One of 25 – sounds pretty cool, right?
The 2023 Toyota GR Corolla Morizo Edition is one of the most exclusive new cars on the market right now, with just 25 units secured for the initial Australian allocation.
While more could be on the table for future model years, it appears the entire production run for 2023 could well be snapped up already, with even the standard GR Corolla arriving in limited numbers.
The Morizo Edition is named after the pseudonym Toyota chairman and master driver Akio Toyoda uses when he takes to the racetrack, and takes the already wild rally-bred GR Corolla and turns it up to 11.
Compared to the regular version, the Morizo Edition is 30kg lighter, courtesy of the rear seats being removed as well as lightweight 18-inch BBS forged alloy wheels – which are wrapped in sticky 245/40 Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres, 10mm wider than those of the standard model.
There’s a carbon-fibre reinforced plastic roof (-2.5kg) which also lowers the centre of gravity, while further mass has been saved by removing features like steering wheel heating, parking sensors, and the wireless phone charger, as well as using single-zone climate control instead of dual-zone.
Further, the 1.6-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine has seen torque increased to 400Nm (+30Nm) from 3250rpm. Power remains the same at 221kW (5500rpm).
A recalibrated six-speed intelligent manual transmission scores revised gear ratios for first and third for better torque response, likewise the final gear ratio. The spring inside the synchroniser has also been strengthened for an improved shift action “during sports driving”.
It’s also priced from a lofty $77,800 plus on-road costs, though it’s understood the entire 25-vehicle run for 2023 has already been accounted for.
Basically, this is what the lovechild of a Corolla and Porsche 911 GT3 RS would be like.
A lot. As mentioned earlier, the Morizo Edition is priced from $77,800 before on-road costs.
That’s a whole $15,500 more than the GR Corolla GTS which actually has a higher level of specification if you discount some of the racier elements, and is more widely available with around 700 units bound for Australia this year.
It’s also quite a bit more than the Honda Civic Type R ($72,600 drive-away) which, while front-wheel drive only, is a similarly hardcore Japanese hot hatch honed for the race track.
Perhaps its closest rival on price is the likewise limited-run Volkswagen Golf R 20 Years ($77,490), which is limited to just 50 units in Australia, offers even more power (245kW/420Nm) and features all-wheel drive. Unlike the Toyota, however, the VW uses a slick-shifting dual-clutch auto as standard.
You can also have the GR Corolla Morizo Edition in model-exclusive Matte Steel exterior point, which adds a further $2500 – $80,300 before on-roads!
A lot like a GR Corolla, which itself isn’t far off the regular Corolla.
The Morizo Edition obviously lacks a second row of seating and instead has a new floor brace and an extended boot floor, and up front there have been a few features stripped out in the name of weight-saving.
You get different front bucket seats that feature holes for racing harnesses, and are trimmed in a special Brin Naub perforated suede upholstery. The seats themselves offer extra side and seat base bolstering than the standard seats to “maximise occupant grip and stability during performance driving”.
The racy suede trim extends to the steering wheel rim, shift knob and manual handbrake as well, with the red 12 o’clock marker and shift knob accent ring finished in red alumite metal.
Toyota’s motorsport red theme continues with red top-stitching throughout the cabin.
The Morizo Edition takes out things like dual-zone climate control, a wireless smartphone charger, and native satellite navigation in the name of weight saving, as well as swapping out the GTS’s eight-speaker JBL audio system for a basic two-speaker unit.
It all feels quite focused but it doesn’t necessarily feel ‘special’ like the Civic Type R’s bright red cabin. There are fewer soft-touch surfaces in the cabin than regular Corolla variants, and the lack of a centre armrest will grate on longer journeys, even if it frees up elbow room for when you’re rowing through those gears.
I will say the racing seats are really comfortable, with good bolstering and adjustment to allow drivers of different shapes and sizes to get settled for track driving.
My 6’1 frame easily fit in the driver’s seat with a helmet on, though that’s helped by the height adjustment. When riding shotgun with Rick Bates, I felt like I was nudging the headliner with the helmet on.
There’s not much behind the first row, save for a couple of strut braces and a bare boot floor.
Toyota has swapped out the powered rear windows of other Corolla variants for fixed units, and it’s all bare plastic trimmings in the back – kind of like the shell feel of a race car.
According to the Japanese brand, the dipping rear floor allows for a set of four tyres to be transported in the boot if you need spares for track days, and the removal of the second-row seats alone sheds 10kg of weight.
