Toyota GR Corolla: 300bhp AWD forbidden fruitcake

Published: 01 April 2022

► Corolla gets some of that GR Yaris good time juice
► Tuned-up three-pot turbo and AWD included
► Not planned for Europe, but we can hope

Is the Toyota GR Corolla an April Fool’s joke? After all, Toyota Rickrolled the entire car industry during its large-scale electric vehicle strategy announcement not so long ago when it placed a QR code prominently on one of the models that linked to the video of Never Gonna Give You Up on YouTube. Either way, fair play: the GR Corolla is big news.

Taking the basic premise of the GR Yaris but turning up the boost and shoving it into a larger car sounds like a recipe for massive success to us – especially as said automobile is based on the remarkably agile TNGA platform. Trouble is, it’s also apparently not coming to trouble other hot hatches in Europe.

Let’s start the petition immediately.

So this is Corolla does GR Yaris, right?

Although it doesn’t get a bespoke silhouette, as there was no pressing need to try and homologate it for anything, the bodyshell is enhanced with extra welding and increased amounts of structural adhesive. The GR also gets an impressively aggressive makeover, turning the already sharp-looking Corolla hatchback into more of an apex predator.

Toyota GR Corolla, Circuit Edition, grey, dead-on front view

Yes, that is a pun. For underneath all those vents and pointy bits is a variation on the same 1.6-litre direct-port injection turbo-triple that powers the GR Yaris (the G16E-GTS, as of course you already know) and the GR-Four all-wheel-drive system.

It’s also been developed and tested by Akido Toyoda and the factory driver line-up for Gazoo Racing, and is put together at the Motomachi plant alongside other GR models.

Run the numbers…

Power in the GR Corolla is up to 300bhp – an increase of nearly 20% – while torque swells a little more modestly to 273lb ft (from 265).

Toyota hasn’t made any claims about the 0-62mph time (typical for a US market model), but with the extra power balancing out the extra weight, it’s got to be at least on par with the 5.5sec it takes the GR Yaris. Similarly, there’s no official top speed but who’d bet against this being a 150mph hatchback?

Toyota GR Corolla, Circuit Edition, grey, rear view

Echoing the three-cylinder layout, there’s a valved triple-exit exhaust punctuating the rear diffuser.

Will it be a GR-Fource to be reckoned with?

Very much so – as beyond the stats lies the all-wheel drive system, which gives drivers a choice of front:rear torque split to suit a range of intentions: from the standard 60:40 to 50:50 and even 30:70. Woohoo.

Toyota GR Corolla drifting, front view

Open diffs are standard, with front and rear LSDs available as part of an optional Performance Package. The transmission is a six-speed manual.

Meanwhile, the launch-year-only Circuit Edition comes with a forged carbonfibre roof, vented hood bulge and extra-sporty rear spoiler. The regular Core model is hardly demure, however.

How much is the GR Corolla?

Toyota hasn’t said how much the GR Corolla will cost yet, but seems to be remarkably good at bringing these things in at amazing value, so American buyers are likely to be in for a treat. They don’t get the GR Yaris, so for their sake let’s hope big brother is just as neat.

Toyota UK is adamant it’s not coming to Europe. Which is a shame, for a lot of reasons – and not least because it would be another chance to put the boot into Nissan, which, as we’ve recently been remarking, seems to have given up on fun cars for this region entirely.

By CJ Hubbard

Head of the Bauer Automotive Hub, road tester, organiser, extremely variable average wheel count

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