For an all-new sports car with all-wheel drive and manual transmission – and also Be a hatchback – unheard of this aspect of the new decade. The death and burial of the Ford Focus RS and Subaru Impreza WRX STI hatchback. Volkswagen Golf R… okay? Taking advantage of the rarity of heated 4WD slots, Toyota could easily have called it quits and waved us a warm Corolla with some bolt-on bits and told us to be grateful for what we got.
But she didn’t. What gives us instead is a 21-shot driving salute, one developed with Akio “Morizo” Toyoda himself closely involved every step of the way. With such a driving force behind the development of the car, how bad could it be?
Toyota GR Corolla 2023 specifications
- Base price (Circuit and Morizo versions as tested): $36,995 ($42,900; $50,995)
- drivetrain: 1.6L TURBO THREE CYLINDER | 6-speed manual | All Wheel Drive
- horse power: 300 at 6500 rpm
- Base class and circuit version: 273 lb-ft @ 3000 to 5550 rpm
- Morezo version: 295 lb-ft @ 3250 to 4600 rpm
- Base class and circuit version: 4.99 seconds (estimated)
- Morezo version: 4.92 seconds (estimated)
- maximum speed: 142.9 mph
- Base class and circuit version: 5
- Morezo version: 2
- Circuit Release Load Capacity and Basic Class: 17.8 cubic feet
- curb weight: 3186 to 3285 pounds
- wheelbase: 103.9 inches
- Length: 173.6 inches
- Show: 72.8 inches
- EPA fuel economy: 21 mpg city | 28 highway | 24 combined
- Quick take: Holy shit.
- result: 9.5 / 10
Deprived and severely dehydrated, we soaked up every last drop of GR Corolla information that had leaked in the months leading up to it.
We know it’s offered exclusively with all-wheel drive (which can be modified to provide 60/40, 50/50 or 30/70 torque distribution) and a six-speed manual transmission. It has a turbocharged, 1.6-liter, 300-hp, three-cylinder engine called the G16E-GTS — which puts it in the same cylinder league as the Smart Fortwo, Ford Fiesta, Focus and BMW i8, if you want to think of it that way. We know why it has three exhaust pipes and a handbrake, which is a rarity today! We know about the track-focused Morizo version, with the rear seat and extra torque omitted.
Putting photos on Tarmac
Most of the seat time Toyota gave us in our GR Corolla media preview was on a two-mile wide circuit at the Utah Motorsports Campus, so this review will be largely based on that.
With the helmet on, it was hard to properly assess the car’s NVH qualities, but who actually considers a GR Corolla for cabin serenity?
Clutch roll—well-weighted with a progressive clutch point—the GR Corolla attaches smoothly. And because it uses an Aisin gearbox, itself a variation on that found on the GR Yaris, the feel of the huge shift was tight and precise. It’s the heavy push-and-pull kind that makes you want to shift just for the feel. Naoyuki Sakamoto, the car’s chief engineer, tells me that he and his team have added stiffer transmission cable liners, and that the GR transmission’s stroke, overall, is 25 percent shorter than it is on the regular Corolla.
The engine roared along second gear out of the pits and onto the track, and the engine buzzed with hazy expectations and potential like a bottle of vibrating ginger ale. Then it was obvious to put him on the floor, and so did I.
All four tires were drilled to launch the GR Corolla toward the first corner, pulling the G16E-GTS hard into the top of its rev range. The F1-style horizontal tachometer at the bottom of my peripheral vision flashes, indicating it’s time for a change. My first change was a touch more sloppy than I intended it to be—the throttle pedal is a little more responsive than I’m used to—but, man, that’s the transmission. Do it fast or do it slowly, but grabbing new gear always feels like an event.
Rear-biased all-wheel drive means I can push the car into a corner with minimal caution; It rewards fast hands with a quick nosedive and a healthy bend on the outer rear tire. Despite being an electronically assisted system, the steering was constantly chatting about what the front end was and gave it good weight as well. I felt that pushing the car around the bend actually required some effort on my part. At the same time, the seats were correctly supported and well fixed, unlike the new Nissan Z.
Braking felt individually between the amount of pedal pressure I applied and the amount of caliper pressure. There didn’t seem to be any dead zone on the brake pedal, so balancing the brakes with the throttle applied was a smooth affair.
The suspension was watered down to stay tough but without the crispness of other performance cars that bounce you off your streak if you like riding a rumble bar on top. Mostly, it felt like he was there to provide another point of contact.
And what about the engine? excellent. With the torque spur that Robert Kelly Slater wants, the GR Corolla’s power delivery is riotous but smooth. He likes to be grounded, he likes to run the pacer (which makes it cool and mechanical prab the noise).
