Bringing Back the Hot Hatch: 2023 Toyota GR Corolla
Making good on a promise for more-exciting products, Toyota reveals a turbocharged, AWD compact 5-door hatchback due later this year.
Fulfilling a commitment to offer more thrilling rolling stock, on March 31, Toyota revealed its new 2023 GR Corolla, a turbocharged, all-wheel-drive (AWD) 5-door C-class hot hatchback developed by its Gazoo Racing (GR) performance division. Sharing drivetrain components with the smaller and not-for-U.S.-sale GR Yaris, the sinister-looking compact’s sole transmission offering will be a rev-matching 6-speed manual. With only a few front-wheel-drive competitors remaining in the segment, including Honda’s Civic Type-R and Hyundai’s Veloster N, Toyota provided no pricing, but confirmed the AWD GR Corolla will go on sale in the U.S. later this year.
As Toyota Gazoo Racing’s first wholly developed and manufactured model for the North American market, the GR Corolla is propelled by a more-powerful version of the G16E-GTS turbocharged, direct/port injected 3-cylinder engine used in the GR Yaris. In the GR Corolla, the 1,618-cc I-3 delivers 300 hp (224 kW) and 273 lb-ft (370 Nm) – a 32 hp/24 kW gain compared to the GR Yaris. The 12-valve, DOHC mill features a single-scroll ball-bearing turbo integrated into the exhaust manifold, providing peak torque from 3000-5500 rpm and max hp at 6500 rpm.
The GR Corolla features the same GR-Four AWD system from the GR Yaris and provides selectable power-distribution settings, giving drivers a choice of 60/40, 50/50 or 30/70 front/rear power splits. Open front and rear differentials are standard, with optional Torsen limited-slip differentials available at both axles.
Dedicated GR production
Toyota has established a dedicated GR production center at its factory in Motomachi, Japan (previously home to Lexus LFA supercar production), which will manage assembly of both the GR Corolla and Yaris. The GR Corolla is built on Toyota’s GA-C platform, with enhanced frame reinforcements developed at the Motomachi plant. The additional rigidity comes from “significantly more” frame-weld points to strengthen joints, and extensive use of structural adhesives to increase joint rigidity between components.
Eschewing a traditional conveyor system, the GR Corolla’s body and assembly lines consist of multiple stations serviced by automatic guided vehicles (AGVs). Toyota claims that although this setup takes longer than a conventional mass-produced car, the fully flexible method enables many manual-assembly techniques to ensure precise body and suspension alignment, while reducing variations in vehicle dimensions and keeping additional weight to a minimum.
With a 103.9-in. (2,639 mm) wheelbase, the GA Corolla’s front suspension is a MacPherson-strut type managed by coil springs, shock absorbers and stabilizer bars. The rear suspension uses a double-wishbone type multilink system. The car’s serious intent is highlighted by its upsized brakes (14 x 1.1-in. ventilated and slotted brake rotors with 4-piston aluminum calipers up front; 11.7-in. x 0.7-in. ventilated rotors with 2-piston aluminum calipers out back) and sticky Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires (235/40R18) at each corner.
The GR Corolla will come in two grades, Core and Circuit Edition. The Core trim will be available first in late 2022. The limited-run (1,500 units for the U.S.) Circuit Edition will arrive in 2023, equipped with most of the Core-grade options, including the Torsen differentials, a technology package with premium JBL audio and Qi-compatible wireless charging and a cold-weather package sporting heated front seats and steering wheel. The GR Corolla also will provide owners with a complimentary 1-year membership in the National Auto Sport Association, featuring a high-performance driving event with expert instruction.