Will the Toyota GR Corolla Be the WRX STI Replacement We Want?

At least for now, Subaru is shelving the WRX STI. So, apart from modding the 2022 WRX like crazy, what can fans do to cope? With the Lancer Evo and Focus RS long gone, the Golf R is the closest alternative to an STI. At least, it’s the closest thing available until the Toyota GR Corolla finally arrives. But will it fill the STI-sized hole in Subie fans’ hearts?

The Toyota GR Corolla is coming to the US, but will it be as fast as the last Subaru WRX STI?

With how many GR Corolla teasers Toyota has posted by now, the hot hatch is all but officially confirmed. As of this writing, the Toyota USA website just calls it the ‘GR Hot Hatch.’ But as Toyota’s earlier Instagram post hints, yeah, it’s a spicy Corolla. And that begs the question: will it be as spicy, i.e., as fast as the outgoing WRX STI?

Well, it’s complicated. Firstly, Toyota hasn’t released official GR Corolla specs. But several confidential sources claim it will have the GR Yaris’s manual transmission, AWD system, and 268-hp turbocharged three-cylinder engine. That’s 37 less horsepower than the last WRX STI made. And it’s less than even the 2022 WRX makes.

In addition, the GR Corolla will likely be heavier than the GR Yaris. Hence its 0-60 mph time will likely be longer than the GR Yaris’s official 5.5-second time. And that puts it behind the 2021 WRX STI, which hits 60 mph in 5.3 seconds.

However, Top Gear’s long-term GR Yaris went 0-60 mph in roughly 4.6 seconds. Even with a weight penalty, the GR Corolla might beat the old STI in a short drag race. The Civic Type R did that in a Road & Track comparison and it doesn’t even have AWD.   

Will the Toyota GR Corolla be able to tackle urban potholes as well as it does rally stages?

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Speaking of the Type R, it’s arguably another potential WRX STI alternative. And speaking from personal experience, its FWD layout doesn’t hamper its handling prowess. However, it lacks a key WRX STI feature: rally heritage.

One of the great things about the Subaru WRX STI is its ability to tackle abuse from racing and commuting, R&T explains. You can slide it around on a slushy forest stage on the weekend, hose it down, and drive to the grocery store on Monday. And that’s been the case since the first-gen GC8 models.

Also, while the Golf R can theoretically keep up with an STI on snow or pavement, it’s “nowhere near as engaging to drive,” R&T says. It doesn’t have the stiff, planted feeling that separates the STI from a regular WRX, either. Nor does it have that STI exuberance—the big wing, flared fenders, gold wheels, etc.—that keeps fans coming back.

The Toyota GR Corolla, though, might have all that and more. For one, if it does have GR Yaris parts, then it’s effectively based on a genuine rally homologation special. Secondly, R&T called driving the GR Yaris “a life-changing experience.” So, again, if the Corolla is built like the Yaris, expect fun handling.

Furthermore, the GR Corolla has something the WRX STI lost a while back: a hatch. Subaru last sold a WRX STI hatchback here in 2014 and fans often miss the extra practicality. Admittedly, the 2022 Corolla Hatchback doesn’t have quite as much cargo space as the Impreza Hatchback. But then, the Impreza isn’t a WRX, is it?

We’ll have the answers soon (hopefully)

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Ultimately, this is all conjecture until the Toyota GR Corolla actually arrives. Unfortunately, as of this writing, there’s no official release date.

However, R&T notes that the sneak peeks at the hot hatch in a recent GR86 ad show quite a lot of skin. This suggests that the GR Corolla’s official unveiling likely isn’t terribly far off. And that gives saddened potential WRX STI shoppers a chance to switch gears and save up.

Based on what the GR Yaris offers, though, the wait might just be worth it.

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