- The most potent Corolla the world has ever seen is here.
- It's packing 300 horsepower, all-wheel drive, and a six-speed manual in a punchy little package.
- Here's how it stacks up against the competition.
The 2023 Toyota GR Corolla is the hottest, most hardcore Corolla we've ever seen, and it's stepping into one of our favorite segments: the hot hatch. With the last-generation Honda Civic Type R (2017-2021) out of production, the hot hatch crown is currently up for grabs. We know Honda has that car's successor waiting in the wings, but in the meantime, the GR Corolla has plenty of competition in the form of the 2022 Volkswagen Golf R and 2022 Hyundai Veloster N. Here's how the GR Corolla stacks up against these highly regarded rivals on paper.
While it might find itself in some very capable company, the new GR Corolla is packing plenty of heat. Its turbocharged 1.6-liter three-cylinder engine produces 300 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque. It also comes with an all-wheel-drive system that allows you to divvy up the front/rear torque split in three different ratios. You can send 40%, 50% or 70% of the inline-three's grunt to the rear wheels. It also comes with a six-speed manual transmission with rev-matching capability (there is no automatic transmission option), a beefy body kit and huge slotted brakes up front.
The GR Corolla's impressive specs match up closely with the new-for-2022 Volkswagen Golf R. The hottest Golf ever made sends 315 horsepower and up to 295 lb-ft of torque to all four wheels. However, the Golf R will only shuffle up to 50% of the engine's maximum torque to the rear. The Golf R has a drift mode, but the Corolla's manual handbrake means a drift is just a quick yank away, whereas the Golf R has to do all the drifting by manipulating the rear differential. Another key difference is that the Golf R is offered with either a manual or a quick-shifting dual-clutch automatic, making it the friendlier choice for the daily slog through traffic-laden city streets.
Hyundai's Veloster N burst onto the scene with a potent turbocharged four-cylinder, a raucous exhaust, and a funky three-door layout. It's still one of the most entertaining hatchbacks out there, but it's down on power compared to the Golf and Corolla. Its boosted inline-four makes 275 horsepower and 260 lb-ft, all of which flows to the front wheels. Adaptive suspension dampers are standard, and Hyundai's N mode allows you to adjust throttle response, steering weight, ride quality and even how aggressive the limited-slip front differential is to suit your liking. Like the Golf R, the Veloster N also comes with either a manual or dual-clutch automatic, and its compact dimensions make it easy to move through traffic and park in tight spots.
Perhaps the most appealing part of the Veloster N is its starting price. At $33,545, it's significantly more affordable than the Golf R, which starts at $45,085. As for the GR Corolla, Toyota hasn't yet set an MSRP, but we think it'll be higher than the budget-friendly Veloster N and luxurious, feature-packed Golf R.
So what about the upcoming Civic Type R? Well, there are a few question marks. We think that it will make more than the 306 horsepower offered by the old car, and it very well could stick to its predecessor's front-wheel-drive setup. It should also retain the trick front differential that allowed the previous model to handle so well, along with high-performance Brembo brakes. Prices for the new Type R will likely start around the $40,000 mark.
The GR Corolla has the goods to put up a strong fight in the hot hatch segment. Check back later this year, when we'll put it to the test against the VW Golf R, Veloster N and (hopefully) the next-generation Civic Type R.