Toyota GR Corolla "Circuit Edition." 

Toyota has unveiled the GR Corolla: a race-ready, hot-hatch variant of their popular commuter car.

The Gazoo Racing (GR) badge has made its way onto the Corolla for the first time, with the Supra- and 86-familiar emblem bringing a host of performance upgrades to Toyota’s otherwise-humble rush hour hero. The GR Corolla is said to be born from rally racing roots and tested to meet the standards of Akio Toyoda and professional GAZOO drivers.

The heart of the GR Corolla is its engine: the G16-E, a 1.6-liter three-cylinder turbocharged power plant, yanked from the GR Yaris and boosted to 300 horsepower and 272 lb-ft of torque. Designed for snappy acceleration when exiting a corner, peak torque output is embedded in the tachometer’s 3000-5500 rpm range, with peak horses pulling along at 6500 rpm. Those horses are delivered to the rest of the drivetrain by the standard-- yes, standard--  manual transmission, equipped with rev-matching. The shift lever has been short-stroked for quick throws, and just as satisfying as the pops of machine-gun downshifting through a corner are the ratcheting clicks of a mechanical parking brake, opted in this case over the increasingly popular electronic ones.

Speaking of said drivetrain, the GR Corolla utilizes Toyota’s rally-developed GR-Four all-wheel drive system. This system allows operators to choose between power distribution settings; for example, drivers may opt for a 50-50 split of distribution between the front and rear wheels, or they may opt to go 60-40 for everyday conditions or 30-70 for a sportier feeling. This offers greater adjustability for the conditions at hand, be it summer track days or wintry drives home, and distribution can be shifted by the twisting of a dial.

All throttle inputs will resonate through a special three-tip exhaust system. This setup allows for greater exhaust efficiency which, in turn, allows the G16-E to produce more power. That being said, the three muffler system is said to reduce exhaust pressure and outside noise-- to what extent is unclear.

The GR Corolla’s platform is based on Toyota’s GA-C, same as the everyday Corolla; however, GR models will benefit from a specially constructed, highly rigid body. This is achieved through more weld points in the frame, particularly at joints, as well as structural adhesive. Front suspension is a MacPherson-type strut, upheld by circuit-tuned coils, shock absorbers and stabilizer bars; the rear suspension is double-wishbone multilink. All four corners will make contact through Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires-- 235/40R18 all the way around. They wrap special 18-inch wheels-- 15 spokes finished in gloss black. Those wheels sheath 14x1.1-inch ventilated and slotted rotors, gripped by 4-piston calipers in front; the rear is stopped by 11.7x0.7-inch rotors with 2-piston calipers.

Proportions are similar to those of the standard Toyota Corolla Hatchback, but mostly increased: widened from 70.5 inches to 72.9 and lengthened from 172 inches to 173.5 inches. It’s supported by a 103.9 inch wheelbase-- a carryover from the standard Corolla-- though it's unknown if the standard 5.1 inches of ground clearance will change. Interestingly, the GR Corolla is nearly 200 pounds heavier than its mass produced sibling; flaunting a curb weight of 3249 pounds. That being said, Toyota made it clear the GR Corolla would benefit from a focus on weight savings-- aluminum hood and front door panels, for instance.

The bodywork consists of additional race and rally features, such as functional air vents, rear lip spoiler, wide fender flares, and GR-Four stamped side rockers. For peak aerodynamic performance, Toyota saw fit to design the GR Corolla with a nose ascending to a tapering roof line, directing wind onto the rear spoiler for extra downforce; a widened stance spearheaded by a GR-badged matrix grille, bookended by auto on/off LED headlights.

The interior retains the Corolla’s five-seater capacity-- fabric sport seats adorned with the GR logo and red accents. At the center of the action is a 12.3-inch touchscreen Multi-Information Display system, which was designed using the feedback of professional drivers. The system can show the drivetrain settings, turbo pressure, gear position and tachometer. Also standard on all models is Toyota Safety Sense 3.0 suite.

Yes, all models-- really two. The GR Corolla will be offered in the “Core Grade,” which includes all the aforementioned components, finished in either white, black or Supersonic Red paint. But what’s a special edition car without a special edition-edition? That’s where the “Circuit Edition” enters the fray.

Circuit Edition models will be limited to the 2023 model year, with a choice of three lacquers: white, Supersonic Red and Heavy Metal. It carries over the same widened fenders and GR-Four stamped rockers from the Core model, but adds a forged carbon fiber roof, a vented hood (with a noticeable cowl), and a special rear spoiler. Inside, Brin Naub suede-trimmed sport seats hold occupants tight., and the driver’s stick will be capped by a Moizo signed shift knob. 

Circuit Editions also gain front and rear Torsen Limited Slip Differentials-- an option available on Core models via Performance Package. Other packages include a Technology Package with premium audio and wireless device charging, as well as a Cold Weather Package with heated front seats and heated steering wheel.

The GR Corolla will be built at Toyota’s GR Factory in Motomachi, Japan, home of other performance vehicles like the Lexus LFA and A80 Supra. Now, the plant serves as the base for the first GR production line for the GR Corolla and GR Yaris. While the assembly process has been streamlined, GR Corolla production times will be longer than its more common brethren, as each model requires greater detail to produce, such as body alignment and weld checks.

This may be the first time the GR badge has made its way to the Corolla namesake, but it’s not the first time Toyota has infused performance into the commuter’s genetic code. Currently served on the market is the Corolla SE Apex Edition, which features some sporty accents and a lowered-sport suspension (nowhere near as enhanced as the GR Corolla, mind you). The Apex signifier harkens back to one of Toyota’s most legendary vehicles: the AE86 Corolla Levin and Sprinter Trueno GT-Apex, offered as coupes and liftbacks. The 86, well, went on to inspire the modern day 86 and, subsequently, GR86. 

There’s so much to say about the upcoming GR Corolla and we’ll have all the latest here on MotorWeek!