By on December 28, 2018

Ten years ago, Toyota fielded a solid lineup of passenger vehicles that were about as exciting as lukewarm tap water. However, the company has since embarked on a quest to change its trajectory and spice things up. Phase one included revision to the firm’s design language. Phase two involved tapping into the brand’s performance heritage and utilizing Gazoo Racing to help develop performance variants of existing models in Japan.

With models like the Supra making a return and other re-imaginings of performance icons in the works, things are now clipping along at full steam over at Toyota. Unfortunately, not all of its upcoming offerings make sense. While the TRD versions of the Camry and Avalon do more to bolster dynamics than sport-inspired appearance packages offered by other manufacturers, next month’s debut of the TRD Prius is utterly bewildering. These aren’t the first models that come to mind when one imagines Toyota injecting more pep and attitude into the brand. 

Rumors of a menacing, GR-badged Corolla have been swelling for months, with claims of a hybrid system pushing 250 horsepower providing the power — more than enough to bloody the nose of several existing hot hatches. While chief engineer Tetsuya Tada hasn’t outright said such a vehicle is in the works, he’s been repeatedly pressed about the possibility by automotive outlets.

At this point, Tada-san has basically all but confirmed Toyota will build a faster Corolla, though he usually caps off the convo by denying the existence of any official plans. In crafting the company’s sporting future, Toyota now has to decide which performance model to build next. According to CarSales, Hyundai’s Veloster/i30 N may help push the Corolla to the top of the list.

“It’s not just Hyundai. Other car brands are doing this too, so we are researching this and we have to create the [right] brand strategy,” Tada told the outlet.

Aussie dealers have clamored for more GR models ever since Gazoo began enhancing road-going models, but the Corolla seems to be the one they want the most. According to Tada, this hasn’t simplified the issue. “We have lots of requests from different countries, so it’s really, really challenging to decide on the order [of GR models],” he explained.

It sounds to us like a faster Corolla is already in the works, and that Toyota just hasn’t decided on the amount of resources to allocate to it. If it were up to us, we would selfishly recommend as much manpower as possible. That’s not just because we want to see a GR Corolla, we also don’t want to wait. Presumably, whatever Toyota builds will first launch in Japan — leaving North America to sit and wonder while the brand decides whether or not to hand it over as a U.S.-spec model wearing the TRD badge.

Here’s hoping.

[Image: Toyota]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

51 Comments on “Toyota Mulls Corolla As the Next Performance Model in GR Lineup...”


  • avatar
    JimC2

    (cough) manual transmission (cough) I know it’s nahgonnahappen (cough)

  • avatar
    salmonmigration

    Toyota Management: “We need to cut engineering dollars but still make our vehicles exciting to consumers.”

    Bean counters: “We can authorize this plastic spoiler and sticker package.”

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    So there’s almost no market for sedans, but there’s a market for sport(y) variants of sedans?

    Color me confused.

    • 0 avatar
      scott25

      Cars in general mostly sell to “enthusiasts”/people who wouldn’t be caught dead in a crossover/cheapskates nowadays. 2 of those audiences see benefit in attainable halo models/variants.

    • 0 avatar
      Superdessucke

      I was confused too when I offered my local Honda dealer invoice price and asked for their best lease terms on one of the two new Civic Type-Rs and they quoted me around $900 a month. I was expecting a quote in the mid to high $200s given that these are manual transmission hatchbacks that shouldn’t sell.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      Yes. I think it is the last of the sedan market left that will have any sort of margin. There are still people that enjoy driving. The market that purchased 325i’s back in the 80’s. It’s a good place to be if you can crack the nut…they tend to have money. But if it is a cynical effort, they will turn on you rapidly. Most current entrants don’t get it right or bring enough brand baggage (Alfa) to scare people off.

      • 0 avatar
        Superdessucke

        That describes the Civic Si to a T. Essentially a Civic Sport Touring with LSD, a CR-V turbocharger, and some badges.

        I wonder how many of these enthusiasts Honda is pissing off right now. You try to buy a Civic Type-R and the dealer attempts to gouge your eyes out. And then if you don’t bite, they try to shift you into that half-assed thing. Toyota has a really nice opportunity here.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    This makes sense – if you are having problems selling cheaper cars, make higher-margin, performance models.

    (And, no, I am not being sarcastic.)

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    A 250HP Corolla with AWD and a stick, and a sticker price thousands lower than a WRX, I’m interested.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Based on what I read about Prius’ coming AWD, the system is simple electric motors which spin up for help with traction. I would like and expect something similar with Corolla, I doubt they are going to make a serious enough investment in it to rival something niche like WRX.

      • 0 avatar
        Matt Posky

        Having spent some time in that very Prius last month, I’m inclined to agree. Toyota’s “AWD-e” is a good solution for snowbound economy lovers but it does not add any real performance beyond getting up an icy hill or keeping the car from understeering you into a snowdrift at moderate speeds. It’s a great system but it’s clearly not intended to help Toyota compete with something like the WRX.

        That said, I’m still eager to see a juiced-up Corolla with or without the AWD-e system in play.

