When Toyota announced the arrival of something new for the Corolla brand, enthusiasts couldn't help but raise their eyebrows with anticipation. After all, they had been longing for something exciting and fun from the Corolla lineup. Toyota's big revelation was the introduction of the first-ever 2023 GR Corolla in the United States – a hot hatch that got everyone excited.
GR, short for Gazoo Racing, might sound amusing, but the real focus is on the Racing aspect. And indeed, the GR Corolla is a hatchback, which further fueled the enthusiasm. Toyota went the extra mile to thrill enthusiasts by offering the GR Corolla exclusively with a manual transmission, adding to the appeal of this race-inspired hot hatch.
Performance-wise, Toyota's PR team proudly proclaimed that the GR Corolla can handle the heat of the streets, and they weren't wrong. Under the hood, this rally-ready hatch boasts a G16E-GTS turbo-charged, direct/port injected three-cylinder engine, packing an impressive 300 hp and 273 lb.-ft. of torque. The power is channeled through a triple exhaust system, providing a throaty and distinctive growl. Toyota considers the GR Corolla a worthy addition to the Toyota sports car family, and its performance credentials make it hard to argue otherwise.
To harness this power effectively, the GR Corolla is equipped with an all-wheel drive system that can be customized to adjust power distribution between the front and rear wheels. Drivers can choose from a 50/50, 60/40, or 30/70 ratio depending on their preferences and driving conditions.
Built on Toyota's GA-C platform, the GR Corolla's hatchback styling gives it a youthful vibe and an attractive appearance. The design incorporates functional front air vents, optimizing both aesthetics and performance. The enhanced frame reinforcements, specifically developed for the GR Corolla, ensure a low center of gravity and superior hatchback aerodynamics, further enhancing its performance capabilities.
The Corolla GR comes in two trims, each sporting hip and youthful names – Core and Circuit. The Core Edition, which I had the opportunity to test, is available in three eye-catching colors: white, black, and Supersonic Red. It boasts a color-keyed roof with a black rear lip spoiler, GR-Four stamped side rockers, and wide-fender flares, adding to its overall sporty appeal.
Stepping inside the GR Corolla Core Edition, you'll find a race-inspired interior with fabric seats, proudly displaying the GR logo. Emphasizing the racing technology, the car features a true cockpit-like interior equipped with a 12.3-inch color Multi-Information Display (MID). The GR meter on the display provides crucial information, such as 4WD mode, turbo pressure, gear position indicator, and tachometer. Additionally, the display greets drivers with a captivating start-up GR animation.
Toyota introduces a new infotainment system in the GR Corolla, featuring a user-friendly 8-inch touchscreen-based Toyota Audio Multimedia system. This system represents an evolution for Toyota, departing from their conservative approach in the past. The infotainment system offers enhanced connectivity, convenience features, and the ability to receive Over-the-Air (OTA) updates.
In conclusion, the Toyota GR Corolla is a thrilling hot hatch that lives up to the hype. With its racing pedigree, captivating aesthetics, and performance-oriented features, this hatchback proves that Toyota is fully committed to delivering excitement to its fans. So, gear up for an exhilarating ride in the first-ever GR Corolla – a true standout in the world of hot hatches.