- the newly announced 2023 toyota gr corolla gets a revised version of the g16e-gts turbocharged 1.6-liter three-cylinder engine that makes 300 horsepower, or some 185.4 horsepower per liter.
- a six-speed manual is the only transmission, and the shift lever sits adjacent to a prominent pull-style handbrake.
- the standard gr four all-wheel-drive system offers three driver-selectable front/rear torque splits, plus available torsen limited-slip differentials.
north americans who were paying attention were mighty upset when it was announced that the rally-inspired toyota gr yaris and its turbocharged three-cylinder engine that delivers 257 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque wasn’t coming to america. at the time it was said to be the most powerful production three-banger in the world, but toyota's gazoo racing has significantly upped the ante to an even 300 hp and 273 pound-feet for the just-announced toyota gr corolla that is absolutely coming to our shores later this year.
this more powerful version of the engine shares the same basic specifications. it’s a dohc 12-valve inline-three that displaces 1618 cubic centimeters, and it shares the same d-4s direct and port fuel-injection system and 10.5:1 compression ratio. its single-scroll ball-bearing turbo is integrated into the exhaust manifold itself, but in the larger gr corolla the spent combustion gasses pass into a much freer-breathing triple-exit exhaust system that features a valve to control the flow out of an added new central exit to greatly reduce backpressure. peak torque arrives at 3000 rpm, and its plateau persists to 5500 revs, at which point the 6500-rpm power peak is not far away.
the only available transmission is a six-speed manual, and it seems safe to assume it’ll deliver the same smooth short-throw shift-action we experienced during a drive of the europe-only gr yaris. all of the internal cogs in the close-ratio box are the same as the yaris's, including a top gear that’s barely overdriven at 0.90:1. toyota refers to this gearbox as an intelligent manual transmission (imt) because it includes a rev-matching feature, as well as hill holding to prevent rollback on steep inclines. the shift lever itself is positioned to be within easy reach of the driver, but we can’t help noticing the prominence of the chunky center-pull handbrake.
the standard gr-four all-wheel-drive system employs an electronically controlled clutch pack mounted to the nose of the rear differential to distribute torque, but unlike the demand-based systems found on most crossover suvs, the gr corolla's system drives all four wheels all the time. it's not a matter of if, but how much, as the system allows the driver to twirl a knob to select the front/rear torque split that's best suited to conditions or mood. the everyday default is a 60/40 split, and there's a rear-drive-heavy 30/70 setting that's meant to up the entertainment factor on winding roads. the 50/50 setting is all about track driving, where too much tail-happiness can negatively affect lap times. but these torque splits are not carved in stone, as the system is able to tweak the distribution based on real-time feedback of how the car is actually behaving in response to changing driver inputs.
the circuit edition comes standard with torsen limited-slip front and rear differentials, but they can also be added to the core grade by opting for the performance package. in either case, the power generated by the diminutive three-cylinder turbo is ultimately pasted to the pavement through 235/40r-18 michelin pilot sport 4 tires mounted on 15-spoke cast-aluminum wheels. toyota hasn't made any acceleration claims, but we suspect that all-wheel-drive traction combined with a redline clutch dump and a pounds-per-horsepower ratio of just 10.8:1 could amount to a sub-five-second zero-to-60-mph time.
all of the above seems insane in the context of a toyota corolla, but the gr corolla looks set to more than make up for the fact that the gr yaris was never sent to these shores. it’s abundantly clear that the rallymeisters within gazoo racing have had a lot of say during the development of the 2023 gr corolla, and we’re absolutely here for it.