        • 0 avatar
          JimC2

          AWD-e might help with the first hundred feet of a drag race too- basically across the intersection and about another fifty feet past it. However, I’m sure who one would want to challenge in such an unlikely contest.

      • 0 avatar
        jalop1991

        “Based on what I read about Prius’ coming AWD, the system is simple electric motors which spin up for help with traction.”

        Based on what I’ve been reading for years about the Acura RLX and NSX, this not at all a bad way to approach this.

        Don’t fall into the trap of assuming that if the Prius uses a variant of all this, then they all suck. That’s like saying since the basic Prius is FWD, then by definition the Civic Type R must also suck.

  • avatar
    scott25

    I’ll keep screaming for them to revive the Corolla Levin name until someone hears me. A name that literally means “lightning” on a hybrid, with 30 years of history. Even SR5 has more history here than “TRD”.

    LEVIN! LEVIN! LEVIN!

  • avatar
    thejohnnycanuck

    Cool. The new hatch is a good looking car and it’s been a long, long time since we had anything even closely resembling a hot Corolla.

    Not that sticking an S on the back of a frumpy sedan wasn’t enough to satisfy the most ardent performance enthusiasts.

  • avatar

    I would be jumping up and down with joy if GM could produce a car 90% as good as the Corolla.

  • avatar
    Mike-NB2

    I’m 52 and can remember when Toyota was known for fun and performance. But I can say, channeling my inner Tony Soprano, that Toyota is now dead to me. I am, in all honesty, afraid of most Toyotas. Toyota has become the car for people who need reliable transportation to drive slow in the left lane. Do they even have signal lights?

    Toyota – stick with your loyal customer base of elderly people who have no interest in anything automotive. It’s a growing market.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Well hopefully they do it well. I won’t complain about manufacturers building cars like this. Hopefully it is more than skin deep. We are overdue for a modern B-1 SE-R. Toyota certainly has the engineering to do it. Hopefully they have the will.

  • avatar

    Toyota mulls while GM culls.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      But Performance cars are probably the one area you would have to say GM is miles ahead. I mean the MK IV Supra and MR2 were 20 years ago. Even today the MKV Supra is no different than GM saying “We can’t do little cars…just stick a geo/chevy/Pontiac badge on a corolla and call it a day. I mean unless we are talking 6 figure figure limited run supercars what have they done over the past 2 decades. I can get a Corvette now for likely what the BMWOYOTA will run that is world class. Im no GM fan, but in this case, GM Builds while Toyota mulls and/or applies stickers and body kits.

      • 0 avatar
        jalop1991

        to be fair, Toyota engineered the fixed roof.

        TMW. I like it.

      • 0 avatar

        With Barra in charge everyone is on edge. She just axed GM’s two best sedans the CT6 and the Volt. The stock market has reacted negatively to her recent decisions. Last week she took the Camaro’s top engineer away from Chevrolet and reassigned him to produce electric vehicles. Even the current Corvette is being delayed amid some development chaos.

        Mary Barra makes hunches not decisions. She has little automobile knowledge herself so she follows the latest trends to guide her. She is probably unaware of the Cadillac performance renaissance of the last decade. Actually, she maybe a little too pragmatic for her own good, and this explains why her rein has not produced a single truly innovative car. However, she is enthusiastic about an Electric and Autonomous car future for GM that will probably never transpire. Again, she is speculating on the future based on short term analyst, not disciplined strategic thinking.

        Right now due to this shortsighted leadership GM is too risky to invest in. Apparently, investors agree with this analyst since GM stock is in a downfall.

        • 0 avatar
          Art Vandelay

          The Volt and CT6 don’t sell. No matter how good they may be (I disagree), it doesn’t matter if you have to sell em’ at a loss.

          And I’m not sure the “performance Renaissance” at Cadillac has been a net positive for them. BMW buyers buy BMWs…not Cadillacs.

  • avatar
    JoDa

    Sedans still sell to the immature jackasses so this only makes sense.
    Black interior with red stitching and the juveniles will overpay for it!

  • avatar
    RedRocket

    Well, since the Corolla has now been given an angry face that is as ugly as the rest of the Toyota lineup, perhaps some body cladding, spoilers, stripes, and fake vents are the next logical step.

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    Minor quibble but I think they should resurrected GT-S name. Or maybe even the AllTrac name if they do all wheel drive. Iconic and would definitely fit the product. But I’ll take anything I can get at this point in terms of a sporty small car!

  • avatar
    Oberkanone

    What a tease. I’m not over the GRMN Yaris. 212HP in such a light weight chassis. Seeing it rocket around Nurburgring is joy and pain knowing it is denied to North America.

    GR Corolla is just news of future disappointment.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • ToolGuy: Showing up at Bank of America to report financial theft is sweetly ironic. (cimarron and thelaine, i’m...
  • Corey Lewis: I had three meals on the trip. Monday evening at McDonald’s, Tuesday morning was the free hot...
  • FormerFF: In addition to the dealer fee, they also charge the buyer what the county charges them for registration....
  • JimZ: nice 2014 Cherokee.
  • teddyc73: Ugly rear end.

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Timothy Cain, Canada
  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Mark Baruth, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States