Car Review: 2023 Toyota GR Corolla is a hard-core hot hatch

The Toyota Corolla is a fine compact car but was never really an enthusiast choice, until now. The new GR Corolla is here to serve notice to other compact hot hatches in the market.

A hot hatch needs to bring power to the party. The GR Corolla packs a three-cylinder turbo engine and pumps out 300hp! It moves this hatch quickly with a unique growl at full throttle. The manual transmission is smooth and allows quick shifts. Many hot hatches make do with FWD. The GR Corolla has AWD that you can adjust for up to 70% of the power to the rear wheels. The handling limits are very high and it excels on back roads.



While the car is extremely sporty, it’s a good daily driver.

The GR Corolla’s looks match its performance. It has a cool, cartoonish vibe with a bulging hood and wide fender flares that barely contain the bigger wheels and wide low-profile tires. Blacked-out trim, a large rear wing and three exhaust pipes stick out from the back of this car. The roof is made of carbon fiber to reduce its weight. There are plenty of vents and scoops to signal that it’s special.

Toyota GR Corolla
Toyota turns up the heat in the hot hatch market with 300hp AWD GR Corolla. (WTOP / Mike Parris)

The interior sports hip-hugging seats that keep you in place on the corners. However, the pricey GR Corolla has the same interior as other Corolla models. Expect harder plastics and a sea of gray. Those front seats proved comfortable, but snug for larger-built people. The rear seat space is eaten up by the front seats, so there’s less legroom than other Corolla models.

Cost: $42,900; as tested $44,420

MPG: 21 mpg city and 28 mpg highway; I managed 22.8 mpg in 162 miles with premium fuel.

Safety: Toyota Safety Sense 3.0; pre-collision system with pedestrian detection; full-speed range dynamic radar cruise control; lane departure alert with steering assist; lane tracking assist; blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert

Options: $425 heavy metal; $1,095 delivery and handling fee

Things to know: The 2023 Toyota GR Corolla is a hard-core hot hatch with 300hp AWD and more fun than you could imagine at this price level.

Pros:

  • Sports car performance that is ready for a track
  • Three cylinder engine good for 300hp
  • Looks match the performance

Cons:

  • Pricey and hard to find with limited numbers being made
  • A bit more noise in the cabin than some other compacts
  • Rear doors do not open very wide

Like WTOP on Facebook and follow WTOP on Twitter and Instagram to engage in conversation about this article and others.

Get breaking news and daily headlines delivered to your email inbox by signing up here.

© 2023 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up