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Toyota’s GR Corolla Makes its Debut: A Home Run for the Automaker?

2023 Toyota GR Corolla, avant
Photo: Toyota
2023 Toyota GR Corolla, avant

Toyota may have just hit a home run, to use a baseball term in honour of the new season about to get under way. We’re talking, of course, about the official debut of the GR Corolla, an ultra-sporty variant of the Japanese automaker’s flagship car.

The letters GR, remember, refer to Toyota's performance and racing division, Gazoo Racing. The vehicles bearing these letters are a testament to the company's seriousness in this area. We already had the GR Supra and the GR86, and they get a new stablemate in the souped-up Corolla.

The big unveiling of the model took place this evening in Long Beach, California.

The GR Corolla, as befitting a pocket rocket, gets a 1.6L turbocharged 3-cylinder engine under the hood; it delivers 300 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. Those number are close to those available to the Honda Civic Type R. We're also entering a world recently abandoned by Subaru, which recently confirmed that there will be no follow-up to the current WRX STI, if you’ll recall.

That last sad fact only makes this an even more promising new release for Toyota, which must be thrilled to get this opportunity.

Now, a little more about this car that will come in two versions in its first year on the market, and that will offer four-wheel drive for the ultimate experience.

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2023 Toyota GR Corolla, on the track
Photo: Toyota
2023 Toyota GR Corolla, on the track

The versions
Two models will be offered in Canada. First will come the Core version, expected later this year. It comes, as they say, well equipped, with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, 8-inch screen multimedia system and heated seats (though no heated steering wheel). The interior will of course have a sporty feel, helped by the presence of wraparound sport bucket seats.

The effect is pretty convincing and makes us want to take this thing on the road.

In 2023, a special limited-edition version will be offered. The Circuit Edition will push some limits, getting a carbon-fibre roof, different spoiler and bulging hood with air intakes. Its sport seats get suede accents and its shifter beasr the Morizo signature. This variant will also stand out on the track thanks to limited-slip differentials (Torsen) front and rear. The model promises a more efficient distribution of torque from left to right and vice versa.

The colours choices, well they’re pretty straightforward: white, black and red (supersonic) for the Core version, white, red, and Heavy Metal for the Circuit Edition.

The models integrated the Toyota Safety Sense 3.0 safety suite that delivers a slew of features. The GR Corolla is assembled on the company's GA-C platform.

Pricing, you guessed it, will be announced later.

2023 Toyota GR Corolla, interior
Photo: Toyota
2023 Toyota GR Corolla, interior

The mechanics
As for that 3-cylinder engine, it's a reworked version of the block found under the hood of the GR Yaris that's offered elsewhere on the planet.

In the GR Corolla, it will prove to be the most efficient at high RPM. We're told that torque will be optimized between 3,000 and 5,500 RPM, while the maximum number of horses will be available at 6,000 RPM. That's promising.

Only a 6-speed manual transmission will be used. Any other type would frankly have been heresy.

As for the all-wheel drive, it was developed by the folks at Gazoo Racing and is of course inspired by rally racing. The most interesting thing is without a doubt an option that allows drivers to manage the power distribution according to three preset parameters, in order to give the car a different personality.

That's promising too.

The GR Corolla will be equipped with 18-inch Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires (235/40R18).

2023 Toyota GR Corolla, wheel
Photo: Toyota
2023 Toyota GR Corolla, wheel

And, of course, everything is designed for performance with such a machine. The centre of gravity is lowered, thanks in part to the aluminum hood and door panels. The aerodynamics have also been greatly improved to make the car more efficient and more glued to the ground.

A lot of other technical details were shared with us by Toyota, including the exhaust system which has been reworked to improve power, but we'll come back with that kind of information when it comes time to actually test drive the GR Corolla.

Which, we confess, will definitely be one of the highlights of the months ahead.

Until then, we'll leave you with the images (different from those that leaked earlier today), and our first impression which is that the GR Corolla seem pretty darn promising for driving enthusiasts. 

2023 Toyota GR Corolla, three-quarters rear
Photo: Toyota
2023 Toyota GR Corolla, three-quarters rear
Photos:Toyota
2023 Toyota GR Corolla pictures