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As an all-wheel drive hatchback, the GR Corolla is undoubtedly capable of handling snowy roads. But how does Toyota’s hot hatch handle a legitimate rally challenge? The pro drivers at Team O’Neill Rally chucked the new GR Corolla around the New England winter landscape to find out.

GR Corolla suspension gets positive reviews from pro rally driver

Wyatt Knox, a professional rally instructor with Team O’Neil Rally School, takes the GR Corolla for a jaunt through the snowy New Hampshire woods. His first impressions are positive, mentioning that the handling balance is surprisingly good for a pavement-based road car.

The car is stock, save for the high-end snow tires needed for the snowy off-road conditions. First up is a slalom test that immediately shows the composure of the GR Corolla.

When flicking through the lefts and rights, Wyatt remarks that the on-power handling is balanced and predictable. However, the anti-lock brakes cause immense understeer when attempting to brake and corner simultaneously. That’s to be expected in a modern road car, though it does stifle the spicy ‘Yota’s rally-bred performance.

However, the GR Corolla’s stock suspension does well to inspire confidence in the hands of the pros. With all of the driver assists switched off, Knox hurls the Toyota hatchback through a series of switchbacks with remarkable precision. All the while, he remarks that the car is both predictable and engaging.

And while the rally school driver does mention that it could have a bit more ride height and softer damping, the all-wheel drive hatch is an impressive bit of kit on a rally stage.

In all, the GR Corolla manages a respectable time on an icy rally course. Even the premium Nokian snow tires weren’t enough to inspire confidence on such a treacherous surface. However, those difficult conditions did well to highlight the Corolla’s overall controllability.

Punchy Power lets the GR Corolla rally with ease

A dark gray Toyota GR Corolla shines on a test track.
GR Corolla | Toyota

Without a doubt, 1.5-liter three-cylinder turbocharged engine in the GR Corolla is a revelation on a rally course. Shoving out 300 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque, it’s both lightweight and punchy. Both of these attributes contribute to the overall performance of Toyota’s hot hatch.

The addition of all-wheel drive with selectable drive modes means the Corolla can do it all. From on-track antics to on-road comfort and apparently, snow-covered rally stages. As a direct competitor to the Golf R, the GR Corolla has come out swinging.

The Toyota hot hatch is likely a future classic

With such big potential, it’s likely that many GR Corolla models won’t remain in their stock form for long. We suspect that custom suspension and exhaust modifications will fast be coming down the pike for the plucky hatchback.

Of course, the flip side of that is that bone-stock models will easily be classics in the future. Those with reasonable mileage will likely hold their value rather well. Thanks to its unique three-cylinder turbo setup and rally-bred handling platform, enthusiasts that love this car today will likely love it well into the future.

Related GR Corolla: Does the Toyota GR Model Have What it Takes to Dethrone the Volkswagen Golf R?

GR Corolla: Does the Toyota GR Model Have What it Takes to Dethrone the Volkswagen Golf R?