It’s been a few months since we got the exciting news that the Toyota Corolla was to receive the GR hot-hatch treatment, with the spicy GR Corolla due to go on sale in the USA in November 2022. Toyota has since announced that the GR Corolla will be available in three trim levels, with prices ranging from $35,900 to $49,900 (approx. £31,200 to £43,400) plus a dealer handling and processing fee of $1,095 (around £950). By US standards, that’s not exactly cheap – you could get a pretty potent V8 Ford Mustang or Chevrolet Camaro for the same money, or if you’re set on a hot hatch, a Golf R starting from around $45,000.
On the other side of the pond we’re very jealous, though – for now we’ll have to stick with the pocket-rocket Toyota GR Yaris which starts from £32,110 (around $36,900) – factor in the dealer and processing fees and it’s about the same.
That said, were the GR Corolla ever to arrive in UK showrooms, we can guarantee it would cost much more. At least we’ll have the GR Corolla-rivalling Honda Civic Type R to look forward to in both markets, with its estimated $40,000 price tag (upwards of £35,000 expected for the UK) – the Corolla will have to have its work cut out to sway potential FL5 buyers.
Aside from the GR Corolla’s entry-level Core trim available this year, a limited Circuit Edition will be available from spring 2023 for $42,900 (£37,350). The top-of-the-line Morizo Edition models will cost almost $50,000 (around £43,500) and will be limited to around 200 examples.
The GR Corolla uses the same turbocharged 1.6-litre three-cylinder engine from the Toyota GR Yaris. It’s been a while since Corolla enthusiasts had any exciting news, because for the last two decades it’s been an economy-focussed family car.
The 1.6-litre three-pot is capable of 295bhp and 273 lb ft of torque (this is increased to 295lb ft in the Morizo Edition cars), and like the GR Yaris, power will be sent through all four wheels through Toyota’s GR-Four system. This can provide a 30/70 front to rear torque split in Sport mode, while normal is 70/30 and Circuit provides an even 50/50 split.
We’ve seen the extreme potential the highly-tuned three-cylinder is capable of, courtesy of the 500bhp modified GR Yaris we covered recently, so we have no doubt that the GR Corolla’s 295bhp should be enough to propel the larger, heavier Corolla around at blisteringly quick speeds, while doing its best impression of a tarmac rally car.
There’s even better news for driving enthusiasts – the GR Corolla will be sold exclusively in manual guise, highlighting its focus on driver engagement.
The GR Corolla will also come with a Civic Type R-rivalling three-pipe exhaust with stainless-steel tips, which serves as a functional upgrade to its performance as well as looking pretty cool. The suspension has had an overhaul, with coil springs, shock absorbers and anti-roll bars tuned for the occasional track use. Stopping power comes from four-piston 355mm slotted disc brakes at the front, and two-piston 300mm rotors at the rear.
To match its massive performance hike, all models come with a more aggressive look compared to the standard Corolla, with a rear lip spoiler and menacing flared wheel arches. The interior also gets GR-branded sports seats to hug its driver in high-G turns. The Circuit edition will come with an additional limited slip differential (an option on Core models), a forged carbon fibre roof, GR branded and red-painted brake callipers, a vented front bonnet, bigger rear spoiler, suede-trimmed sports seats and a gear knob signed by the head of Toyota, marking the model’s exclusivity.
If you’re from the UK, you’ll be less pleased to learn Toyota has said the GR Corolla won’t be coming to our shores, but will instead be sold in North America. The company’s ethos of the ‘power-of-three’ dictates that only three GR models should be sold in one market at the same time. In the UK we already have the GR Yaris, GR Supra and GR 86 – the absence of the GR Yaris in North America means the GR Corolla can fill this gap in the lineup.
That’s a shame, because the last time we saw Toyota inject this much excitement into their best-selling Corolla nameplate over in the UK was back in the mid-2000s with the Toyota Corolla T-Sport – a 189bhp hot-hatch built to rival the Honda Civic Type R of the time. Then there was the rare Toyota Corolla T-Sport Compressor, which saw Toyota bolt on a supercharger to the Corolla’s 1.8-litre 2ZZ-GE engine to produce 215bhp. Let’s pray Toyota changes its mind and brings the spicy ‘Rolla to the UK…