Toyota Is Bringing a Corolla Hot Hatch to the US

Toyota seems to be slowly regaining its performance mojo. While the Avalon TRD isn’t terribly sporty, the Camry TRD can have some racetrack fun. Unfortunately, US enthusiasts can’t get their hands on the GR Yaris. Like the Celica GT4 before it, the GR Yaris is a true AWD homologation-special hot hatch. But because it’s so different from the US-market Yaris, Toyota couldn’t bring it here. Still, with the rise of the Civic Type R and Veloster N, Toyota wasn’t going to ignore the US hot hatch segment completely. So instead of the GR Yaris, we’re getting a Toyota GR Corolla hot hatch.

The Toyota GR Corolla hot hatch details

2020 Toyota Corolla XSE Hatchback
2020 Toyota Corolla XSE Hatchback | Toyota

The first hints of a Toyota Corolla hot hatch came from Australia, Road & Track reports, where Toyota trademarked several model names. One of these was ‘Corolla GR.’ That ‘GR’ stands for ‘Gazoo Racing’, Toyota’s racing division that helped develop the new Supra. At the time, it was unclear if such a car would be a sedan or hatchback. Now, though, Car and Driver reports the GR Corolla will indeed be a hot hatch.

2021 Toyota GR Yaris
2021 Toyota GR Yaris | Toyota

The Toyota GR Corolla will use the same 1.8-liter turbocharged three-cylinder as the GR Yaris, albeit detuned, The Drive reports. The GR Yaris puts out 268 hp and 273 lb-ft, while the Corolla would put out 257 hp and 266 lb-ft. That’s the current output of the European-spec GR Yaris. And, considering the most-powerful US Corolla only puts out 168 hp and 151 lb-ft, it’s a significant improvement.

Although Toyota has started offering the larger Camry and Avalon with AWD, the GR Corolla will likely be front-wheel-drive, Car and Driver reports. The GR Yaris, Autoblog reports, also offers optional front and rear limited-slip differentials. Unfortunately, there’s no word if the GR Corolla will receive at one.

However, the Toyota GR Corolla hot hatch will at least offer some performance upgrades. Count on a stiffer sports suspension, larger brakes, and high-performance tires. Also, a 6-speed manual: The Drive points out that’s the only transmission paired with the 1.8-liter engine.

Pricing and availability

2019 Toyota Corolla XSE Hatchback
2019 Toyota Corolla XSE Hatchback | Toyota

Initially, Car and Driver reports the Toyota GR Corolla hot hatch would arrive in the US sometime in 2022. However, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic means the release date may be pushed back.

At the moment, the most-expensive Corolla hatchback, the XSE, starts at $23,240. Car and Driver predicts the GR version would likely cost around $30,000. For comparison, in Japan, the GR Yaris starts at around $36,000. Although, Autoblog points out that the GR Yaris also features an aluminum hood, doors, and trunk lid, as well as a carbon-fiber roof.

The Toyota Corolla hot hatch vs. the competition

2020 Honda Civic Type R
2020 Honda Civic Type R | Honda

At that price, the Toyota GR Corolla hot hatch would be roughly $7000 cheaper than the Honda Civic Type R. Like the Corolla, the CTR is FWD. However, it also has about 50 more horsepower, and styling-wise is a bit more hard-core. Instead, the GR Corolla’s closest rivals will likely be the Hyundai Veloster N and Volkswagen GTI.

2019 Hyundai Veloster N
2019 Hyundai Veloster N | Hyundai

Although it uses a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, the Veloster N is roughly as powerful as the GR Corolla. It puts out 250 hp and 260 lb-ft, with the optional performance package adding 15 more hp. The two hot hatches even weigh roughly the same: the XSE Corolla weighs 3060 lbs, and the Veloster N 3077 lbs, according to Car and Driver. And while the base Veloster N starts at $27.6k, adding the performance package bumps that up to $29,700.

2020 Volkswagen GTI Autobahn Edition
2020 Volkswagen GTI Autobahn Edition | Volkswagen

With a $28,595 starting price, the Volkswagen GTI is also fairly close in price. However, the standard car’s 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder only puts out 228 hp and 258 lb-ft. But, the GTI will arguably have a slightly up-market interior compared to the Corolla.

It’s safe to say, though, that the Toyota GR Corolla hot hatch can’t get here soon enough.

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