Toyota has been catching a lot of flak for its partnerships in recent years. first with Subaru to build the 86, and then BMW to build the Supra. But, Toyota in fact did have its own performance car, the GR Yaris, rudely dangled before us from afar. We’ve watched with envy as our friends in Japan and Europe enjoyed Toyota’s WRC-homologation special. Now it, or a version of it, is at last coming to US shores in the form of the Toyota GR Corolla.
Toyota has already been shoving the turbo 1.6-liter 3-cylinder of the GR Yaris into Corollas and racing them in Japan. The GR Corolla will be built in the same factory as the GR Yaris, but in GR Corolla, its motor will make 300 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque, which is even more power than the GR Yaris makes in other markets. They won’t half-ass the transmission, either; it’ll come only in a 6-speed manual.
When Toyota unveiled the GR Yaris they did it with the Celica GT-Four on stage, a callback to Toyota’s WRC lineage. They’ve been calling the new all-wheel-drive system that underpins the Yaris and Corolla GR-Four — a bit forced but at least they’re acknowledging their rally history. The system can split front-to-rear distribution from 60/40 to 50/50 to 30/70. The brakes consist of fixed four-piston calipers with ventilated and slotted rotors, while the rear brakes have fixed two-piston calipers with ventilated rotors.
Normally, we’d prefer the most lightweight package available, but in this case we do think the Corolla body fits better with the US market. The Yaris isn’t sold any longer, and even when it was it was a (very good) rebadged Mazda anyway. Curb weight rings in at 3,249 pounds, 400 pounds more than GR Yaris. The GR Corolla isn’t exactly pretty. It looks like a Corolla on steroids, with flared fenders and vents and a gigantic grille, but with the performance it’s packing it’ll hardly matter.
Toyota’s kicking off the GR Corolla with a fully-loaded Circuit Edition. It’ll come with a forged carbon-fiber roof, vented hood, matte-black 18-inch wheels that’ll surely be impossible to keep clean, and a shift knob emblazoned with CEO Akio Toyoda’s racing alter-ego “Morizo” signature. It also features Torsen limited-slip diffs front and rear, options that’ll be available on the Performance Package. It’ll have an exclusive GR racing color interior in red and black.
Needless to say we’re stoked about having the GR Corolla stateside. From all the reviews we’ve read from Japan and Europe the GR Yaris an insane firecracker of a car. And with even Subaru abandoning gasoline-powered STI models this will be the only game in town for those who love rally-inspired performance. The GR Corolla arrives in showrooms in fall of 2022.