Toyota has a reputation for being a bit boring, but the company is trying to change that by embracing a sportier and more exciting lineup.
We’ve already seen the fruits of their labor as the GR86 is a wonderful driver’s car, while the GR Supra can tear things up on the track.
However, they’re just getting started as the 2023 GR Corolla aims to combine thrills with five doors. After one lap at the Eagles Canyon Raceway, it appears the company has succeeded.
We’ll have to wait a little longer to get behind the wheel ourselves, but the car was undeniably impressive in the hands of a professional racing driver. While they can make virtually anything look good, the GR Corolla seemed unflappable during our brief ride along.
Thanks to all-wheel drive and a turbocharged 1.6-liter three-cylinder engine developing 300 hp (224 kW / 304 PS) and 273 lb-ft (370 Nm) of torque, the hatch has plenty of power and the traction to make the most out of it. On the topic of all-wheel drive, the GR-Four system is adjustable and offers front/rear power splits of 60:40, 50:50, and 30:70. This means the car can be front biased, neutral, or rear biased at the twist of a knob.
While that’s a trick party feature, the all-wheel drive system has other benefits as well as it helped the hatch to stay remarkably composed even after hopping the curb and heading for the grass. Furthermore, the GR-Four system provides plenty of grip and it’s aided by Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires that are wrapped in 18-inch gloss-black wheels.
The latter are backed up by a beefy braking system that features four-piston calipers and 14-inch (356 mm) discs up front as well as 11.7-inch discs (297 mm) and two-piston calipers out back. These are a massive upgrade over the standard model’s discs that measure 11.5 inches (292 mm) front and 10.5 inches (267 mm) rear. Thus, the GR Corolla has impressive stopping power as well as enough endurance to handle repeated laps. However, with dozens of journalists eager for a ride, Toyota had to break out the leaf blowers to cool things off between runs.
We’ll have a lot more to say about the GR Corolla in the future, but the car seems to have a firm but comfortable ride. It’s also worth noting that after a day of driving Supras and Lexus LCs, I was relieved to find the GR Corolla offers plenty of headroom even when wearing a helmet. The sport seats also provide supportive bolstering, while the three-cylinder engine and triple exhaust have a sporting note that sounds better than expected.