We know the three cylinders don't seem like much to work with. So press the Start button on the console of the Corolla GR, however, it's this new engine under the hood that comes to life with a purpose.
The roar comes from the individual exhaust pipes, and from the driver's seat there are very clear indications that this is unlike any other Corolla that has come before.
This hot hatch isn't just another half-hearted attempt at front-wheel drive. It's a complete performance car with incredible engineering, sensational capability and a thrilling soundtrack.
The Corolla GR family
Toyota will sell three types of Corolla GR starting at US$ 35,900. All three therefore share the same 1.6-liter three-cylinder turbo engine that develops 300 hp (223 kW).
In addition, they also share a new AWD system that Toyota calls the GR-Four.
Power is sent to all four wheels only via a six-speed manual transmission.
The two lower trim levels, Core and Circuit, come with 273 lb-ft (370 Nm) of torque.
The high-spec Morizo Edition finish gets a boost to 295 lb-ft (400 Nm).
Starting with Core, buyers receive:
- Sports seats with fabric finish;
- 8-inch infotainment system;
- Android Auto;
- Apple CarPlay;
- Automatic climate control;
- aluminum pedals;
- Two USB C charging ports;
- Toyota's Safety Sense 3.0 Package and more.
Buyers can add three different packages to the Core. The most expensive is the Performance package (US $ 1,180), which adds Torsen limited-slip differentials to the Corolla GR Core's front and rear axles.
In addition to slotted front rotors, 4-piston calipers painted red at the front and 2-piston calipers painted red. Piston calipers at the back.
A technology pack (US $ 770) adds a wireless smartphone charger, a JBL premium audio system and dynamic navigation to the Core.
Finally, a cold weather package (US $ 500) adds heated front seats, heated mirrors and a heated steering wheel.
The GR Corolla Circuit Edition (US $ 42,900 and available for 2023 only) includes all of these packages, but also adds red trim accents, a Morizo-signed shift knob, sport seats in Brin-Naub suede and faux leather, and a forged carbon fiber.
Both the Core and Circuit come with Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires and 18-inch alloy wheels.
The top finish, limited to just 200 total units, is the Morizo Edition (US $ 49,900).
In fact, it misses the rear seats, the rear window regulators, the rear door speakers and the rear wiper.
However, it gets a set of Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, 18-inch forged alloy wheels and the added torque mentioned above.
In all, the Morizo weighs about 100 lbs (45 kg) less (3,186 lbs / 1,445 kg total) than the Circuit Edition (3,285 lbs / 1,490 kg total) and has much more grip.
A family but special cabin
Perhaps the biggest complaint some people will have with the new Corolla GR is that the cabin isn't all that different from the regular Corolla.
So, we are here to tell you that this is true. It is very similar in many ways.
For example, the dashboard is basically identical, as are the 8-inch infotainment screen and the door cards too.
The rear seats are also indistinguishable from a regular Corolla. Things start to change after that, as the Corolla GR gets a unique steering wheel.
It also has a fully digital gauge cluster and of course the center console area is different too.
In addition to the manual shift knob, there is a manual handbrake lever and a mode selector to change the distribution of torque across the axles.
Of course, on the Morizo Edition there are no rear seats, and instead of buttons on the windows, a small forged carbon GR badge takes up that space.
Trunk space on all grades of the GR Corolla GR is cavernous, to say the least.
Behind the second row, the Core and Circuit Edition cars have 17.8 cubic feet of cargo space.
Morizo Edition does not have an official number at the time of this writing, but just look at it.
It's big enough for a full set of tires and extra tools with room to spare.
Overall it's a clean cabin with little noise and a lot of focus on the driving experience itself.
Every GR Corolla comes with an 8-inch infotainment system equipped with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
It works well and we like the combination of physical controls with touch controls that let you interact in any way you like.
The physical buttons and switches on the steering wheel are another good choice and are good to use in practice.
Voice commands allow for cabin temperature adjustment, audio controls, navigation routing and more.
A 12.3-inch screen looks at the driver from the gauge cluster and provides data such as speed, RPM, boost pressure, gear position and even what driving mode the car is in.
Fuel economy on Toyota GR Corolla
While this car may be primarily focused on driving pleasure, practicality is just as important for any hatchback.
In the case of the GR Corolla, Toyota estimates it will reach 21 mpg in the city, 28 on the highway and 24 in total. This is by far the worst of the Corolla family, as the closest of the bunch still gets a combined 31 mpg.
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Not bad compared to its biggest rival, the Civic Type R, which was rated at 22 mpg city, 28 mpg Highway and 25 combined in 2021.
We'll have to wait and see how the new Civic Type R fares. When arrives. The Corolla GR outperforms the VW Golf R, as the latter only gets 23 mpg combined.