Toyota has turned its performance-vehicle skunkworks division, Gazoo Racing, loose to apply the tuner treatment to the compact Corolla hatchback. And what a good bit of work they’ve done: the end result is the 2023 GR Corolla—and it’s a little terror. Toyota has already unleashed a GR-tuned version of its Yaris subcompact car in global markets, from which the GR Corolla borrows its turbocharged 1.6-liter, three-cylinder engine. The little triple is amped up here to 300 high-strung horsepower and comes only with a six-speed manual transmission and all-wheel drive. Toyota’s been on a crusade in recent years to add excitement to its lineup with sportier offerings—witness the revived Supra sports car—and more stylish designs and this rally-racer-inspired hot hatchback should help that effort. We expect to see the GR Corolla in Toyota showrooms before the end of 2022.
What’s New for 2023?
The GR Corolla will be a new addition to the Toyota lineup for 2023 and will go up against popular sport compacts such as the Honda Civic Si, Hyundai Veloster N, and the 10Best award-winning Volkswagen Golf GTI and Jetta GLI. In fact, given its price and horsepower, the GR Corolla will likely challenge the topmost tier of hot hatches—the Volkswagen Golf R and the upcoming Honda Civic Type R.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
We’d stick with the Core trim and splurge on the Performance package, which adds front and rear limited-slip differentials. The top-spec Morizo Edition trim will be built in very limited numbers—only 200 will be produced for 2023—and it’s been stripped of its rear seat and several other components to reduce weight and maximize performance.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Under the hood of the GR Corolla is a turbocharged three-cylinder engine plucked from the GR Yaris—a hatchback that the Japanese automaker sells in global markets outside of the United States. For the GR Corolla, it was tuned up to make 300 horsepower—an eye-opening 185.4 horsepower per liter, and 43 horsepower more than it makes in the GR Yaris. A six-speed manual is the only transmission available, and all models come with Toyota’s GR-Four all-wheel drive system. The GR-Four system allows the driver to choose between different power-distribution modes, starting with a 60/40 front-to-rear split for every day driving to up to 30/70 to allow for drifting antics; a 50/50 split option is intended to provide maximum traction for racing. Current examples of the Corolla, even sporty SE and XSE models, don’t offer remotely racy handling or performance, but upgrades to the GR’s suspension and powertrain make it a legitimate contender in the sport compact car segment. The Circuit Edition trim comes standard with front and rear limited slip differentials; the base Core model offers those as an option. The limited-edition Morizo is a track-focused model that comes with lighter-weight forged wheels, a retuned engine that produces 295 pound-feet of torque (the standard model makes 273 lb-ft), a uniquely calibrated suspension, and ultra-sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 rubber.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
While the current Corolla is both one of the more fuel-efficient options in its class and thoroughly somnambulant in its driving character, the high-performance GR variant is aimed purely at maximum performance. Thanks to its small 1.6-liter, three-cylinder engine, it should still deliver relatively decent fuel economy. We expect an EPA highway rating of around 30 mpg, which falls right between the Veloster N (29 mpg highway) and the Golf GTI (32 mpg highway). For more information about the GR Corolla’s fuel economy, visit the EPA’s website.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The GR Corolla shares most of its cabin with the standard Corolla hatchback, which means good build quality, soft-touch materials, and plenty of features, but with racier trim and sport seats. Standard equipment includes ambient interior lighting, a six-way adjustable driver’s seat, push-button start, and aluminum pedal covers. Automatic climate control, heated seats, and a heated steering wheel are all standard on the Circuit Edition, which also wears suede and faux-leather upholstery in place of the base model’s cloth. The Morizo Edition promises an even higher level of excitement but at the cost of practicality; Toyota has removed the rear seat, rear speakers, and even the hatchback-mounted window wiper to save as much weight as possible. Less weight equals quicker lap times. The front seats are treated to an exclusive red-and-black upholstery scheme and there’s racy faux-suede on the shift knob, parking brake lever, and steering wheel rim.
Infotainment and Connectivity
An 8.0-inch infotainment display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will be standard and also includes Amazon Alexa capability and an on-board Wi-Fi hotspot. The Technology package on Core models adds an eight-speaker JBL stereo system, a wireless smartphone charging pad, and in-dash navigation; these items are all standard on the Circuit Edition.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
Toyota currently offers much of its driver-assistance technology as standard on most of its lineup, and the GR Corolla is no different. A host of desirable tech features are bundled together across the lineup and includes adaptive cruise control, pedestrian and cyclist detection, and automatic high-beam headlamps. For more information about the GR Corolla’s crash-test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites. Key safety features include:
- Standard automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection
- Standard lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist
- Standard adaptive cruise control
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
Like other Toyotas, the GR Corolla will come with a standard warranty package that’s enhanced by a two-year complimentary scheduled maintenance plan. Honda doesn’t offer such a plan on the Civic Si, but the Veloster N offers more value in the form of longer warranty periods as well as an extra year of free maintenance. All GR Corollas come with a one-year membership to the National Auto Sport Association, which includes access to a complimentary high-performance driving class.
- Limited warranty covers 3 years or 36,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers 5 years or 60,000 miles
- Complimentary maintenance is covered for 2 years or 25,000 miles