It’s a bit blurry and pixellated, but you’re looking at Toyota’s next hot hatch.
Motor1 published this screenshot, revealing the upcoming Toyota GR Corolla expected to debut in the second half of 2022.
Based on the Corolla hatch, the teased GR Corolla is still obscured by camouflage but there looks to be a more aggressive-looking front end.
Overall, there’s a much closer resemblance between the GR Corolla and Corolla than with the GR Yaris and regular Yaris.
That’s perhaps not surprising given the GR Yaris is a homologation special that effectively mates the rear of a Corolla to a Yaris and, externally, shares only its headlights, tail lights and mirrors with the regular Yaris.
It’s unlikely the Corolla’s brief appearance in (and later removal from) the GR 86 video was an accident, as Toyota USA has been running a rather esoteric teaser campaign.
Earlier in 2021, it published a photo of the standard Corolla hatchback’s interior that appeared innocuous at first, but upon closer inspection featured several clues.
Perhaps the most obvious, if still incredibly easy to miss, was the appearance of a blurry, camouflaged vehicle in the distance that’s almost certainly a GR Corolla prototype.
Look at the Corolla’s dashboard and you’ll find subtler hints.
The only numbers visible on the climate control display, for example, are 2 6 8 – the horsepower rating of the GR Yaris, from which the GR Corolla is expected to borrow its turbocharged 1.6-litre three-cylinder engine.
Another hint to the engine can be found in the instrument cluster, where a readout displays G:16. The GR Yaris’ engine is called the G16E-GTS.
Look at the navigation display and you can see the Corolla is parked near a road called GR Four, referencing the GR Yaris’ four-wheel drive system.
Toyota USA has been actively promoting the GR Corolla as it’ll be their first hot hatch in just over 30 years. The GR Yaris isn’t sold in North America and there are no plans to introduce it there.
We’d be surprised if it didn’t come here given Toyota’s high-profile push of the Gazoo Racing sub-brand Down Under, which included sharp introductory offers for the GR Yaris.
The GR Yaris’ three-pot is tuned to deliver 200kW of power and 370Nm of torque, with a 220kW output expected for the GR Corolla.
In the GR Yaris, all of this is put to the road through a six-speed manual transmission and a sophisticated four-wheel drive system that can send 70 per cent of its torque to the rear axle. A manual seems likely for the GR Corolla.
It’s unclear if an automatic transmission is planned. Rival hot hatches like the Ford Focus ST, Hyundai i30 N, Renault Megane RS Trophy 300 and Volkswagen Golf GTI and R all offer one, as does Toyota’s current 86 coupe and its upcoming GR86 successor.
The Honda Civic Type R is expected to remain manual-only, however.
Even with only an extra 20kW over a GR Yaris and an unchanged torque figure, a GR Corolla would still stack up well in the small hot hatch segment.
A Golf GTI puts out 180kW and 370Nm, while an i30 N produces 206kW and 392Nm, a Megane RS Trophy 300 produces 221kW and 420Nm and a Focus ST 206kW and 420Nm.
As with the GR Yaris, we expect to see enhancements like grippier front seats, a bespoke suspension tune and bigger brakes.
The GR Yaris was followed by the GR Yaris Rallye, which packed a different suspension tune, front and rear locking differentials and 18-inch forged BBS alloy wheels in Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres.
It’s unclear if the GR Corolla range will also feature a ‘regular’ and a more hardcore, track-optimised version.