The Right Spec: 2023 Toyota GR Corolla

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy

Say what? A generation of drivers generally knows the Corolla as a beige sedan acting as a rolling roadblock in afternoon traffic. But as part of a continuing example of how having a true gearhead – Akio Toyoda – at the head of a car company can do wonders for entertaining product development, the three hundred horsepower GR Corolla has rolled out and dragged the nameplate into conversations with machines like the Civic Type R and other hot hatchbacks.

There are three trims of the GR Corolla. Out of the gate is the Core trim, powered by a 1.6-liter turbocharged inline three-cylinder making the aforementioned triple-century ponies at 6,500 rpm. Every GR Corolla, regardless of the amount you spend, is good for the same amount of horsepower. The brakes are equal across the trim line as well, save for a splash of red paint on the aluminum calipers on the top two trims. 

All-wheel drive is onboard with a trio of power settings including ones with 50/50 or 30/70 splits. That’s a six-speed manual, of course. Tires on the $35,900 Core and $42,900 Circuit trims are 235/40R18 Michelin Pilot Sport 4 high-performance summer hoops. Also part of the deal? Complimentary 1-year National Auto Sport Association (NASA) membership which includes a free High Performance Driving Experience (HPDE). Good stuff.

A major variance between the Core and Circuit is the latter’s standard front/rear Torsen limited-slip diffs, able to expertly claw for traction whether the driver is at Laguna Seca or simply Exit 12 on the interstate. An available $1,200 performance package corrects that omission on the Core and we’d wager most enthusiasts would (rightly) check that option box without hesitation. Whether they go for some of the optional luxuries like heated seats and wireless phone charging is up to them.

Plenty of digital ink has been spilled on the top-spec Morizo Edition, a trim that sheds weight and bumps torque to 295 lb-ft of twist from 273. It ditches the back seat and most of its audio speakers in a quest for lightness, plus gear like the rear wiper blade and motor. This slim-fast regimen drops about 100 lbs to tip the scales at a listed 3186 pounds. Tires are upgraded to sticky Cup 2s.

So what’s the pick? Perhaps predictably, we’d select the Core with optional limited-slip diffs, pushing the MSRP to $37,080 – provided you can find one not marked up by greedy dealers. This author will also splash out $425 on Supersonic Red paint because he is an irritating extrovert.

Still, pour one out for the Morizo. That $49,900 track weapon was designed to meet specifications desired by Toyoda himself – tight handling, a high power-to-weight ratio, and a highly rigid body – proving that having a gearhead at the helm is the right call for waking up an entire car company.

[Image: Toyota]

Become a TTAC insider. Get the latest news, features, TTAC takes, and everything else that gets to the truth about cars first by subscribing to our newsletter.

Matthew Guy
Matthew Guy

Matthew buys, sells, fixes, & races cars. As a human index of auto & auction knowledge, he is fond of making money and offering loud opinions.

More by Matthew Guy

Join the conversation
3 of 23 comments
  • Sid SB Sid SB on Dec 28, 2022

    Local dealers in Arkansas do not seem to be able to say they will get a Core, let alone a Circuit. Feels like the Golf R again, generate demand but very limited supply :(. Toyota in Japan is running a lottery for the GR Corollas, seems a good idea.

    • Mike-NB2 Mike-NB2 on Dec 31, 2022

      Agreed. I put a deposit on a Golf R back in October 2021 (not 2022) and there isn't even a VIN generated yet. 14 months and it'll likely be much, much longer.

  • El scotto El scotto on Dec 28, 2022

    Wait, wait! Did Toyota build a boy racer with normal Corolla dependability?

  • Lou_BC While we discuss Chinese cars, Chinese politics, and Chinese global desires, I'm looking at TTAC and Google display advertising for Chinese tires. They have nukes aimed at us but their money and products are acceptable to consumers and business?
  • TheTireWhisperer And a thankful Memorial day to all.
  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X Take some time today to realize that virtually zero soldiers had died defending your border.
  • Tassos As somebody who is NOT a stupid fanatic about EVs one way or the other:No manufacturer has built a "Better Tesla" EV yet. Most have tried, we wait for TOyota only (last hope for the Tesla haters)UNLESS a DIRT CHEAP Model 2 comes along (will never happen in the next 2 or 3 years), Do NOT expect that 7% to go to even 10%, let alone the ... 30% clueless Idiot Joe Biden voters expect. If anything, PLUG INS and HYBRIDS may, in the SHORT term, bring the 7% down.
  • Pig_Iron 💝