2023 Toyota GR Corolla hot hatch ready to romp with 300 hp, 6-speed manual, and AWD

The Corolla nameplate has been synonymous with reliability for decades, but it’s also been synonymous with a less flattering adjective: boring. Toyota is seeking to change that by finally giving the compact car a real high-performance version (the Apex sedan introduced in 2021 doesn’t count): the 2023 GR Corolla, developed by Toyota’s Gazoo Racing performance division.

While the 2023 GR Corolla debuted Thursday evening via livestream, it leaked earlier in the day on Toyota’s website on a staging URL. It didn’t take long for keen eyes to spot the page and post about it on Reddit. We’ve updated this piece with the latest information on the car, since the information on that page was incomplete.

For enthusiasts, this is the most exciting Corolla-related development since the AE86 was offered back in the 1980s, but it shouldn’t be a surprise if you’ve been following the breadcrumbs. In 2020, Toyota announced it would be bringing a hot hatch to the U.S. and that it would not be the existing GR Yaris The hot hatch was teased in a promotional video as well. But now we know that it’s a Corolla and that despite the difference in nameplate the GR Corolla does borrow heavily from its smaller GR Yaris counterpart.

2023 Toyota GR Corolla

2023 Toyota GR Corolla

2023 Toyota GR Corolla

2023 Toyota GR Corolla

That starts under the hood where the GR Corolla uses the same G16E-GTS 1.6-liter turbocharged 3-cylinder engine as the GR Yaris, but with a power upgrade. It makes 300 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque in this application, a big jump over the GR Yaris’ 268 hp, though torque figures remain unchanged. Toyota says this is due to strengthening internal components and better exhaust efficiency via a three-piece muffler, as shown by the trio of exhaust tips poking out of the rear diffuser. Peak torque kicks in from 3,000-5,500 rpm and peak hp arrives at 6,500 rpm.

Toyota declined to provide a 0-60 mph time or a top speed, saying those figures will be released closer to the car’s on-sale date. For reference, the GR Yaris offers a 0-60 mph time of less than 5.5 seconds and a 142 mph top speed. It will be interesting to see if the larger and heavier GR Corolla can match those times as its 3,249 pound curb weight is about 350 lb more than the GR Yaris.

It will also feature the same GR-Four all-wheel-drive system and only come with a 6-speed manual transmission with downshift rev-matching. The AWD system allows the driver to choose from three levels of front/rear power split: 60/40, 30/70, or 50/50. The 60/40 split is for everyday use and 30/70 is for the Sport mode, while the 50/50 setting is meant for high-performance. Toyota says that GR Corolla should be comfortable on both tarmac and loose surfaces like dirt/snow, like a true rally car.

Though it rides on the same GA-C platform as the regular Corolla, the GR Corolla gets a more rigid body that was specially designed for this car. Up front are MacPherson-type struts and the rear suspension is a double-wishbone multilink setup that replaces the torsion-beam on the standard Corolla. The standard 18-inch gloss black wheels also come wrapped in sticky Michelin Pilot Sport 4 summer tires. The brakes have also been upgraded and feature 14.0-inch ventilated and slotted rotors with four-piston calipers up front, and 11.7-inch ventilated rotors with two-piston calipers in the rear. Front and rear Torsen limited-slip differentials are optional, but they do come standard on the Circuit Edition, the higher of the two trim levels. The Core trim is the base model and will be the first one available when the car debuts later this year.

2023 Toyota GR Corolla

2023 Toyota GR Corolla

2023 Toyota GR Corolla

2023 Toyota GR Corolla

Compared to the standard Corolla hatchback, the GR Corolla offers meaner styling to match its added power. Bulging fenders make it 2.4 inches wider and a widened, blacked out grille is flanked by functional air ducts on either side. Down the sides, prominent sills are tagged with a “GR-Four” logo as a nod to its AWD system. The triple exhaust outlets have a large oval tailpipe in the middle, flanked by circular tailpipes on either side. Core models come with a subtle gloss black lip spoiler (the prototype’s is body colored but Toyota says it will be black on the production vehicle), but the Circuit Edition is far less subtle with a large protruding rear spoiler finished in matte black.

Core models will be offered with white, black, or red exterior paint and a body-colored roof. Every GR Corolla will come standard with an 8.0-inch touchscreen that runs the new Toyota Audio Multimedia system that debuted on the 2022 Tundra and offers wireless Android Auto/Apple CarPlay connectivity. The 12.3-inch display in the instrument panel will also add GR themed performance displays that relay information like turbo pressure, gear position, and which AWD mode is in use. Also standard will be aluminum sport pedals, push-button start, and Toyota Safety Sense 3.0, which includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, active lane control, blind-spot monitors, and adaptive cruise control, among other safety features.

2023 Toyota GR Corolla

2023 Toyota GR Corolla

2023 Toyota GR Corolla

2023 Toyota GR Corolla

2023 Toyota GR Corolla

2023 Toyota GR Corolla

2023 Toyota GR Corolla

2023 Toyota GR Corolla

The Circuit Edition looks far more exciting thanks mostly to that spoiler and prominent functional vents on the hood that are also finished in black. It will go on sale in 2023 and will be limited to 1,500 units for the U.S. market. Paint colors include white, red, or matte gray, and the Circuit Edition also adds a forged carbon-fiber roof, red brake calipers, and an exclusive Morizo signed shift knob—Morizo being the alias Akio Toyoda drove under at the 24 Hours of Nürburgring in 2007. Inside, it will feature Brin Naub suede-trimmed front sport seats and red accents around the cabin (instead of the Core’s silver), and comes standard with heated seats, a heated steering wheel, a wireless charging pad, and a JBL audio system standard—all of those features will be optional on the Core.

The 2023 GR Corolla will be built at the Gazoo Racing factory in Motomachi, Japan, alongside the GR Yaris. Toyota said rather vaguely that the GR Corolla will go on sale sometime this year and pricing information will be released closer to that. But the automaker did say it hopes to sell around 6,000-7,000 of the Core models for the 2023 model year, in addition to all of the Circuit Editions.

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