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Here's Why the Toyota GR Corolla Could Get an Automatic Transmission

If the Yaris can have it, why can't the Corolla?

2024 GR Corolla front 3/4 with text overlay
  • The Toyota GR Yaris recently got a major face-lift and a new automatic transmission.
  • The GR Yaris is, effectively, the GR Corolla's baby brother.
  • They share an engine, and we think they might soon share a new gearbox too.

Toyota just rolled out a refreshed version of the GR Yaris at the Tokyo Auto Salon this week. What's the GR Yaris? Think of it as the GR Corolla's Europe-only little brother. It's got the same engine (albeit with less power), the same trick all-wheel-drive system and the same manual transmission. Or at least, it used to. Among the slew of updates to the engine, chassis and interior, there is now the option for an automatic gearbox.

That got us thinking. If the GR Yaris — which shares much of its drivetrain and layout with the GR Corolla Toyota sells here in the U.S. — can get the option for an automatic, why can't the GR Corolla? It wouldn't be perfectly straightforward, but it certainly isn't out of the realm of possibility. The automatic transmission Toyota debuted in the GR Yaris this week features heat-resistant friction material in the clutch packs and eight speeds with closer ratios so you can bang off shifts that much more quickly. It's also paired with a Torsen limited-slip differential for better traction out of corners.

2024 GR Corolla interior

The current GR Corolla is manual only, but that might change.

Putting an automatic in the GR Corolla would also likely make it quicker off the line than the current manual-only model and give it an edge over the Honda Civic Type R. The Type R will likely never be offered with an automatic — not only is that counter to the Type R's ethos, Honda also doesn't make a quick-shifting automatic that's suitable for the Type R. Toyota put a lot of effort into the automatic in the Yaris, and adding it to the Corolla would likely be an easy way to attract customers who want a quick, fun, easy-to-drive-everyday hatchback but lack the desire to row their own gears. In traffic-laden cities like Los Angeles, it makes perfect sense and would likely only boost the hot Corolla's appeal.

Edmunds says

It remains to be seen if Toyota will add an automatic to the GR Corolla, but we think it would sell like ice cream on a toasty summer's day.