The Corolla GR hatch is on its way to the USA
Then, the Corolla GR is another addition to a group of approximately 300 HP 4 cylinder hot sports cars here in the USA. Most people will compare it to the Civic Type R, Veloster N, Golf R, STI and the discontinued Focus RS & Mitsubishi EVO which still are relevant due to their popularity.
The Corolla GR will be AWD joining a lot of the other cars with only the Veloster N and Civic Type R being FWD. Therefore, it will be considered by many who want another AWD choice for winter driving. This undoubtedly, will be a consideration for those living in colder climates.
The Corolla GR is rumored to be a 2.4L with approximately 300 HP. This displacement is close to the 2.5L for the STI, and therefore it should hopefully “pull” well with the larger displacement over some of the other cars. Historically, Toyota’s HP is underrated. So, one can hope that the 300 HP is a modest number especially for those that will consider tuning it.
One look at a Corolla on the road, or walk up to a Corolla hatch and you will notice it is a smaller car then most of the others in its grouping. This may be due to its body shape, but I am pretty sure a STI is going to looking substantially bigger than it. It also sits fairly low in stock form. So, one can hope that the car stays fairly light despite adding AWD. We certainly hope with Toyota’s development of the FRS and Supra that they kept this in mind.
More often than not, we see a lot of cars performance assessed by road course times these days. Long gone are the days where 0-60 and ¼ mile times are the major consideration in purchasing a car. Many cars prove their performance at Virginia International Raceway or the Nuremberg Ring in Germany.
So, how will this Corolla GR perform on a road course?
Again, Toyota has put a lot of work into re-establishing themselves in the sports car world with the super handling FRS and the road course capable Supra (which disappointed people it wasn’t built with more horsepower). Clearly, their dedication is to making those cars “track choices” for their perspective buyers.
Therefore, one would suspect the Corolla GR will come with bigger and better brakes and a good stock suspension that is adjustable with a push of a button as well. While the larger displacement and suspected underrated HP should help the car be a fairly quick car like the others it will likely suffer from the hatch design at higher speeds. (Oddly enough, only the STI currently comes in sedan for a new purchase).
I have personal experience with this aerodynamic issue. I tracked Subaru WRX-STi from 2009 – 2014, and my 2011 STI was clearly faster down the straights than my 2008 STI.
I have owned and/or driven many of these cars on track. In addition to the STI, I owned a Focus RS which was a joy as a daily driver but not very good on the track in dry conditions. It would overheat the AWD system after 4 laps at most tracks, and was very sluggish down the straights.
I enjoyed driving my STI a lot, but the EJ25 engine was not reliable and that was my main reason for selling it after it had its second short block put into it. Hopefully, the new engine coming for the STI in 2023 is much better.
I have not driven the Veloster N or Golf R, but both of these cars seem reliable and very fun choices and I personally enjoy watching them on track.
I have also driven the Civic Type R on track a couple times. These were very pleasurable and confidence inspiring drives. Still, it is FWD only and I would really prefer AWD for winter driving.
Ultimately what should we expect from the Corolla GR? I think what we will find is a nice new addition to this portion of the market. The car should handle well due to the development of the FRS and Supra, and the power should be good as well. Most importantly, the allure of a dependable Toyota fast hatch will draw in a lot of people. The car should look aggressive, but not be over styled like many people feel the Civic Type R is. I think Toyota did an amazing job with the redesign of the FRS, and while not everyone is sold on the Supra looks... a lot of people do like it in person.