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Have you ever experienced teenage angst? It’s the feeling of being rejected, overwhelmed, or anxious mixed with hormonal rage. OK, so maybe you haven’t experienced it in a while, or perhaps you’re raising a teenager that’s going through random mood swings, and you’re forced to deal with them. I’m unsure what that entails because I don’t have kids. But I do have a 2023 Toyota GR Corolla for the week, and so far, the hatchback is giving me angsty teenager vibes.

The 2023 Toyota GR Corolla hatchback is high-strung

The rear view of the 2023 Toyota GR Corolla
2023 Toyota GR Corolla | Joe Santos, MotorBiscuit

My first impression of how the 2023 Toyota GR Corolla drives is that it’s high-strung. Push the “GR” branded start button, and the engine fires up with a hearty, booming exhaust note. The 12.3-inch virtual display starts up and greets you with some race-inspired graphics. The experience is cut out for those who like to drink Mountain Dew at nighttime while doing video game speed runs. Or whatever kids do nowadays.

Setting out in the Toyota GR Corolla hatchback feels pretty normal at first. It is a Corolla, after all. When driven at lower speeds, the GR Corolla feels calm and easy to maneuver. The steering effort is light, as is the clutch pedal, and the visibility out of all four corners is excellent. Piloting the car under 3,000 rpm is a sedate experience – but when you hammer the throttle, the lethargic teenager awakens.

Once the turbocharger spools up, the small 1.6-liter three-cylinder engine really goes to work. This tiny engine puts out 300 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque, which builds quickly as the digital tachometer sweeps up to the redline. Now, this is the kind of mood swing you can look forward to.

Shifting the six-speed manual transmission feels notchy and direct. The throws could be a little shorter, but I won’t complain much about that. Especially since the power goes out to all four wheels, a rarity in this car class.

That said, it’s easy to get the GR Corolla up to highway speeds in a flash. The gears are nicely spaced to accommodate the power, and 60 mph (and above) comes quicker than you can say, “You just don’t understand me, Mom!”

The GR Corolla hugs curves like a needy child

2023 Toyota GR Corolla hatchback's engine
2023 Toyota GR Corolla | Joe Santos, MotorBiscuit

Yes, the Toyota GR Corolla is very quick in a straight line, but that’s not all it’s good for. And while its engine and exhaust wail out like a forlorn teenager, its suspension complements the drama quite well.

The GR Corolla rides on a MacPherson-type suspension up front, a double-wishbone setup in the rear, and sticky 18-inch tires to connect it to the ground. When throwing into some steep turns to get on and off the freeway, I noticed that the GR Corolla hugs the corners like a needy child hugs its mother.

One of the most interesting features is the mode select dial, which allows you to adjust the power delivery between the front and rear wheels. The default setting is a 60:40 split for an all-wheel drive setup, but the power can be adjusted to a 30:70 split in case you want to get drifty with it.

If only teenagers had a switch to change their moods.

Is this Toyota hatchback worth its hefty price tag?

My test car for the week is priced at $39,659 (including destination), which is well worth it if you can get it at the price. Dealerships have been marking these cars up to the $50,000 range, which is not worth it.

That would be like paying $200 a session for therapy for your teenage kid, only to have them act out the same as they did before. Case in point, the 2023 Toyota GR Corolla may be an angsty teenager, but its mood swings and rebellious driving nature are worth the effort you put into it.