2023 Toyota GR Corolla First Look Review: The 300-HP Anti-Corolla

First Look / 8 Comments

The practical family hatch is now a track-ready brute.

The Toyota GR Yaris is probably the best performance car to come from the Japanese marque in years, but it's forbidden fruit in the United States. Fortunately, the GR Corolla has finally been revealed to appease Toyota enthusiasts who have been severely starved of a hot hatchback option. The GR Corolla arrives with a 1.6-liter 300-horsepower three-cylinder turbo engine, the GR-Four all-wheel-drive system, and a six-speed intelligent manual transmission. Carefully honed at several of Japan's leading racing circuits with professional drivers at the wheel, Toyota Gazoo Racing has thrown all its race-inspired engineering tricks at the GR Corolla, a car that aims to give the Honda Civic Type R nightmares.

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When Is The Toyota GR Corolla Coming Out?

The Toyota GR Corolla's release date is later in 2022, although this specifically applies to the Core trim level. The limited-run Circuit Edition, meanwhile (which is the one you really want), will be coming out in spring 2023 and is a launch-year-exclusive model. There is also the Morizo Edition and that is expected to arrive in winter 2023.

2023 Toyota GR Corolla Price and Competition

There is a significant difference in price from one trim to the next. The price of the 2023 Toyota GR Corolla in the USA starts at a competitive $35,900 MSRP for the Core, increasing to $42,900 for the Circuit Edition and $49,900 for the Morizo Edition.

Rivals will include the latest Volkswagen Golf R and the upcoming Honda Civic Type R. The Golf R is also available with a manual gearbox and starts at $43,645. It's a little more powerful than the Toyota and is a more premium choice, but we expect the GR Corolla's racy three-pot and playful chassis to be even more fun. How close to the MSRP dealers list the GR Corolla for is another story altogether.

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New Toyota GR Corolla Exterior

This is by far the most aggressive interpretation of the current Corolla we've seen. From any angle, the Toyota GR Corolla's exterior has been embellished by racy touches that are both functional and eye-catching. In front, there's a unique GR-badged matrix grille with air ducts on either side. The Circuit Edition has a gloss-black grille and integrated LED fog lamps, but both models have LED DRLs. Bulbous front and rear fender flares are hard to miss, and the wheels are 18-inch cast alloy items with 15 narrow spokes.

At the back, the first element to catch your eyes will be the triple exhaust with stainless steel pipes. The design lowers exhaust pressure and outside noise, and the three-piece muffler with valves boosts efficiency. Both models have a rear lower bumper cover with functional air vents, including a gloss-black finish for the Circuit Edition. The latter model also boasts a carbon-fiber roof. This roof is fashioned from a forged carbon sheet molding compound instead of a woven type, further lowering the center of gravity. These aren't the obsessive weight-saving choices typically associated with a car bearing the Corolla badge.

The Toyota GR Corolla's colors include white, black, and Supersonic Red for the Core trim, whereas the Circuit Edition replaces black with Heavy Metal. Only the Morizo Edition is available with Windchill Pearl and Smoke with a matte finish, as pictured below. The Morizo also comes with a forged carbon fiber roof, a rear lip spoiler, and a vented bulge hood.

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Toyota GR Corolla Dimensions

Compared to the base Toyota Corolla Hatchback, the 2023 Toyota GR Corolla is 1.5 inches longer and 2.4 inches wider. The 103.9-inch wheelbase is common to both models, but the Toyota GR Corolla's unique dimensions include a length of 173.5 inches, a width of 72.9 inches, and a height of 58.2 inches including the antenna.

The curb weight of the GR Corolla is 3,252 pounds, close to 200 lbs more than the front-wheel-drive Corolla Hatchback. That weight rises to 3,262 lbs with the dual LSD option. Heaviest of all is the Circuit Edition at 3,285 lbs, while the Morizo - with no back seat - is the lightest: it weighs 3,186 lbs.

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Toyota GR Corolla Engine And Performance

One of the highlights of the GR Yaris is its potent 1.6-liter three-cylinder turbocharged engine that produces 261 horsepower. The Toyota GR Corolla's engine is the same one but it has been tuned to deliver an impressive 300 hp at 6,500 rpm and 273 lb-ft of torque between 3,000 and 5,500 rpm. The Morizo has a higher maximum boost and its torque peak is between 3,250 and 4,600 rpm. That's transferred to the GR-Four all-wheel-drive system via a six-speed manual gearbox. The G16E-GTS engine's greater output here is a result of better engine exhaust efficiency with a three-piece muffler. Toyota estimates that the GR Corolla needs just five seconds for the benchmark 0-60 mph sprint. At this point, mpg ratings remain a mystery.

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It's on the track where the GR Yaris truly excels and the GR Corolla has been on the receiving end of numerous modifications over the normal Corolla to achieve the same. Based on the GA-C platform, a highly rigid body was uniquely constructed for the GR Corolla. The AWD system comes with three front/rear power splits: 60:40 for everyday driving, 30:70 for more dynamic, engaging characteristics on the track, or 50:50 for maximum stability.

The Circuit Edition and Morizo additionally come with front and rear Torsen limited-slip differentials, which is an option on the Core trim. This enhances performance and grip during cornering. Wide tread tires further cement the GR Corolla's driver-focused appeal; the lower two trims have Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires fitted by default, whereas the Morizo wears Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 rubber. There's also a powerful braking system with opposed, fixed-caliper disc brakes. In front, there are 14 x 1.1-inch ventilated and slotted rotors.

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Toyota GR Corolla Interior And Cargo

As with the exterior, Toyota Gazoo Racing implemented a raft of changes to the regular Corolla's cabin for this GR model. Unsurprisingly, many of these changes take place in the vicinity of the driver's seat. A new GR full TFT meter measures 12.3 inches and displays information like turbo pressure, the selected 4WD mode, and the gear position indicator. The shift lever has a shorter stroke for quicker throws, and the analog nature of the car is reflected in the use of a pull-type mechanical parking brake. A sporty GR-specific steering wheel is standard on the Circuit Edition, which also gets a "Morizo" signed shift knob inside.

Adding to the racy feel of the Toyota GR Corolla's interior are seats that are upholstered in Brin Naub suede and synthetic leather, with red stitching and red mesh inserts for the Circuit Edition. These seats are finished in fabric with gray stitching for the Core trim. The Morizo has an Ultrasuede-wrapped steering wheel, semi bucket sports seats with red stitching and red mesh inserts, and a signature shift knob.

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All variants come with a GR start/stop button, dual USB charging ports, and the Toyota Audio Multimedia system with an eight-inch touchscreen. A six-speaker sound system is standard but the Circuit Edition adds navigation and eight JBL speakers. In an effort to save weight, the Morizo doesn't have rear door speakers.

Despite its hyper focus on performance, the GR Corolla still comes with safety equipment like dynamic radar cruise control, a pre-collision system, and lane departure alert. As far as the Toyota GR Corolla's cargo space goes, the manufacturer hasn't released official figures for volume behind the second row but we expect it to be the same practical space as its lesser siblings. Hopefully, there are shopping bag hooks back there to prevent items from flailing about when the GR Corolla's capabilities are exploited on a twisty road. Speaking of, Toyota gives buyers a complimentary, one-year membership to the National Auto Sport Association, "featuring a high-performance driving event with expert instruction." Not only will the car be capable, but buyers will too.

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