Ever since the launch of Fast Fours and Rotaries magazine in 1988, Australian hot hatch fans have been waiting for a barn storming Corolla to reappear on our shores. We were offered Levin and Sprinter variants that were teasers and never delivered the performance levels that fans demanded.
We got the GR Yaris which satisfied some pundits, but now, the wait is over because Toyota has announced that the recently launched GR Corolla will come to Australia and arrive with 220kW of power delivered via a AWD system and manual six speed box.
Scheduled to arrive locally in the final quarter of 2022, GR Corolla will be the fourth GR sports-car model to be launched in Australia, joining the GR Supra, GR Yaris and the upcoming GR86.
GR Corolla’s performance credentials include a strengthened version of the homologation-special three-cylinder GR Yaris engine, as well as the GR-FOUR all-wheel-drive system, front and rear Torsen® limited-slip differentials and six-speed manual transmission with a short-stroke gear shift lever. A valve-equipped triple-exhaust muffler improves airflow, unleashing maximum output of 220kW from the intercooled turbo engine, a gain of 10 per cent.
Development by TOYOTA GAZOO Racing engineers kept faith with the performance brand’s mission to make ever-better cars, bred from extensive experience in motorsport.
GR Corolla prototypes included a race car powered by a hydrogen-fuelled internal combustion engine that competed in last year’s Super Taikyu endurance series in Japan with a “drive it until it breaks and fix it to win” approach.
Toyota Master Driver Morizo (aka global president Akio Toyoda) took stints behind the wheel. Prototypes were also assessed by champion Japanese circuit and rally drivers as well as in-house evaluators.
High-speed stability and cornering performance
Based on the high stability provided by the long-wheelbase GA-C platform, the GR Corolla hatch commands a high level of cornering performance, starting with wider fenders front and rear than a standard Corolla hatchback. Cooling and aerodynamics also benefit from a front-bumper air intake, along with air outlets for the front fender and bonnet bulge.
The GR Corolla’s GR-FOUR system, which uses an electronic multi-plate clutch to provide variable front and rear driving force, has been upgraded for maximum control when pushing the car to its limits. Engineers have separated the system’s “4WD” mode (which controls driving force distribution) and “Drive” mode (which controls accelerator response, steering and other systems), enabling selection according to driver preference and the driving environment.
Pillow-ball bushings and enhanced springs, shock absorbers and wheel alignment further contribute to maximum cornering control.
Body rigidity has been strengthened to achieve driving performance that responds instantly to driver operation. In addition to the highly rigid frame made possible through production at the GR factory within Toyota’s Motomachi plant, braces have been added between the rear wheel wells, to the under-floor tunnel, and under the floor in front of the fuel tank to improve handling stability.
Opposed-calliper disc brakes provide stable braking and control, enabling confident and enjoyable driving, even on racing circuits.
The latest Toyota Safety Sense package assists in providing safety and security in daily driving while enhancing the driving pleasure of a sports car.
A hand-operated parking brake has been used to allow better vehicle control even when pushing the car to its limits, such as when drifting.
The instrument cluster incorporates a thin-film transistor meter. Inspired by race cars and reflecting insight from professional drivers, it is designed to be easily visible during sporty driving.
Completing the package, the GR Corolla hatch retains a five-passenger layout that ensures it is equally equipped for daily life as well as driving pleasure.
Corolla has a motorsport DNA
The GR Corolla sprang to life based on the strong desire of Mr Toyoda to “bring back a Corolla that captivates our customers”.
Since the birth of Corolla in 1966, the nameplate has continually evolved into a variety of body styles to meet the changing lifestyles of Toyota customers.
Toyota has successfully used motor racing to introduce Corolla to the masses, building a proud motorsport heritage that has underlined its durability and reliability.
In Australia, Corolla has a long and successful motorsport record, helping to forge the car’s reputation as durable, reliable and fun to drive. Class victories at the Bathurst 500 enduro in 1968 and 1969 effectively put Corolla on the motorsport map. It won a further eight consecutive class victories at Bathurst from 1985-92 and compiled a string of touring-car victories and success in rallying.
The 1989 Bathurst victory was scored by a young prodigy, Neal Bates – now team principal of the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Australia rally team. Bates won the 2008 Australian Rally Championship in a Corolla with co-driver Coral Taylor.
Toyota achieved its first World Rally Championship victory in 1973 in the Press-on-Regardless rally in the United States, followed in 1975 by a stunning victory in the 1,000 Lakes Rally in Finland.
With the GR Corolla joining the lineup, it is clear the Corolla series will continue to evolve.