about disciplined power delivery, cabin ambiance, and the availability of a slick-shifting auto, then a VW Golf R might be more up your alley. An arguably bigger threat is the brilliant new Civic Type R, which does an amazing job extracting superb performance and handling balance from a FWD package, yet also provides the best shift action in the business and lots of space for passengers and cargo. It balances thrills and practicality the best in this class.

Where does this leave the 2023 GR Corolla? It's a selfish choice, denying your passengers some space and refinement in favor of putting the driver first. It changes personality, depending on the drivetrain setting dialed in. It's a one-owner dog that gives passengers the side eye while waiting to perform the driver's next instruction with boisterous enthusiasm. It has the unshakeable all-weather grip of the Golf but adds a whole new dimension of AWD adjustability, thanks to a proper rally-derived AWD system. It has the sense of fun and driver interaction of the Honda but will leave the Type R for dead on a snowy winter day. It will appeal to an audience that can appreciate its significance and its unique set of attributes. We're that audience - and we can't wait to get one.

What 2023 Toyota GR Corolla Model Should I Buy?

With the new GR Corolla's Core trim's price starting at $35,900, it's very good value and the best buy in the range. Considering the Toyota GR Corolla specs are shared throughout the range, with the exception of the limited-run Morizo. It's not perfect and needs to be specced up a little to add what we regard as essential, with at least the $1,180 Performance package on the list to get the limited-slip diffs. Even if you add all the other available options via the most expensive $2,450 package, you still come out more than $4,500 cheaper than the Circuit Edition trim - and under $40,000 - netting you a car with all of the Circuit Edition's abilities, just not the exterior styling changes like the big wing and domed hood. Keeping the total price of the Toyota GR Corolla below $40k makes the most sense against its expensive rivals; value for money remains a key selling point.

2023 Toyota GR Corolla Video Reviews

Check out some informative Toyota GR Corolla video reviews below.

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