2023 Toyota GR Corolla, All you want to know & watch about a Great Car
2023 Toyota GR Corolla First Ride: It Has a Knack for the Track
The most powerful Corolla ever is going to be GReat.
The 2023 Toyota GR Corolla is one of the new cars we’re most excited about this year. With its 300-hp turbocharged 1.6-liter three-cylinder engine, adjustable-torque-split all-wheel drive, and available trio of limited-slip differentials, the GR Corolla is the rare hot hatch capable of distracting us from the upcoming next-gen Honda Civic Type R.
Though we’ve yet to drive the GR Corolla, we were given a taste of its capabilities at Eagles Canyon Raceway north of Dallas, Texas, with a professional hot shoe at the wheel—and we even got to ride in both a Circuit model and the newly announced Morizo Edition.
Available only as a hatchback, the GR Corolla is the third model under Toyota’s Gazoo Racing division, following the GR86 and Supra sports cars to market.
The 2023 Toyota GR Corolla is the first GR based on a regular Toyota model, and sees the Corolla hatch receive a thorough transformation bordering on the feral: A stiffer suspension and bigger brakes, a more rigid chassis with extra body welds, a triple-outlet exhaust, and a six-speed manual transmission. With Formula Drift drivers Jhonnattan Castro piloting the Morizo Edition and Ryan Tuerck at the wheel of the Circuit Edition, here’s what we learned about how the GR Corolla behaves at the limit:
The GR Corolla Circuit Edition
Limited to the GR Corolla’s launch model year, the Circuit Edition is packed with go-fast hardware, including front and rear Torsen mechanical limited slip differentials, a carbon fiber roof and hood, and an AWD system that can adjust the power split 60/40, 30/70 or 50/50 front-to-rear. Our car was set to the 50/50 configuration, which was specifically designed for track driving.
Eagles Canyon Raceway is an undulating, relatively low-speed track with few proper straightaways, and the out-and-back laps we were given nixed the main straight altogether, as the adjacent pit lane was used for staging our rides. Our driver, Ryan Tuerck, rolled into the throttle as we pulled out of the pits and immediately bore down on a 90-degree righthander.
From the passenger’s seat, we detected very little body roll hitting this corner—and subsequent squiggles—aggressively, and even though the tires squealed more than expected, they showed good grip despite being relatively cold at the start of our run. Power was delivered quickly, and the suspension felt firm but perhaps not as firm as the very buttoned-down Hyundai Kona N or Elantra N. Softer or otherwise, the GR Corolla nonetheless telegraphs its sportiness through the chassis.
Glancing over at the tachometer, we could see the engine speed climbing quickly as we shot between Eagles Canyon’s corners, with the digital instrument cluster changing colors from white to orange to red to indicate when it was time to shift the six-speed manual. From behind the wheel, Tuerck noted that GR Corolla feels planted behind the wheel, and while it’s easy to overdrive the tires, he agreed they are well suited for the car. Tuerck also said the third gear ratio is perhaps a bit too tall, but that’s something you’d only notice at a racetrack.
The GR Corolla Morizo Edition
If you need a step above the GR Corolla, the Morizo Edition is the one to get. Named after Akio Toyoda’s racing alter ego, “Morizo,” the Morizo Edition deletes the rear seat and gets 22 lb-ft more torque from its turbo triple from some software tuning, for a total of 295 lb-ft of torque. The rear seat speakers, window lifts, and rear wiper and wiper motor are nixed, too. All in all, the Morizo is the leanest GR Corolla you can get, saving about 100 pounds compared to the Circuit Edition.
While an additional 22 lb-ft of torque doesn’t sound like much (especially when you have close to 300 lb-ft), it made a big difference on the track. The GR Corolla Morizo felt like it put power down quicker while delivering more oomph. Perhaps it was a combination of a punchier engine and the Morizo’s shorter-ratio gearbox, or even its Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, but there was some extra anger in this GR Corolla, which will be limited in production but also will survive past the 2023 model year (unlike the Circuit Edition).
Or maybe it was Castro’s abilities and sense of abandon behind the wheel, as the Dominican driver didn’t leave anything on the table. With the stability and traction control systems disabled, Castro flew up and down the track’s elevation changes and charged through its many bends with glee. Castro remarked that the GR Corolla Morizo Edition is easy to drive and predictable. The exhaust note is loud for a three-cylinder engine, and the glorious, guttural sound invaded the cabin every time Castro stepped on the gas.
