The Toyota Corolla is a popular vehicle, available as a sedan and hatchback. It’s so popular that Toyota has rebadged it not once but twice. First was the Corolla Cross, a small SUV garnering high sales and critical praise, and now the forthcoming 2023 Toyota GR Corolla.
What makes the 2022 Toyota Corolla special
Toyota has sold millions of Corollas since it debuted the model in 1966. People enjoy them because they are affordable and reliable. Toyota also offers multiple variants of the Corolla designed to appeal to different segments. You can go with the standard sedan, or if you want a hybrid or a hatchback, Toyota offers those kinds of Corollas too.
The Toyota Corolla hatchback is an excellent option for those looking for a roomier version of the Corolla sedan they love. With a starting MSRP of $20,915, the hatchback variant comes with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that generates 169 hp and 151 lb-ft of torque. It also has two transmission options: a CVT automatic or a six-speed manual. The former provides impressive fuel efficiency with 32 mpg in the city and 41 mpg on the highway. However, it drops to 28 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway with the manual.
For those who’d prefer more space in their Corolla sedan, the hatchback offers 17.8 cubic feet of cargo room, 4.7 more feet than the sedan. The hatchback also comes with a standard 8.0-inch touchscreen compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and Toyota Safety Sense, an impressive suite of standard advanced safety features. And just like the sedan, the hatchback earned a Top Safety Pick+ distinction from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and a perfect five-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
What’s with this new Corolla hatchback Toyota is offering?
Despite the popularity of the Corolla hatchback variant, Toyota plans to release a new hatchback offering. Dubbed the GR Corolla, this new edition is what’s known as a hot hatch. GR stands for “Gazoo Racing,” the automaker’s motorsports brand name. The GR Corolla is a performance-oriented hatchback incorporating motorsports technology into its reliable daily driver.
The upgrades start with the powertrain. Rather than the 2.0-liter four-cylinder of the 2022 hatchback, Toyota GR Corolla drivers get a 1.6-liter turbocharged three-cylinder. Paired with the six-speed manual as the only option, this powertrain can generate 300 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque, far more than the standard hatchback. It also comes with a GR-Four AWD that allows buyers to choose the power distribution ratio between the front and rear wheels.
The GR Corolla also sports a more robust body than the standard hatchback, race-track-worthy tires, and a lightweight roof. Functional air vents rest in the bumper and the GR Corolla’s bulged hood. And the interior styling has a distinctively race-car feel and GR badges on the headrests. To keep drivers safe, Toyota’s Safety Sense is also standard. With all these improvements, doubtless, the GR Corolla will cost more than $21,000. But how much more has yet to be announced.
Who are the GR Corolla’s competitors?
Toyota is not the only automaker to bring performance-oriented features to staid brand name models. Subaru, Hyundai, Honda, and Volkswagen have all gotten into the mix over the past couple of years, with mixed results. But the GR Corolla will face its stiffest competition from outside its Corolla family.
For example, the Honda Civic Type R has been making waves for a couple of years, given its powerful 2.0-liter turbo-four cylinder with 306 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque, performance-oriented suspension, and athletic handling. As per Car and Driver, the 2020 version’s MSRP is $36,995, which may indicate the GR Corolla’s probable pricing. But prospective buyers may not weigh price as heavily as performance.
Starting at $32,500, the Hyundai Veloster N also provides impressive power with a 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4 engine dishing out 275 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque, as well as outstanding performance thanks to its electronically-adjusted dampers, limited-slip differential, 19-inch wheels, and larger brakes, among other upgrades.
The Subaru WRX and Volkswagen Golf GTI feature similarly impressive engine- and performance-oriented upgrades. Along with the Veloster N and Civic Type, both have already established a foothold in the market. Though the appetite for rebadged Corolla variants is strong, the GR Corolla’s ultimate success in the hot hatchback market remains to be seen.