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2023 Toyota GR Corolla Review: Enhanced Power and Comfort

Image Source: Miro Vrlik Photography / Shutterstock

In the past, the Toyota Corolla did not really catch the eye of enthusiasts since the days of the AE86. However, Toyota has been working on enhancing the Corolla’s appeal by injecting more sportiness into the mix. With the latest generation, Toyota introduced the sportier Corolla Apex and even included a manual transmission in the Corolla hatchback. Now, Toyota is satisfying the desires of hot hatch enthusiasts with the debut of the 2023 GR Corolla.

The GR Corolla is Toyota’s response to competitors like the Honda Civic Type R and Volkswagen Golf R. The specs of the GR Corolla are quite impressive on paper. It is equipped with a 1.6-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine producing 300 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque, with the Morizo version boasting 295 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to all four wheels through a six-speed manual transmission, and Toyota estimates the GR Corolla can accelerate from 0-60 mph in under five seconds.

In addition to the upgraded powertrain, Toyota has made other enhancements, such as a sportier non-adaptive suspension with improved coil springs, shocks, and stabilizers. The Morizo edition comes with stiffer spring rates. To enhance rigidity, the body has 349 additional spot welds and extra structural adhesive. Additional bracing has been added in the underfloor tunnel and rear wheelhouse. Stopping power is provided by 12-inch front brakes and 11.7-inch rear rotors.

An exciting feature is the ability to adjust how much torque is sent to the front and rear wheels with three different settings. The default setting allocates 60% of the power to the rear wheels, but you can also select a 50:50 setup or 30:70 distribution. We had the opportunity to test these settings on the track at the Utah Motorsports Campus, where the GR Corolla performed admirably. The “rear” setting, which sends up to 70% of the torque to the rear wheels, makes the car more fun to handle around corners, albeit slightly slower on the track due to increased play at the rear.

A Track mode with a 50:50 torque distribution provides more control on the track, resulting in higher speeds. The Circuit and Morizo Editions feature front and rear Torsen limited-slip differentials, with the option for these on the base Core trim level. The Morizo Edition, with its stiffer springs and weight reduction of 100 pounds, excels on the track. It sheds weight by eliminating rear seats, rear wiper, rear speakers, and rear window motors. The Morizo Edition’s distinctive features include lighter forged wheels with Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, a carbon fiber roof, functional brake ducts, and a hood with functional ducts. Interior-wise, the seats are upholstered in synthetic suede and leather.

Though the Morizo Edition may be hard to find due to limited production, the GR Corolla Circuit trim level offers most of the same features without the weight savings and suspension upgrades. However, the Circuit Edition will only be available for the 2023 model year, with no announcements regarding future versions from Toyota.

Wondering how the GR Corolla feels on the road? The acceleration is robust, albeit not mind-blowing. Some turbo lag is noticeable, the steering feels somewhat light, and the gearbox performs adequately. The GR Corolla is equipped with the iMT rev-match system, which can be easily deactivated. Despite its sportier nature, the GR Corolla maintains a comfortable ride suitable for daily driving.

The 2023 GR Corolla will be offered in three versions: Core, Circuit Edition ($43,995), and Morizo Edition ($50,995). The Core version is available with three packages: Performance, Technology, and Cold Weather. The Performance package ($11,80) includes front and rear limited-slip differentials, 4-piston aluminum fixed-caliper disc brakes, red calipers, and upgraded brakes. The Technology package ($770) adds an enhanced JBL audio system with navigation and a wireless charger, while the Cold Weather package ($500) includes heated front seats and a heated steering wheel.

Overall, the GR Corolla is a fantastic hot hatch that adds excitement to the Corolla lineup. With a lower starting price compared to the VW Golf R, the GR Corolla is more accessible. The question now lingers on how it stacks up against the 2023 Honda Civic Type R. Regardless, the GR Corolla stands out as an impressive hot hatch deserving of the Gazoo Racing badge.

Image Source: Miro Vrlik Photography / Shutterstock

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