That charismatic engine may just give it the edge over the Golf R and Civic Type R.
Toyota has introduced several appealing performance offerings of late, such as the manual Supra and new-generation GR86. Despite this, enthusiasts were troubled when the automaker announced the GR Yaris wouldn't make it stateside. But, as a consolation, Toyota revealed the hugely exciting GR Corolla earlier this year and this will be making its way to local shores.
The standard model already looks promising but, if you want the ultimate experience, you're better off with the limited Morizo Edition. It's the priciest of the bunch but justifies the premium with an extra dose of torque and several other upgrades. These bits and pieces come in handy on the track, as seen below.
With famed automotive photographer Larry Chen behind the wheel, the Toyota sets off with a mighty rasp from its three-cylinder motor. The all-wheel-drive hot hatch leaps off the line with authority and as Chen approaches the 7,000 rpm redline, he stirs the slick-shifting six-speed manual with precision.
Aside from the delightful growl permeating the cabin, there's plenty of turbo whistle to enjoy. Some may lament the looming EV era and the downsizing trend that overlaps with it, but Toyota has proven that fun and displacement aren't mutually exclusive.
As the GR Corolla makes its way around Utah Motorsport Campus, it dives into corners with glee, and grips to the surface with tenacity, clawing itself towards the apex.
So what sets the Morizo Edition apart from lesser GR Corollas? As mentioned, the $49,900 range-topper receives 22 extra lb-ft (the standard models make 273 lb-ft) but power remains unchanged, with 300 horses on tap. The limited edition model also has stickier Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, a close-ratio transmission, and shorter differential gears.
But the biggest change can be found inside. Toyota put the Morizo on a crash diet, stripping it of the rear seats, speakers, and window regulators. Even the rear wiper blade was evicted from its position. On top of that, the Morizo also receives a forged carbon fiber roof and a set of forged wheels. The result? It's 100 pounds lighter, and that makes a huge difference on the track.
Sadly, not many people will get to experience this brilliance, as Toyota has limited production to 200 units. Still, those who can't get their hands on one should be happy with the standard model, available in Core and Circuit trims. Priced to do battle with the admittedly anodyne Golf R and the all-new Civic Type R, the battle for hot hatch supremacy will be hotly contested.
While the Golf will almost certainly be more comfortable and civilized for daily duties, it's unlikely to thrill as much as the Japanese duo. Then again, the Honda falls short as it doesn't offer all-wheel drive like its rivals. It does have the strongest power and torque figures, though. We can't wait to see these three square up against each other, preferably on a tight and technical circuit.