The Toyota GR Corolla is undoubtedly one of 2023’s most anticipated hot hatches, set to land in our market in just a matter of weeks.

    Although production will be very limited in numbers, it extends the GR family as a big brother to the mechanically related GR Yaris.

    At this stage just 500 units are slated to come in its first year. Given the expected demand, it’s expected plenty of potential customers will miss out on a car.

    One of the reasons the GR Corolla is proving to be a big drawcard for the Japanese brand is its aggressive, modern design.

    Given it carries a high performance all-wheel drive powertrain that outshines the one found in the GR Yaris, the design team at Gazoo Racing have upped the ante to match its performance.

    We did a quick walk around video with four-time Australian Rally Champion, Neal Bates, who explained all the different design elements and their uses.

    Powering the GR Corolla is the same 12-valve ‘G16E-GTS’ 1.6-litre three-cylinder (single-scroll ball-bearing) turbo as used in the GR Yaris, but now pumping out an extra 20kW of power.

    Official figures rate the GR Corolla at 220kW at 6500rpm, while the torque is an unchanged 370Nm between 3000 and 5550rpm – except in the Morizo Edition, which offers 220kW and 400Nm.

    The 2023 Toyota GR Corolla has some distinct characteristics over the standard car. The front fender overhang is 20mm longer per front side, and 30mm on the rear. The bonnet height is raised by 25mm with a power bulge to fit the engine.

    Look closely and you’ll notice the rear edge of the GR Corolla’s fenders has been shortened for what Toyota says is aerodynamic performance, which is also why the differentiated front under spoiler carries a noticeably raised central and horizontal section to better manage airflow.

    Other changes include:

    • Corner lips to generate downforce during cornering
    • Side curtain inlets on the outer flanks of the front bumper manage airflow through wheelhouse, reducing turbulence and drag
    • Round air outlet streamlines airflow to surfaces to enhance stability and controllability
    • Fender duct at the rear of the front fender reduces engine bay turbulence, and allows airflow down the side of the car
    • Bonnet ducts help manage airflow through the engine bay reducing drag, enhancing stability, and improving cooling
    • Spats in front of front and rear wheels deflect airflow under the car from hitting the tyres
    • Front fender-liner air outlet designed to direct airflow from wheelhouse
    • Wide gapless underfloor cover reduces air disturbance and accelerates airflow to reduce drag, with aero-stabilising fins to direct airflow
    • Rear bumper duct extracts air from inside rear bumper, enhancing stability
    • Rear bumper side shape streamlines surfaces, controls airflow along the vehicle, enhancing stability and reducing drag
    • A rear diffuser has been adopted, aiming to enhance aerodynamic performance.

    As you can seen in the video, the rear diffuser is home to three tailpipes, with the larger centre outlet kept open at idle and under 30km/h to emphasise the Corolla’s exhaust note, before closing off. Above 4500rpm it reopens to reduce back-pressure.

    On the whole, the GR Corolla is anything but just a tweaked Corolla ZR.

    It’s assembled at the same skunkworks section of Toyota’s Motomachi plant as the GR Yaris and (formerly) Lexus LFA, with more manual assembly techniques and slower build times – hence the low production numbers.

    While the GR Corolla uses the donor car’s GA-C platform, the body has 349 more spot welds, and up to 20 feet of added structural adhesive.

    MORE: Toyota GR Corolla review

    Alborz Fallah

    Alborz is the founder of CarAdvice (sold to Nine and now Drive) and co-founder of CarExpert. He is an honourary adjunct professor & entrepreneur in residence at the University of QLD. He loves naturally-aspirated V8s, V10s and V12s and is in denial about the impending death of the internal combustion engine.

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