Here, too, was evidence of her passion for Toyota: We squashed the always-loving shit out of these cars during the media event. Outside temperatures were kept at a warm 95 degrees Fahrenheit all day and our GR Corollas followed us non-stop, mostly with the AC turned on. With a short 30 minute break for lunch, all went well until it was time to check out at around 4pm.
I feel compelled to split Morizo’s limited edition into its own section just because it deserves more attention. I was so offended when I first saw their price – $51,000 for a damn Corolla, are they out of their fucking minds!? – But after a few laps in Morezo, I remembered a powerful lesson: drive before you sink. In essence, the car actually provides a $50,000 worth of driving experience.
Just as the GR Corolla isn’t just a Corolla with some quick bits, the Morizo Edition isn’t just a GR Corolla with a few touted modifications at a higher price. Its engineers have already worked on it and created a track car that even the most dedicated designer probably wouldn’t be able to easily (or cheaply) recreate with just a few aftermarket parts.
Not only does Morizo Edition benefit from the weight-saving rear seat omission, two structural support struts, and a forged carbon roof, but it also has Torsen LSDs front and rear, stiffer spring rates, forged alloy wheels, two Michelin Pilot Sport Cup tyres, more The boost means 22 lb-ft of more torque, and shorter gearing.
Practically speaking, it drives like a completely different car.
Nothing – and I mean nothing– I felt he could disturb this thing. Brakes eventually, last split second, rips off the steering wheel and shift knob as if he owes you money, backs hard on the gas – none of that mattered. Morizo’s version refused to bend, refused to slip, and refused to let go of his grip. As a matter of fact, he actually appears to be able to do some scary magic, even more Fist where there should be nothing.
The car was so loose that I could feel myself relaxing around it, trusting it more and more, and becoming more and more willing to poke it harder. It was like going back to the field in the break and someone dared to.
Upon returning, I had no words for what I had just tried. I can only laugh.
You have selected the perfect GR Corolla specifications
Like any good sports car, there aren’t a lot of options to decorate your GR Corolla. The biggest differences lie in the different designs. But given that the Circuit and Morizo versions will be sold in very limited numbers — 1,500 and 200 units, respectively — I expect most people will end up with the base version of $36,995. It is a very wonderful place.
Sure, it’s missing the forged carbon roof and forged wheels, but it has all the essential goodies like a hornet’s nest for the engine, all-wheel drive system and transmission. For the optional packages, I’d recommend the Performance Package, which gets double LSD for $1,180, and the Cold Weather package if you live in the Northeast like I do, which gives you heated front seats and a heated steering wheel. Forget the tech bundle; Why listen to music when you have a three-disc percussion?
Once again, provided no dealer interferes, his suggested spec comes to an MSRP of $38,675. Volkswagen Golf R. Started Over $44,000. It is not a GR Corolla.
If you frequent on a track, I’d say the Morizo version along the way. But if you’re looking to just sympathize with the car, then the rule of thumb with these two packages will work just fine.
The GR Corolla is one of those rare sports cars that run with you instead of against You are. Since it has the right amount of horsepower, you’ll never feel the danger of the engine coming back into applause because you feel its limits (as well as yours), and you never feel like you’re disappointing the car if you’re not going fast enough. He’s totally happy to keep up You areLike the coolest and most supportive professional dance partner in the world. All that matters is if You are happy times. Most of us don’t have friends that are that good.
I enjoy snuggly enjoying, “I told you so” just like the next person, so I’ll go ahead here: Since 2018, I knew offering the Corolla hatchback with a Manual would be a big deal. Just because it’s an affordable economy car doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be fun either. (Our own Peter Nelson agrees, acknowledging the Corolla’s base tunability.)
But I never, in my wildest dreams, thought that something like the GR Corolla would ever happen – and for us here in the States to boot! When I reported the official reveal of the car at the end of March, I called it an STD killer. But after driving it and sitting here now, thinking more about my experience, I got it back.
You can earn some, lose some; The new GR Corolla is an outrageous deal because it might be Toyota’s farewell to ICE-powered performance — and what a great middle finger for electrification and autonomy. However, it’s also unlike any of the STIs I’ve ever driven. In fact, not like Which The car I drove a very long time ago.
Instead, ghosts of old Mitsubishi Lancer Evolutions, specifically the X Final Edition, live in this car. Suddenly, their abuseability, their sheer levels of fist, echo but are familiar tones of a language long-lost and almost forgotten. Realize that, and we can tell that the GR Corolla is not a new territory. We’ve been here before.
It’s really good to be back.
Got a tip? Hola Lee: firstname.lastname@example.org
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