When it comes to cars like Corolla and Civic, everyone gets excited to know something new about them and today it is about most powerful Corolla ever, Corolla GR.  Corolla is Toyota’s bread and butter with sales in over 150 countries that contribute a total of 20% of sales of the entire company. According to Toyota, there are 16 Corolla assembly plants worldwide, and over 50 Million units have been sold to date, since the first generation.

Globally Corolla, like Civic, is always known for a fuel efficient, reliable economical entry levels sedan. Furthermore, it is cheaper to maintain and great value for money sedans.  The current 12th generation of Toyota Corolla went into production back in 2018 and is available in 5 door hatchback, conventional sedan as well as wagon/ estate car depending upon market.

As a reminder the current 12th generation  is based on Toyota’s new global platform known as TNGA, “Toyota New Global Architecture,” GA-C to be specific for compact vehicles. While Civic has offered  over various generations in performance versions for enthusiasts i.e., Type R’s or Civic Si’s , Corolla didn’t touch that tap till now as far as road legal model although Corolla name is known to World Rally Racing/ WRC.


If you are a Toyota fan then you for sure have heard of the TRD/ Toyota Racing Development. TRD is actually an evolution of Toyota’s motorsports division  which was founded as Toyota Sports Corner (TOSCO) in 1960’s.  TRD package has been offered for off-roading for pickup trucks and SUV’s.

Meanwhile TRD name also appeared on some sedans like Corolla, Camry and Avalon and basically was more of aesthetic updates to appear sportier and minor suspension upgrades.  Now recently Toyota has introduced a new division known as Toyota GR which stands for Toyota Gazoo Racing. GR is responsible for high end performance vehicle from factory based on the regular models. We can say GR is same as M is to BMW and AMG to Mercedes.

Current generation Supra, Yaris hatchback as well the the new Land Cruiser are available with GR badging  and now another model will join the GR club and this time it is Corolla.  Toyota have been teasing the GR Corolla for last few months and at last it is launched today in United States. The hardcore GR Corolla is basically based on Corolla hatchback and we can say its really a very hot hatch and in fact the most powerful Corolla ever. You can watch the detail official reveal on the below embedded video.

As mentioned earlier, the GR is based on the regular Corolla hatch but the exterior has been thoroughly updated and it doesn’t look like your typical hatchback. Wider fender arches, side skirts , front and rear updated sportier bumpers and a rear roof mounted spoiler.

Things gets more dramatic on the rear as the GR Corolla gets a triple exhaust system, two circular on  the sides while one long oval shaped in the middle. There will be GR Badging on front , rear and on the front fenders.  Like regular Corolla hatch, there are LED headlights and taillights.  GR Corolla will be offered in two flavors; a standard “Core” model as well as a “Circuit Edition “.   The Circuit edition will be a limited production model and will have some exclusive features like forged carbon fiber roof, vented bulge hood with and a sporty rear spoiler.  GR Corolla comes standard with  235/40R18 Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires .

Heart and Soul

Like exterior, things under the hood are really ferocious. The  GR Corolla is powered by turbocharged G16E-GTS engine which is DOHC 12-valve 1.6L 3 cylinder . This famous engine is also used by GR Yaris and although it makes 268hp and 360Nm of torque in Yaris, it is pumped up to 300ho and 370Nm of torque in GR.

According to Toyota the compact and lightweight engine utilizes the motorsport technologies for maximum performance including multi oil jet piston cooling and larger diameter exhaust valves. Toyota D-4S direct and port fuel injection system is used for functioning at high pressure for maximum fuel dispersion , efficiency and performance.

As we saw  three outlet exhaust under the rear bumper,  the purpose  is to reduce the exhaust pressure which is essential for backpressure performance. Obviously you can expect a sweet exhaust note. As per Toyota, the turbocharger is integrated in the exhaust and wastegate is controlled to improve the catalytic warm up efficiency .

If you don’t know how to drive manual, you are having a bad luck. The GR corolla is available only with 6 speed intelligent manual transmission (iMT) with rev matching capabilities.

Now the most interesting part is the sophisticated permanent  AWD/ All Wheel Drive  for the GR Corolla, a system which is actually developed for rally cars. This is the same  as available for the GR Yaris. The AWD system, which Toyota brands as ” GR-FOUR”,  comes with three driver selectable modes . Power is channeled between front & rear in the ratio of 60:40 in Normal, 30:70 in Sport while 50:50 in the Track mode.

The GR Corolla is based on the same GA-C platform as the regular hatch but for that much power and torque, the chassis has been heavily upgraded and the wider track and lower center of gravity a well balanced driving dynamics like a typical sports car.  Aluminum has been used for bonnet, front door panels while light high strength steel is used at critical areas.  The chassis comes with enhanced rigidity, thanks to significantly more weld points and increased structural adhesive use.

Suspension and Brakes

The suspension is also upgraded extensively with MacPherson front with light weight components and used track focused coil springs, shock absorbers and stabilizer bars. Double wishbone type multilink system is on the rear.  GR Yaris also comes with Limited-Slip differentials both on front and rear for improved cornering and torque distribution for improved grip and handling.  As of brakes, GR Yaris will be equipped with 14-inch slotted rotors with 4 pistons on front while 11.7-inch ventilated rotors with double pistons on the rear .

Keep in mind the direct rival is Civic Type R with current Civic X generation is FWD with around 316hp/400Nm[RHD] 306hp/400Nm[LHD] . The next generation Type R is around the corner and will be released soon and expected to have around same power and torque delivery as the model it replaces. Yet again it will be FWD only so, GR Corolla has some AWD advantage over CTR. Let’s see and wait, what Honda have up the sleeves.

Other competitors includes Golf R which is 315hp and 421Nm of torque and it has 4Motion/AWD system as well. On slightly lower end of spectrum, Hyundai Veloster N with 275hp/253Nm of torque and its FWD only. In European market Hyundai i30N is an option with 276hp/392Nm but it is DCT only.


As of Interior, the layout is similar to the regular Corolla but obviously with sporty touches.  There is a 12.3-inch fully digital customizable digital display capable of 4WD mode, turbo pressure, gear position indicator and tachometer.  Furthermore, you will see a 8-inch infotainment system while a premium JBL audio system is also offered .

Furthermore, the company has offered 4G connectivity for internet,  navigation, apple car play and android auto features with steering wheel controls. Meanwhile, automatic climate control, suede and leather combination seats [ heated front ] with GR badging comes standard.

As of safety , GR corolla comes standard with Toyota safety sense driver assistance system which includes  Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, and Lane Tracing Assist, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Automatic High Beams, Road Sign Assist, and a Rear Seat Reminder.

Toyota didn’t release the pricing but it is expected to be around $35 to $40,000 for North American market and for the Circuit Edition, it might be slightly higher . Moreover, Toyota announced that GR Corolla will be offered in other markets as well beside US & Canada. GR Corolla will be exclusively manufactured at purpose built factory at Motomachi, Japan along side GR Yaris.

This is the same birth place for other iconic vehicles like Lexus LFA as well as the famous Supra A80. According to Toyota each GR model is built with high tech precision and attention and built by dedicated Toyota GR/ Gozzo Racing brand experts  and it takes longer than conventional mass produced cars.

So, what are your thoughts on the  GR Corolla ?

This content was originally published here.

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