So, you want Toyota’s new hot hatch, the 2023 GR Corolla
Well, welcome to the club. It looks like another desirable Toyota in short supply. According to colleagues management The editor, Clayton Sims, currently has no fewer than 2,500 applicants for 10 “Morijo” — the pseudonym of Toyota Motor Corp. president Akio Toyoda when he was secretly learning to race — versions of the GR coming to Canada. And that’s for a Corolla, let me remind you, the price is $59,900. Yes, for Corolla.
Thankfully, we’ll have entry-level GR-Corollas for the masses. The Core model starts at a relatively reasonable $45,490 — Toyota says 75 percent of Canadian sales — and a $53,990 Circuit model I tested comes with a carbon fiber roof, vented hood and heated front seats.
What unites all GR Corollas is the same turbocharged 1,618-cc inline three-cylinder engine that powers the GR Yaris. Driving.ca Last summer was an exclusive experiment. In GR Corolla guise — turbo-boosted to an incredible 25.2 psi and blessed with larger inlet valves — the G16E-GTS Three makes 300 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. For those who follow such things, that means this GR makes 185 horsepower per liter and, if you don’t like to think metric, about three horses per cubic inch of displacement.
Coupled with the GR-Four all-wheel-drive system and a slick-shifting six-speed manual, the GR Corolla can accelerate to 100 kilometers per hour in the blink of an eye in less than five seconds. Quite literally the blink of an eye: Toyota officially rates it at 4.99 seconds which either speaks to the barely-applied precision to acceleration times or its desire to put “four” on its spec sheet regardless of the decimal point that follows.
More important than direct numbers, however, is how this energy is produced. Being a three – rather more common four – cylinder, it sounds completely different. Some would say, it sounds ‘flatter’ than a V-Tec’d Honda Civic Type R. Others will find it sounds like a big-inch V6. Both will be fine. I can assure you that, whichever description you choose, it’s no less enticing for it.
The inline three also makes power like a V6. The three big pistons seem to spin the turbocharger at lower rpms than the four smaller pistons, so the G16E-GTS has plenty of low-end grunt, with the GR getting a noticeable gain in acceleration (as well as a better response to the boost gauge as low as 2,000 rpm). Three hundred horsepower may not be the most in any sports car segment, but when it only has to motivate 1,475 kilograms (3,252 pounds) and, as I said, lots of instant grunt, it’s just not satisfying.
First Drive: 2023 Toyota GR Corolla
First drive: 2023 Honda Civic Type R
Apart from the motor, the GR’s best foot forward is not. That would be the GR-Four AWD system. Designed specifically for rally racing — the Yaris version of the GR is literally the gay special that allows Toyota to race in the WRC — it offers three different front-to-rear torque splits. The default setting is a safety-first 60:40 forward bias. There’s also a drifting-oriented 30:70 option that sends most of that 273 torque to the rear. And finally, a strict 50:50 split that takes over when you push the track setting. Unlike the GR Yaris — which I tested in Italy and has a heavier, more competition-oriented steering feel — I put the Corolla in 60:40 mode. Colder weather, slipperier tires and crazy fast steering led me to look for an out clause and I pushed the front tires before sliding back which seemed like the right choice in early December.
That said, the GR-Corolla really drives a treat. The firm’s rally-side suspension, a chassis stiff enough to get the most out of its Michelin Pilot Sports – 235/40ZR18s – and a directness of response to steering inputs that you only get when you really mean your car to take a beating on a racetrack. It’s a lively car with the slightest intention of being a daily driver like the regular Corolla, and although I can’t say for sure that it will outshine Honda’s latest Civic Type R as we haven’t tested either of those then. -at Calabogie Motorsports Park in Ontario – a mistake we plan to correct as soon as possible next year – I’d say it’s sportier than the latest Subaru WRX or Volkswagen GTI. The GR Corolla, whichever version you buy, is the ultimate compromise; The Corolla is a soupcon of practicality and a thoroughly engaging ride with the Toyota promise of reliability. It doesn’t get much better than this, although initially the price is a little startling.
You still like Honda
Well, the Civic Type R is all-new for 2023, with its 2.0L turbo four up to 315 horses and 310 pound-feet of torque, thanks to an increase to 25.2 psi, the same boost pressure as the GR. It’s hardly official, though Car and Driver That said, the ’23 Type R accelerates to 60 mph (96 km/h) in 4.9 seconds, indicating that it will take more than five seconds to hit 100 kph. I suspect that the GR’s minute advantage is a result of the fact that it has two more tires to distribute all the torque since the Type R is lighter — albeit only 25 kilograms — as well as more powerful.
The same goes for any comparison of limit handling. Logic would dictate that the Corolla and its sophisticated GR-Four AWD system would be superior to Honda’s relatively pedestrian front-wheel-drive layout. But the last-gen Type R defied all of its AWD competitors in our last racetrack comparison with its FWD layout. There is no reason to believe that the new model will be less capable. In fact, I suspect the difference between the two will be less about outright power and more about comportment, the new Honda being the same ruthless corner carver the Type R has always been while the GR — with its variable all-wheel-drive system — is the more playful of the two. But, until we get them on the racetrack together, we won’t know for sure.
You’ve always wanted a Subaru WRX
Subaru’s WRX has long been the go-to AWD hot-rod in this segment. And this latest version — all-new for 2022 — is the most stylish and practical all-round sports sedan to wear the badge in quite some time.
Unfortunately, it’s also one of the slowest, with its 278 horsepower only good for a six-second sprint to 100 kilometers per hour. That’s also because, in its Sport + iSight guise, it also weighs a hefty 1,601 kilograms. That’s a whopping 3,522 pounds. In fact, the Sport-Tech + EyeSight trim weighs about the same as Toyota’s V6-powered Camry TRD at 1,621 kilograms. It’s also worth noting that we shouldn’t expect a higher performance version of this WRX since Subaru says there won’t be a new STI, at least one powered by an internal combustion engine.
In other words, this latest WRX is a more intelligent and attractive version of the car that has long epitomized the mighty little rally car. If you’re looking for practicality in a small performance sedan, by all means choose the small Subi. But, if you’re after fun-to-drive, I think you’re better off with the GR Corolla.
You really want a GR Toyota
Well, if the Gorolla isn’t your cup of tea, Toyota Canada would definitely want you to consider the GR86 or the high-end GR Supra. But the GR86 simply lacks moxie and the GR Supra is rear-wheel drive only. Also, the former is a Subaru and the latter a BMW Why not choose a real-deal Toyota?
What would be great if Toyota Canada brought the GR Yaris to our shores. A weak 43 horsepower but, at 1,280 kilograms, about 200 kilos lighter, the smaller and less powerful Yaris is just as quick as the stouter Corolla. It’s blessed with the same all-wheel-drive system, which combined with the lighter weight makes the Yaris even more impressive than the GR’d Corolla. In fact, the only thing more fun to drive than the GR Yaris is Ford’s much-missed Fiesta ST.
Nevertheless, Toyota Canada probably made the right choice in bringing the GR to Canada. We Canadian auto enthusiasts talk a great game about appreciating good Bred performance uber alles, but the truth is that we like a modicum of comfort and practicality even in our sports cars. And that the Corolla version of the GR does better than the Yaris, which has no rear doors, no rear headroom, and no motorcycle-like luggage capacity. Still, the Continental Yaris is the sportier of the two cars.
Of course, the ultimate GR will be the European Yaris supplemented by our Corolla motor. Even Italians, it seems, can’t have everything.