Boot volume is rated at 229 litres (VDA), which is a 16L improvement on the GR Corolla GTS. A tyre repair kit is fitted under the boot floor.
The Morizo Edition gets a slightly uprated version of the 1.6-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine used in the regular GR Corolla as well as the smaller GR Yaris.
Torque has increased to 400Nm (+30Nm) from 3250-4600rpm – though power remains the same at 221kW (5500rpm).
The six-speed intelligent manual transmission gets revised gear ratios for first and third gears for better torque response, likewise the final gear ratio. The spring inside the synchroniser has also been strengthened for an improved shift action “during sports driving”, Toyota says.
It’s all channelled to a GR-Four all-wheel drive system, with Torsen limited-slip differentials on the front and rear axles.
An electrically controlled multi-plate clutch on the rear axle distributes torque front-rear, with adjustable distribution ranging from 50:50 to 30:70, while the Torsen LSDs vector torque across the axles to shuffle drive to the wheels with the most grip.
Toyota claims the GR Corolla Morizo Edition will dash from 0-100km/h in 5.21 seconds, compared to the standard GR Corolla’s 5.29s claim. Top speed is unchanged at 230km/h.
Fuel consumption is rated at 8.6L/100km on the combined cycle, 0.2L more than the GTS. The GR Corolla requires 98 RON premium unleaded for its 50-litre fuel tank
First things first: we only drove the Morizo Edition on track.
The highly exclusive nature of this special GR Corolla means that Toyota kept the test drive within the confines of Broadford Speedway in Victoria’s north – a short and tight circuit that rewards smaller vehicles with tight handling.
After a couple of sighting laps with rally legend Rick Bates at the wheel, we were able to take the Morizo Edition for a few hot laps to get a feel for the revised powertrain and transmission, as well as how all of the special model’s track-focused modifications come together on a circuit.
Having recently stepped out of a GR Corolla GTS, I was keen to see if the Morizo Edition felt noticeably different when driving it hard, given that tends to be the theme of the track special’s pitch.
Pretty quickly you’ll notice the reduced sound deadening compared to the GTS, which allows more of that thrummy three-cylinder engine note into the cabin – and presumably more tyre and wind noise, but we didn’t sample the Morizo on public roads.
I noticed the gearbox and throttle response felt sharper and more responsive right away as well. At times with the GTS I found first into second and then second into third a little funny to get right at times, but the Morizo’s revised ratios and extra torque make it feel a lot more sprightly, and the reinforced synchroniser makes for a more solid-feeling and confident shift action, at least to me.
While purists will likely take the first opportunity to switch the intelligent rev-matching function off, I found it quite helpful so I could focus on braking and steering rather than fumbling around with my feet trying to heel-toe. Rick Bates himself said he liked the fact it’s one less thing to worry about when you’re on track, and the Toyota’s system is really well calibrated.
The Morizo feels very eager to go fast at all times. Throttle response feels more immediate, and the tighter gears make it quite a fun thing to row through as you power down straights.
Broadford is not a particularly long or fast course, but I was pulling over 170km/h according to the speedo before hitting the brakes, and I was being conservative with my brake markers. There’s so much torque that you won’t even realise how fast you’re going until you glance down at the cluster.
Speaking of, the anchors felt pretty solid and reassuring even when jumping on them at the end of the straights. The Morizo retains the GTS’s 356mm front and 297mm rear ventilated discs, with four-piston calipers up front and two-pot units at the rear.
Pedal feel didn’t fade even after a number of laps at decent clip, and there’s a reassuring linearity to pedal travel and brake response so you don’t have one of those “oh sh**” moments when hitting the anchors at 170km/h ahead of a right-hander.
To improve rigidity further, Toyota has slathered an extra 3.3m of structural adhesive to various points of the car.
Other changes under the skin include a revised suspension setup. The front MacPherson struts are now fitted with inverted monotube shock absorbers, while monotube shocks accompany the rear double-wishbones. Toyota claims this all comes together to improve roll rigidity and overall handling response.
Does it work? Well, every aspect of the GR Corolla Morizo feels that little bit tighter and focused than the GTS. Between the reduced weight, more rigid body and stickier tyres, it felt that much more tied down and confident going around Broadford, but that’s not to say the GTS isn’t already a very accomplished driver’s car.
