Toyota, an automaker known for ensuring safety with reliable but boring cars, has shoved its rally car powertrain into its Corolla economy car. With a trick all-wheel drive system and all the will to back it up, the Toyota GR Corolla is a riot.
2023 Toyota GR Corolla Core
Toyota adopted the same G16E-GTS 1.6-liter 3-cylinder turbo engine as the downsized GR Yaris for the GR Corolla. But in this application, power jumps from his 268 hp in the GR Yaris to his 300 hp, while torque hits 273 lb-ft. The single-scroll ball-bearing turbo delivers a decent amount of boost, but scrolling up takes a bit longer. Peak power doesn’t reach him until 3,000 rpm and he keeps going all out until the 7,000 rpm redline. With early shifts, the GR Corolla feels underpowered. Don’t be fooled. Getting there just takes heavy feet and long waits between shifts.
The GR Corolla has only 3 pedals and a 6-speed MT, so if you don’t #GiveAShift, you don’t need to apply. The gearbox features a short, positive throw, and the clutch is moderately weighted with a slightly grabby take-up point. Thank you Toyota.
One of the fun elements of the GR Corolla is its advanced all-wheel drive system that allows the driver to change the power distribution between front and rear, between 60/40, 30/70 and 50/50. A 60/40 front bias is intended for everyday use, but Sport mode switches the system to a 30/70 rear bias split. Toyota says the 50/50 split is for high performance driving. On public roads, his standard 60/40 split is fine, but when the road starts to twist, this Hot His hatch really shines when you switch your GR Corolla to a sport model. The 30/70 split makes it easy to slide the rear while the front pulls the pavement and pulls the car out of corners. This is the system that best reminds us of the old Mitsubishi Evo unlike any other on the market today.
Toyota says the GR Corolla sprints from 0-60 mph in 4.99 seconds, but our bat dyno can’t tell the difference between that and 5.0 seconds. Toyota may be too keen on analyzing the times, but the GR Corolla is still fast enough.
MacPherson strut suspension at the front and double wishbone suspension at the rear are combined with circuit-specific dampers, springs and stabilizer bars. It produces a solid ride, and I’m not sure you want to drive it on pockmarked Midwestern roads.
Circuit and Morisot models in upper trim are equipped with Torsen Limited Slip Differentials front and rear, but are optional on the base core model. The differential is part of the secret sauce that helps the GR Corolla keep power down effectively. they are indispensable.
The GR Corolla is different from other Corollas. Its wide body panels give it a bulging look and cover 18-inch wheels wrapped in 235/40 Michelin Pilot Sport 4 rubber (245/40 Cup 2 available). A gapped intake feeds the intercooler and cools the brakes. Like the Honda Civic Type R, the GR Corolla is equipped with a triple chip muffler.
2023 Toyota GR Corolla
Starting at $36,995, the GR Corolla looks like a swag, but it’s far from perfect. The 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster’s interface may have been made in MS Paint, the 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system’s interface is dated, and the screen resolution is on par with everything else on the market. It gives a more complete model cycle feel. The interior is full of hard, cheap plastic straight out of the Corolla economy car parts bin, and there’s no center armrest in the front. Fits right next to a mature Honda Civic Type R.
With the analogue experience and sheer force of the Toyota GR Corolla, can it beat out two other hot hatches, outrageous SUVs, luxury EVs and sports sedans? Check out the champions from our sister sites The Car Connection and Green Car Reports.