With many automakers reducing their involvement in hatchback models to cater to a growing hunger for crossover and utility vehicle sales, it’s still good to see that a few are still tinkering with the iconic hot hatch. Toyota is one such company and has unveiled the all-new 2023 GR Corolla which aims to bring international market performance to American buyers.
GR Corolla Embraces Track Ready Motif
When the GR Corolla makes its way to dealerships later this year, it will be offered in two grades (Core and the launch Exclusive Circuit Edition.) Core models represent the budget focused option (Toyota will be releasing pricing at a later date) and share a strong resemblance with mainstream Corolla models. However, a bigger front grille is installed and is supposed to be based on the unit seen in the GR Yaris while the wider body features bigger wheel arches and functional side vents to go along with the aluminum hood. “GR FOUR” adorned side skirts connect the front and rear while bigger flares toughen up the hatchback’s personality. The rear features a large rear spoiler and a novel triple exit exhaust system that we look forward to hearing in person soon.
The launch year exclusive Circuit Edition boldly goes the extra mile with gloss black accents, forged carbon fiber roof panel, an aluminum vented hood, and other minor tweaks. The GR Yaris was an inspiration for this model, but two extra doors and more safety equipment make this model slightly heavier than the Yaris with GR Corollas weighing in at 3,249 lbs. That’s still lighter than a Volkswagen Golf R a model that’s a smidge higher in the hot hatch performance Richter scale.
A Purposeful Interior
Slip inside the GR Corolla and you’ll discover that the cabin has also gotten in on the act thanks to its fair share of upgrades. Circuit Edition models get a black and red interior, but Core models go for a black and grey color combination with aluminum pedals, sport seats, a 12.3 inch digital instrument cluster, an 8.0 inch touchscreen infotainment system, a six speaker audio system, and more.
Toyota is also promising an impressive degree of safety equipment including automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, automatic headlights, rear cross traffic alert, and blinds side monitoring. A set of optional packages also promise to add more equipment to a GR Corolla with our personal highlight being the Technology package that adds a JBL eight speaker premium audio system, navigation, and a wireless charging pad for a phone or other mobile device.
Three Cylinder Fury Adds Depth To GR Corolla
The world first assumed that the GR Corolla would be powered by a turbocharged four cylinder, but surprise, it’s actually a turbocharged THREE cylinder with the feisty three banger producing 300 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. This insane amount of power is routed through the GR FOUR all-wheel drive system and Toyota engineers strengthened the chassis and added new structural adhesives to help it accept the extra power. Toyota did not reveal official performance figures just yet, but look for them to be right in the firing line of some of its souped up rivals.
A six-speed manual is the lone transmission here with Toyota boldly declaring that it will not be offering an automatic in the model. That’s the same line of thinking that also narrates Honda’s performance Civic lineup and when we asked some of our friends on the social media side of the site whether that would stop them from buying a manual equipped performance model recently, we had very strong feedback and a surprising amount of willingness from our fans so it’s clear that Toyota studied the market well.
Handling for the GR Corolla is done with front mounted MacPherson struts and a multi-link suspension in the rear with Toyota claiming that the tweaked setup can deliver the goods both on the track and in daily driving on the street. Braking is also shaping up to be a potent talking point with the front rotors being paired with six piston front calipers while the rear discs have a two caliper arraignment.
When Can I Buy One?
Toyota didn’t release pricing as of yet, but did confirm that the 2023 GR Corolla will begin making its way to dealerships later this year. We’ll certainly be keeping an eye on the GR Corolla over the next few months and eagerly await the final details needed to see just where it ends up in the hot hatch wars.
Carl Malek has been an automotive journalist for over 10 years. First starting out as a freelance photographer before making the transition to writing during college, his work has appeared on numerous automotive forums as well as websites such as Autoshopper.com.
Carl is also a big fan of British vehicles with the bulk of his devotion going to the Morgan Motor Company as well as offerings from Lotus, MG, and Caterham. When he is not writing about automobiles, Carl enjoys spending time with his family and friends in the Metro Detroit area, as well as spending time with his adorable pets.