We had the Morizo in its Expert mode, which effectively disables the ESC and traction control systems to allow the GR Corolla to really let loose on track, but there was so much grip courtesy of the tricky differentials and sticky tyres that I didn’t have the rear end kick out at all – clearly I’m not the one doing skiddy-skids in the supplied press images.
GR Corolla GTS highlights:
- LED headlights
- Auto high-beam
- Rear privacy glass
- Triple exhaust tips
- Power-folding, heated side mirrors
- 235/40 R18 Yokohama ADVAN tyres
- Tyre repair kit
- Front, rear Torsen limited-slip differentials
- Rear spoiler
- AWD modes (60:40, 30:70, 50:50)
- 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster
- 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system
- Wireless Apple CarPlay
- Wired Android Auto
- Satellite navigation
- Toyota Connected Services
- Heated steering wheel
- Wireless phone charger
- 8-speaker JBL premium audio system
- 1 x USB-C port in centre console
- Dual-zone climate control
- Three-stroke leather steering wheel
- Heated front seats
- Manual seat adjustment
GR Corolla Morizo adds:
- Carbon-fibre roof
- GR badge on intercooler
- 18-inch BBS forged alloy wheels
- 245/40 ZR18 Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 Connect Tyres
- Unique Morizo Edition shift knob design
- Carbon-fibre blank plates for rear window switches
- Front sports seats with harness holes
- Slots in the carpet to allow harness fitment
- Additional bracing in the cabin incl. harness-rated top bar
- Fixed rear windows
- 2-speaker audio system
- Removes dual-zone climate control
- Removes heated steering wheel
- Removes wireless phone charger
- Removes rear seats
- Removes parking sensors
- Removes satellite navigation
- Removes electric rear windows
- Removes rear windscreen wiper
- Frosted White Pearl
- Tarmac Black
- Matte Steel
There GR Corolla doesn’t wear a specific safety rating, however, according to ANCAP’s website “all variants” of the Corolla Hatch wear a five-star ANCAP safety rating based on 2018 tests.
Toyota Australia made it clear that just because the GR Corolla has a different intent to the standard Corolla range, it is designed to offer the same advanced safety features available to other owners.
It also has the Toyota Connected Services system, which can call emergency services in the event of an accident.
Standard safety features include:
- 7 airbags incl. driver’s knee
- Autonomous emergency braking (AEB)
- Pedestrian detection (day/night)
- Cyclist detection (day)
- Blind-spot monitoring
- Emergency steering assist
- Front, rear parking sensors
- Intersection assist
- Lane departure warning
- Lane Trace Assist (centring)
- Rear cross-traffic alert
- Reversing camera
- Speed sign recognition
GR Corolla Morizo Edition changes:
- Removes parking sensors
- Removes rear wiper
Like the wider range, the GR Corolla is covered by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, extending to seven years on engine and driveline if you maintain your vehicle within the Toyota dealership network.
Scheduled maintenance is required at relatively short six-month/10,000km intervals – whichever comes first.
Toyota offers capped-price servicing for the first three years or 60,000 kilometres (six visits all up) with each service priced at $300 a pop. That amounts to $2400 over said time period.
For reference, a three-year Care Plan for the Volkswagen Golf R lists for $1750, while Honda charges $199 for each of the Civic Type R’s first five visits ($995 total).
This is one of the few instances where a Toyota is the more expensive of its rivals to maintain.
If the regular GR made the Corolla nameplate ‘cool’, then the Morizo has to make it ‘desirable’.
Even at its lofty price point, there is next to nothing at this end of the market with the kind of hardcore approach to weight saving and trackability – even the Civic Type R can carry four adults and isn’t anywhere near as limited.
This is a passion project for Toyota, and that emotion is palpable. From the two-seat interior with added bracing in the rear to the forged alloy wheels and sticky track tyres, it’s as if the usually sensible and demure Japanese brand’s team just said “f*** it, let’s have fun” – and I love it all the more for it.
A car like this doesn’t have to be perfect for it to garner the awe of its exclusive owner’s club and lookers on, and if anything it’s the imperfections and rough-around-the-edges vibe that makes it that much more endearing.
How cool is it that a Toyota Corolla of all things has been turned into a track-carving race car for the road? The pearl white one in the images here even looks like a body-in-white track car pre-livery – maybe it’s just me, but I’m obsessed.
If you’ve managed to get your hands on one, lucky you! Just make sure you actually drive it, please.
Click the images for the full gallery