Kurt Verlin
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Toyota GR Corolla is the Hot Hatch We All Want

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This GR Yaris is not a Toyota GR Corolla, but it may share an engine with one
Photo: Toyota Europe

In early 2019, we heard rumors that Toyota wanted to make a hot hatch variant of the Corolla, the bestselling nameplate in the history of automobiles. Now those rumors have grown into more than just doubtful speculation, and though Toyota has yet to make an official announcement, there’s good reason to believe the Japanese automaker will launch a GR Corolla for either the 2022 or 2023 model year.

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Toyota already trademarked the GR Corolla name in 2020, and according to British magazine Autocar, insiders say the car will “inevitably” be offered alongside the popular GR Yaris, another hot hatch that has been met with critical acclaim among European car journalists. But unlike the Yaris, the GR Corolla will be offered in the United States.

Notably, the Toyota GR Corolla would not be electrified. It’s expected to use the same turbocharged 1.3-liter three-cylinder used by the Yaris, tuned to produce at least 261 horsepower. Autocar says that a limited-slip differential on both axles and a full-time AWD system are also on the menu, though the specific features Toyota decides to use will depend on the car’s intended market position.

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Will the GR Corolla compete with the Volkswagen Golf GTI or the Golf R? The Hyundai Veloster N or the Honda Civic Type R? Or, if Toyota went the route of fewer gizmos but more affordable pricing, the Ford Focus ST. What’s certain is that there’s plenty of competition for the GR Corolla.

No matter what the Japanese manufacturer chooses in the end, it’s an exciting development and we love that Toyota has been expanding its sports car lineup via its Gazoo Racing division. If you’d asked us 10 years ago which automaker would continue to make non-electrified hot hatches at a time when the auto industry was going full-steam-ahead on electric crossovers and SUVs, we certainly wouldn’t have guessed Toyota. But here we are.