Is this the new Toyota Corolla GR hot hatch?

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Words: Matthew Hansen
3 May 2021

While Toyota continues to ‘keep mum’ over the prospects of a hot hatch Gazoo Racing ‘GR’ variant of the Corolla, speculation continues to churn from all corners of the globe.

Over the weekend, new images of the GR Corolla were published in Japanese outlet BestCar. The renders purport to be the final iteration of how it will look once in production. While BestCar is a relative reputable outlet, it’s worth taking that thought with a grain of salt.

Still, the GR-ified Corolla looks superb in the renders. It adopts much of the GR Yaris’ styling traits, including a beefed up and lowered widebody stance, additional vents all round, a more comprehensive diffuser, and a small hood scoop. One image curiously shows an even more agro-looking GRMN version. 

The imagery came with a selection of claims. The Japanese report states the car will have a similar format under the skin to the GR Yaris, adopting all-wheel drive drivetrain. Weight is said to be 1360kg, and a six-speed manual is supposedly on the cards along with a bevy of clever differential tech.

It’s not clear whether the model is rumoured to get a souped up version of the Yaris’ three-pot or its existing four-cylinder, but BestCar suggests its powertrain will produce around 300hp, or 223kW. This places the Corolla in the same ballpark as the Honda Civic Type R, Volkswagen Golf R, and Mercedes-AMG A 35.

I mention the A 35 specifically because, according to the report, the model will be priced to go toe-to-toe with the German hot hatch. From a Kiwi standpoint, that means the Corolla could hit our shores for around $80,000 — given the A 35 is priced from $85,800. But, it’s very early days.

These rumours follow a report from CarSensor earlier that came out earlier in the week. The report indicated that the model will use the Yaris’ turbocharged triple, ramping up power from 200kW to 221kW — the story seemingly corroborating the BestCar claims.

The other report also made similar claims around drivetrain and equipment, but it differs sharply from BestCar’s claims when referencing price. Instead it suggests that the GR Corolla will actually be priced lower than the GR Yaris in Japan — a curious claim.

Interest in a fettled GR Corolla is likely to be high, given the success of the GR Yaris around the world. The shared 2020 NZ Autocar Magazine Car of the Year award winner is a local sell-out, with long waiting lists for the nameplate’s second batch of arrivals. Over 1000 GR Yaris’ have been sold over the ditch, too, thanks in part to a unique discount scheme.

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