We’ll reserve our full judgement on the GR Corolla for when it arrives later this summer. In the meantime, we’ll have to mix our right-seat feelings with mid-hot-lap remarks from Castro and Tuerck for an idea of how awesome the GR Corolla is. One thing is for sure: We the experience left us even more eager to get into the driver’s seat ourselves.
|2023 Toyota GR Corolla Specifications|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, AWD, 2-5-pass, 4-door hatchback|
|ENGINE||1.6L/300-hp/273-295-lb-ft turbo DOHC 12-valve I-3|
|TRANSMISSION||8-speed twin-clutch auto|
|CURB WEIGHT||3,150-3,250 lb (mfr)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||173.5 x 72.9 x 57.2 in|
|0-60 MPH||5.5 sec (MT est)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||N/A|
|EPA RANGE, COMB||N/A|
|ON SALE||Late 2022, Early 2023|
- The 2023 Toyota GR Corolla is gaining a track version, the Morizo Edition, which gains 22 pound-feet of torque for a total of 295 pound-feet.
- The Morizo also sheds a claimed 106 pounds, doing away with the rear seats, speakers, rear window regulators, and rear wiper blade and motor.
- The sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires should boost grip, and only 200 units of the Morizo will be built for 2023.
The 2023 Toyota GR Corolla is ready to hit the track with the newly revealed Morizo Edition. This special edition shaves almost 100 pounds of weight, ramps up the engine’s torque output, and should tighten the sporty Corolla’s handling thanks to stickier rubber and increased rigidity. Just 200 units will be built for the 2023 model year, with pricing to be announced later this year.
The Morizo Edition arrives with the same 300-horsepower turbocharged 1.6-liter three-cylinder engine as the Core and Circuit editions, but tuned to produce an extra 22 pound-feet of torque for a total of 295 pound-feet. Peak torque is between 3250 and 4600 rpm, a slightly smaller plateau than the 3000-5500 rpm range in the standard car. The Morizo also has close-ratio version of the six-speed manual transmission with shorter differential gears.
Weight declines from 3292 pounds in the Circuit Edition to 3186 pounds in the Morizo, with Toyota ditching the rear seats and associated hardware including the door speakers, window regulators, and rear wiper blade and motor. There are also redesigned 18-inch forged wheels, which are now wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires. The Morizo Edition also gets special front brake ducts.
Toyota says the suspension has been retuned, and the Morizo Edition is also fitted with red-painted monotube shock absorbers. Two extra rear strut braces should increase rigidity, as will the same extra spot welds and additional structural adhesive on the frame that come on every GR Corolla. The Morizo Edition comes with standard front and rear Torsen limited-slip differentials like the Circuit Edition.
The Morizo Edition’s interior is decked out with red and black Ultrasuede and leather seats, with Ultrasuede appearing on the steering wheel and shift knob, too. Despite the two strut braces stretching across the rear of the cabin, the Morizo Edition can carry four tires for a track day. The Morizo Edition will be offered in Windchill Pearl and an exclusive new matte gray paint hue, and will hit Toyota dealerships next year. Expect a price premium for this track special, although Toyota has yet to announce pricing for any GR Corolla models yet.
BY CALEB MILLER
Toyota has turned its performance-vehicle skunkworks division, Gazoo Racing, loose to apply the tuner treatment to the compact Corolla hatchback. And what a good bit of work they’ve done: the end result is the 2023 GR Corolla—and it’s a little terror. Toyota has already unleashed a GR-tuned version of its Yaris subcompact car in global markets, from which the GR Corolla borrows its turbocharged 1.6-liter, three-cylinder engine.
The little triple is amped up here to 300 high-strung horsepower and comes only with a six-speed manual transmission and all-wheel drive. Toyota’s been on a crusade in recent years to add excitement to its lineup with sportier offerings—witness the revived Supra sports car—and more stylish designs, and this rally-racer inspired hot hatchback should help that effort. We expect to see the GR Corolla in Toyota showrooms before the end of 2022.
What’s New for 2023?
