Hot hatch enthusiasts, it’s time to celebrate.
The long-awaited hardcore 220kW Toyota GR Corolla hot hatch is confirmed for Australia, with first arrivals scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2022.
If it drives with an intensity to match its exaggerated, modified looks, then we’re in for something great…
As expected, it leans heavily on the smaller GR Yaris, using a version of its manic three-cylinder engine, six-speed manual gearbox, and variable all-wheel drive system.
Here are all the details we know, based on development targets for Japanese-market models but which are a close guide of what to expect for Australia.
The fitment of a valve-equipped triple-exhaust muffler, improving airflow, bumps the 1.6-litre turbocharged three-cylinder’s peak power by 10 per cent over the GR Yaris to 220kW, at 6500rpm.
Torque output matches its application in the GR Yaris, at 370Nm between 3000 and 5550rpm (a wider max torque band than the GR Yaris).
The intercooled G16E-GTS engine has a 1618cc displacement, 10.5:1 compression ratio, and pairs exclusively to a short-stroke six-speed manual gearbox – for now.
The GR-Four variable 4WD system has an electronic multi-plate clutch, with as much as 70 per cent of engine output able to be sent to the rear axle.
TMC engineers have separated the system’s 4WD driving modes (which control driving force distribution) from the Drive modes (which control accelerator response, steering and ESP), offering a theoretically wider array of setups than when they’re linked as per the Yaris.
As per the GR Yaris Rallye, there will be front and rear Torsen (torque-sensing) limited-slip differentials – optional in the US but potentially standard for Australian models.
On a side note, Toyota has been testing an eight-speed torque-converter automatic transmission in the GR Yaris, which could theoretically make it to the GR Corolla for buyers who don’t want to shift their own gears or use three pedals.
“I’m told that it’s okay to break it. I’ve already broken it once,” said Shigeru Hayakawa, vice chairman of Toyota Motor Corporation, who has been serving as the development driver for the new transmission and will race it in the 2022 season.
The GR Corolla’s foundation is the existing TNGA-C platform with the regular Corolla’s 2640mm wheelbase. However the listed front and rear tracks are up 60mm at the front and 90mm at the rear, while the flared arches take the body width up by 60mm to 1850mm.
Body rigidity has been increased thanks to braces between the rear wheel wells, in the under-floor tunnel, and under the floor in front of the fuel tank.
The GR Corolla’s “highly rigid frame” is said to have been made possible through production at the dedicated GR factory within Toyota’s Motomachi plant.
The suspension configuration is MacPherson struts up front and trailing multi-link at the rear, but Toyota says it has fitted pillow-ball bushings and fettled modified the springs, shock absorbers and wheel alignment.
Behind the 18-inch wheels – to be shod in 235/40 R18 Yokohama Advan Apex V601 rubber in Japan, but pictured in US form wearing Michelin Pilot Sport 4s – are uprated ventilated disc brakes with opposed four-pot callipers (front) and opposed two -pot callipers (rear).
Toyota says its full suite of Safety Sense driver-assist features will be included.
TMC says it has also switched in a manual parking brake “to allow better vehicle control even when pushing the car to its limits, such as when drifting”.
This thing looks wild, from the whole new front bumpers with larger intake, exaggerated arch flares, bonnet and fender breathing points, skirts, multi-spoke wheels, a roof spoiler, glossy-black add-ons, and GR badging.
More Civic Type R than Golf R, in the design stakes…
Cooling and aerodynamics also benefit from that front-bumper air intake, along with outlets for the front fender and bonnet bulge. The rear diffuser frames no fewer than three exhaust outlets, one being a centred, rounded rectangle.
Inside, the instrument cluster will incorporate a thin-film transistor meter said to be “inspired by race cars and reflecting insight from professional drivers”, designed to be easily visible during sporty driving.
The seats look to be buckets similar in design to the Corolla ZR, but with perforated leather trim and GR embossing or branded stitching. The GR Corolla hatch also retains a five-passenger layout.
GR Corolla prototypes included a race car powered by a hydrogen-fuelled internal combustion engine that competed in last year’s Super Taikyu endurance series in Japan.
Toyota Master Driver Morizo (AKA global president Akio Toyoda) took stints behind the wheel. Prototypes were also assessed by champion Japanese circuit and rally drivers as well as in-house evaluators, TMC claims.
In Australia, Corolla isn’t quite the snore-fest its reputation suggests, with a long motorsport record including class victories at the Bathurst 500 enduro in 1968 and 1969, and a further eight consecutive class victories at Bathurst from 1985-92.
The 1989 Bathurst victory was scored by Neal Bates – now team principal of the Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia rally team. Bates won the 2008 Australian Rally Championship in a Corolla with co-driver Coral Taylor.
Toyota stunned when it launched the GR Yaris, sensationally selling the first batch for $39,950 drive-away, equating to a saving in the vicinity of $14,000. The goal was to cut the price in lieu of spending money on marketing, thereby letting enthusiasts be its advocates.
It then sold a further 100 units at $44,950 drive-away, before reverting to the official list price of $49,500. It became a sellout success, with more than 2200 orders taken between September 2020 and April 2021 alone.
It’s unclear if Toyota Australia might take a similar hype-building approach with the GR Corolla.
But given the GR Yaris costs $49,500 (or $54,500 for the Rallye), it’s hard to imagine the GR Corolla priced at less than $60,000 when it lobs between October and December 2022.
|GR Corolla||GR Yaris|
|Engine||1.6 3-cyl turbo||1.6 3-cyl turbo|
|Power||220kW @ 6500rpm||200kW @ 6500rpm|
|Torque||370Nm @ 3000-5550rpm||370Nm @ 3000-4600rpm|
|Gearbox||Six-speed manual (iMT)||Six-speed manual (iMT)|
|Config.||Variable AWD, front and rear torsen LSD||Variable AWD, front and rear torsen LSD|