“Alright, so this is the hot hatch from Toyota all of the enthusiasts in American have been waiting for…the GR Corolla. I’m about to head out to the track here outside of Salt Lake City, Utah.”

Whoa, whoa, easy there eager beaver, let’s at least introduce the car before we get into what it can do on the track.

As I said, this is the 2023 Toyota GR Corolla. Toyota’s third model in the states to wear the Gazoo Racing badge.

The heat from this hot hatch comes from a 1.6-liter 3-cylinder turbo swiped from the GR Yaris, which is forbidden fruit here Americans. Lucky for us Toyota squeezed a little more juice out if it for the GR Corolla as it now rates 300 horsepower and up to 295 lb.-ft of torque…we’ll get to that in a bit. But for now, let’s get back on track.

“The GR Corolla does have an all-wheel drive system. Right now, there are three settings. There’s the default, which is a 60/40 front-to-rear bias. Right now I’m in 50/50 split torque and you can also go 30% front, 70% to the rear. I prefer to keep it with the torque split 70% to the rear and 30% to the front as opposed to 50% front and back. I just, I like the feel better. I feel like I have more control. You go to a tighter corner, you can feel the front end…the limited slip differential – that’s front and rear – you get that standard on the 1-year-old Circuit Edition but here on this Core model, it’s a performance option. And I would highly recommend it.”

The front and rear limited slip differentials are part of a $1,180 performance package which also includes 4 piston front brakes with red painted, GR logo’d calipers and 14-inch ventilated and slotted rotors. Given the Core model’s base price of just under $37,000 dollars, adding the performance pack still keeps it well below $40-grand.

This 1-year-only Circuit Edition on the other hand starts at $43,995 and adds a forged carbon fiber roof, functional air ducts on the hood as well as suede inserted sport seats in the cabin .

Regardless of trim, transmission is a 6-speed manual only.

“Standard of course though with this manual transmission. intelligent manual transmission as Toyota calls it…iMT, is an active rev matching feature. But if you want it, you have to turn it on. I have it on right now…down into third, quick clip of the throttle for me…that was all the car. Perfect downshift.”

Throws are short and have a  solid feel. The slightly heavier than average clutch fell right into my sweet spot, although the engagement point was a little high for my liking.

While pushing the car on the track I appreciate the digital gauge cluster’s easy-to-read at a quick glance nature, but I’m still not sold on the horizontal tachometer which appears when the drive mode is switched to track.

And the sound? Well I’ll let you be the judge.

Outside the car at idle, there’s a deep rumble controlled by a centralized third exhaust pipe which remains open up until 20 mph when it closes only open up again at 4,500 RPM, which Toyota says reduces back pressure. At lower speeds there’s quite a bit of turbo noise, especially when letting off the throttle.

Speaking of that single scroll turbo, max boost is set at 25.2 PSI in the Core and Circuit models while the MORIZO Edition ups it to 26.3 PSI. That’s supposedly enough to hit 60 in less than 5-seconds.

But that’s not the whole story of the MORIZO Edition.

“Right away in this MORIZO Edition, it just feels more responsive. The throttle tip in and a lot more front end grip, wow.”

Back to the torque rating I mentioned earlier, the MORIZO Edition spins up 295 lb.-ft of torque compared to the Core and Circuit’s 273 lb.-ft. It peaks a tad later on the rev band, but there’s a noticeable difference as it pulls through the mid range.

As for the grip. It’s aided not just by stickier Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2s, but by stiffer spring rates on the front MacPherson suspension.

“Yeah, I’m carrying a lot more speed in the corners just in the MORIZO Edition and a little bit of hard breaking into third. Yeah, the grip’s there!”

“So the question I had coming into this drive, ‘is the GR Corolla a legit hot hatch that rivals Golf R, Civic Type R?’ And pretty quickly my question was answered. It is a legit hot hatch.”

So the real question becomes: Is the $50,000 MORIZO Edition worth the extra money over the entry-level model? Well, If you’re into exclusivity but not rear seats? The answer is Yes, because Toyota is only selling 200 of them in the U.S. and each one jettisons the back seat in the interest of weight savings. But, if you’re into the best bang for the buck and have more than one friend, the GR Corolla Core model is one healthy heap of hot hatch fun. And it will hit dealers this fall with the MORIZO and Circuit Editions to follow in 2023.

In the meantime keep it locked on MotorWeek for more on the GR Corolla and others soon!


  • Engine: 1.6-liter 3-cylinder turbo
  • Horsepower: 300
  • Torque: up to 295 lb ft
  • Starting Price: $36,995