The GR Corolla will be a new addition to the Toyota lineup for 2023 and will go up against popular sport compacts such as the Honda Civic Si, Hyundai Veloster N, and the 10Best award-winning Volkswagen Golf GTI and Jetta GLI. In fact, given its price and horsepower the GR Corolla will likely challenge the topmost tier of hot hatches—the Volkswagen Golf R and the upcoming Honda Civic Type R.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
Toyota hasn’t released pricing for the GR Corolla yet, but we expect the base Core trim to start out a little over $30,000 with the loaded Circuit Edition coming in closer to $40,000. We’d stick with the Core and splurge on the Performance package, which adds front and rear limited-slip differentials. The top-spec Morizo Edition trim will be built in very limited numbers—only 200 will be produced for 2023—and it’s been stripped of its rear seat and several other components to reduce weight and maximize performance.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Under the hood of the GR Corolla is a turbocharged three-cylinder engine plucked from the from the GR Yaris—a hatchback that the Japanese automaker sells in global markets outside of the United States. For the GR Corolla it was tuned-up to make 300 horsepower—an eye-opening 185.4 horsepower per liter, and 43 horsepower more than it makes in the GR Yaris.
A six-speed manual is the only transmission available, and all models come with Toyota’s GR-Four all-wheel drive system. The GR-Four system allows the driver to choose between different power-distribution modes, starting with a 60/40 front-to-rear split for everyday driving to up to 30/70 to allow for drifting antics; a 50/50 split option is intended to provide maximum traction for racing.
Current examples of the Corolla, even sporty SE and XSE models, don’t offer remotely racy handling or performance, but upgrades to the GR’s suspension and powertrain make it a legitimate contender in the sport compact car segment. The Circuit Edition trim comes standard with front and rear limited slip differentials; the base Core model offers those as an option.
The limited-edition Morizo is a track-focused model that comes with lighter-weight forged wheels, a retuned engine that produces 295 lb-ft of torque (the standard model makes 273 lb-ft), a uniquely calibrated suspension, and ultra-sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2rubber.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
While the current Corolla is both one of the more fuel-efficient options in its class and thoroughly somnambulant in its driving character, the high-performance GR variant is aimed purely at maximum performance. Thanks to its small 1.6-liter, three-cylinder engine, it should still deliver relatively decent fuel economy. We expect an EPA highway rating of around 30 mpg, which falls right between the Veloster N (29 mpg highway) and the Golf GTI (32 mpg highway). For more information about the GR Corolla’s fuel economy, visit the EPA’s website.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The GR Corolla shares most of its cabin with the standard Corolla hatchback, which means good build quality, soft-touch materials, and plenty of features, but with racier trim and sport seats. Standard equipment includes ambient interior lighting, a six-way adjustable driver’s seat, push-button start, and aluminum pedal covers. Automatic climate control, heated seats, and a heated steering wheel are all standard on the Circuit Edition, which also wears suede and faux-leather upholstery in place of the base model’s cloth.
The Morizo Edition promises an even higher level of excitement but at the cost of practicality; Toyota has removed the rear seat, rear speakers, and even the hatchback-mounted window wiper to save as much weight as possible. Less weight equals quicker lap times. The front seats are treated to an exclusive red-and-black upholstery scheme and there’s racy faux-suede on the shift knob, parking brake lever, and steering wheel rim.
Infotainment and Connectivity
An 8.0-inch infotainment display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will be standard and also includes Amazon Alexa capability and an on-board Wi-Fi hotspot. The Technology package on Core models adds an eight-speaker JBL stereo system, a wireless smartphone charging pad, and in-dash navigation; these items are all standard on the Circuit Edition.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
Toyota currently offers much of its driver-assistance technology as standard on most of its lineup, and the GR Corolla is no different. A host of desirable tech features are bundled together across the lineup and includes adaptive cruise control, pedestrian and cyclist detection, and automatic high-beam headlamps. For more information about the GR Corolla’s crash-test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites. Key safety features include:
- Standard automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection
- Standard lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist
- Standard adaptive cruise control
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
Like other Toyotas, the GR Corolla will come with a standard warranty package that’s enhanced by a two-year complimentary scheduled maintenance plan. Honda doesn’t offer such a plan on the Civic Si, but the Veloster N offers more value in the form of longer warranty periods as well as an extra year of free maintenance. All GR Corollas come with a one-year membership to the National Auto Sport Association, which includes access to a complimentary high-performance driving class.
- Limited warranty covers 3 years or 36,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers 5 years or 60,000 miles
- Complimentary maintenance is covered for 2 years or 25,000 miles
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