It’s official: The powerful, stylish and agile hot hatch U.S. drivers are looking for is on its way, the first-ever 2023 GR Corolla. With the detail-obsessed TOYOTA GAZOO Racing team at the helm, and master driver Akio Toyoda, a.k.a. Morizo, signing off on approval, this all-new addition to Toyota’s growing lineup of sports cars brings the performance, handling and functionality that hot hatch fans love. GR Corolla will come in two grades, Core and Circuit Edition. The G16-E engine is paired with Toyota’s rally developed GR-Four All-Wheel-Drive (AWD) drivetrain. This system gives drivers a choice of 60-40, 50-50 or 30-70 power distribution to the front and rear wheels. GR Corolla will be offered exclusively in a manual transmission, staying true to its hands-on rally racing roots. Powered by the lightweight, compact-yet-powerful G16E-GTS turbo-charged, direct/port injected three-cylinder engine, GR Corolla delivers 300 hp and 273 lb.-ft. of torque. Engineered for snappy acceleration out of the corners, output hits peak torque at 3000-5500 rpm, with max horsepower coming at 6500 rpm. Its thrill-inducing power is piped through a unique triple exhaust that’s designed to reduce backpressure for maximum power delivery. Its broad hatch profile and low center of gravity are built on Toyota’s GA-C platform, with enhanced frame reinforcements developed specifically for GR Corolla at GR Factory at Toyota Motomachi plant. Functional exterior air vents and aerodynamic features further support steering stability.
To help meet the performance goals for the GR Corolla, Toyota has established a dedicated GR Factory at its production facility in Motomachi, Japan. It’s the birthplace of legends such as the Lexus LFA and Supra A80 and is now home to the first GR production line, where GR Corolla and GR Yaris are precision built. Instead of the traditional conveyor system, the body and assembly lines comprise several different cells connected by automatic guided vehicles (AGVs) rather than the conveyors featured in conventional car plants. This fully flexible method of working, with many manual assembly techniques, enables precise body and suspension alignment, with variations in vehicle dimensions and weight kept to a minimum. Toyota Gazoo Racing has brought together highly skilled technicians from throughout the company to work on the GR Corolla. This team not only assembles every GR Corolla but also contributes to the technical skills of workers at other Toyota facilities. It’s a team structure that’s part of the overall GR mission at Toyota, developing people, driving fans and making ever better cars. With all TOYOTA GAZOO Racing sports cars firmly rooted in motorsports, it only makes sense that the GR Corolla’s drivetrain was born from the rigors of rally racing. At the heart of the new GR Corolla is the GR-FOUR All-Wheel-Drive system, Toyota’s first sports all-wheel-drive system in over 20 years. Developed in collaboration with the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team and honed by WRC drivers, it delivers exceptional levels of traction and control with engineering designed to optimize drive power to each wheel, while also being simple and lightweight.
To achieve control worthy of the GR badge, a highly rigid body was specially constructed for GR Corolla. Based off the GA-C platform, it produced handling performance that rewards the driver. Enhanced rigidity comes from significantly more weld points in the frame, particularly to strengthen joints. Further gains are made through extensive use of structural adhesive, increasing the joint rigidity between component parts. The front suspension is a MacPherson-type strut design that offers both light weight and firm handling, maximizing the tires’ grip potential. Made up of circuit-tuned coil springs, shock absorbers and stabilizer bars, the front suspension is designed to deliver all the engine’s power to the road and provide optimum cornering capability on all surfaces. The rear suspension uses a double-wishbone type multilink system that accommodates the AWD system’s goal of maximum agility and stability. Wide tread tires ensure high cornering performance while maintaining the excellent high speed stability of the GR Corolla’s 103.9-inch long wheelbase. It wears Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires 235/40R18 on the both grades and comes equipped with 18-in. gloss-black 15-spoke cast alloy wheels on the grades.
For GR Corolla, Toyota took the same turbocharged G16E-GTS powerplant used in the GR Yaris and boosted its output. This compact-yet-powerful three-cylinder engine has increased power for GR Corolla thanks to improved engine exhaust efficiency thanks to a 3-piece muffler with valve capped off with brushed stainless steel tips. This design reduces exhaust pressure and outside noise, which are essential to backpressure performance. The G16E also benefits from motorsport technologies that maximize performance, including multi-oil jet piston cooling, large-diameter exhaust valves and a part-machined intake port. Displacing 1,618 cubic centimeters, it produces a maximum power of 300 hp and 273 pound-feet of torque. Compact and lightweight, the DOHC 12-valve engine features a single-scroll ball-bearing turbo that’s matched to a 6-speed intelligent manual transmission (iMT) with rev-matching engineered to accommodate high torque levels. The turbocharger is integrated in the exhaust manifold, reducing weight, while control of wastegate bypass gases is used to improve the catalyst’s warm-up efficiency. Combustion is fed by Toyota’s D-4S direct and port fuel injection system, which operates at high pressure for maximum fuel dispersion and efficiency.
In 2007, Toyota expanded its car development activities with a decision to compete in the 24 Hours Nürburgring, the grueling endurance race held on the famous track winding through the German forest. However, as an unofficial Toyota activity, the team was called GAZOO Racing and was made up of employees, including Akio Toyoda driving under the alias of Morizo. As TOYOTA GAZOO Racing’s first wholly developed and manufactured model for the North American market, the GR Corolla carries this spirit forward. With a limited budget, the newly named team entered the race with two second-hand Altezzas. Despite adversity, both cars finished the challenging race, and a new era of Toyota motorsports and product development, one founded on a spirit of challenge aimed at instigating change, began. With professional drivers, experts and Morizo at the wheel, GR Corolla was tested repeatedly at some of Japan’s leading circuits, including Fuji Speedway, Suzuka and Tsukuba Circuit. In addition, the GR team carried out heavy duty dirt and snow driving with a Japanese Rally Championship driver. No road was left unturned in the process, so engineers and technicians could sharpen acceleration and control worthy of the GR name.
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