By and large, Toyota is known for dependable but boring cars. But among the millions of RAV4s and Camrys, there is evidence of a wilder streak. There’s the Supra, of course, which is flashy in a way that few cars are today. And there’s the GR Yaris, which was designed to homologate a rally car before a rule change rendered it obsolete.
“GR” stands for Gazoo Racing, and it seems that the GR magic transformed the Yaris into a cult favorite. Toyota didn’t sell this little three-cylinder, all-wheel-drive pocket rocket in the US market, but it will bring the follow-up, the GR Corolla, to the country. The GR Corolla is also powered by a turbocharged 1.6 L three-cylinder engine and features AWD, and it goes on sale later this year.
Like the GR Yaris, the GR Corolla is built at a special factory in Motomachi, Japan, as opposed to being made at the normal Corolla line at the company’s Takaoka plant. The car’s body has been strengthened with stronger welds and adhesives, and buyers get the option of a forged carbon-fiber roof to save weight where it really counts.
The GR version is wider than the regular Corolla, courtesy of flared wheel arches, and it’s studded with grilles and vents that variously suck in air for cooling or put the air to work by channeling it in the desired direction.
The GR Yaris and GR Corolla share the same turbocharged 1.6 L, three-cylinder engine (known as the G16E-GTS), although the GR Corolla has a new exhaust that puts out slightly more power—300 hp (223 kW) and 273 lb-ft (370 Nm).
That power is channeled to all four wheels by a six-speed manual transmission; there are no flappy paddles here, even as an option. The AWD system comes with a feature most commonly seen in Gran Turismo—with the twist of a dial, you can change the torque split between the front and rear axles from 60:40 to 50:50 or 30:70, depending on your mood. Torque-sensing limited slip differentials for both front and rear will also be available.
Toyota will offer the GR Corolla in two trims, a cheaper Core Edition and a more expensive Circuit Edition, the latter of which includes the forged roof, a suede and synthetic leather interior, and the limited slip diffs, among other tweaks. Both versions will use Toyota’s new infotainment system, which is a big improvement over the Entune system the company has been using.
We don’t know exact pricing yet, but it seems reasonable to expect the GR Corolla Core to start at around $32,000 (similar to the Hyundai Veloster N), with loaded GR Corolla Circuit Editions getting close to $40,000, like the Honda Civic Type-R and Volkswagen Golf R.