The all-new 2023 Honda Civic Type R is priced at $45,490.
Volkswagen Golf R starts at $47,495.
The Golf R and GR Corolla are all-weather sport compact car heroes
AWD, turbo, 6-speed manual, the Volkswagen Golf R and Toyota GR Corolla are driving enthusiasts’ wet dreams. Frankly, it’s not that bad as most of us are toilet-trained at this point but they give rise to all kinds of feelings and emotions to could lead to embarrassing physical manifestations.
In all seriousness, both of these extra-hot sport compact cars, along with the all-new 2023 Honda Civic Type R, sit at the very top of the incredibly enticing and addictive segment. What these two have in common is that they can be and are vying for the title of the ultimate all-weather-all-season high-performance daily driver.
Though they may be similar in basic specifications, Volkswagen Golf R and Toyota GR Corolla are not entirely aimed at the same buyers. In short, the Golf is tailored towards a slightly older clientele interested in speed without feeling the possible stings related to it. The Corolla, on the other, is a riot.
Let’s compare these two hot hatches here to find out which is the better option for you, if possible.
What is the pricing and when will they be available?
Both cars are currently available for purchase but you’ve got a better chance at winning a significant lottery amount than actually getting one anytime soon. The demand are the global part supply chain woes are complicating production and delivery. What’s more, they are offered in massive quantities.
The 2023 Volkswagen Golf R comes one way for $47,495 and that’s with a manual transmission. The only options are the DSG automatic transmission which adds $1,400 to the price tag and a $1,250 sunroof. Colour selection has no impact on the price.
Pricing for the new 2023 Toyota GR Corolla begins at $45,490 for the base Core version. The slightly more hardcore Circuit Edition goes for $53,990 and adds, among other items, a carbon fibre roof, a vented hood bulge, and a rear spoiler. Finally, the pure-unobtanium MORIZO Edition, priced at $59,990, blows more torque to the tune of 295 lb-ft of torque, rear seat delete, Michelin Cup 2 tires, and more. Also, you’ll not ever get one.
Which is more entertaining to drive?
Without hesitation, the GR Corolla. In reality, both are addictively good but the Toyota is designed to play harder.
Its turbocharged 1.6L 3-cylinder engine, good for 300hp at 6,500 rpm and 273 lb.-ft. of torque from 3,000 to 5,500 rpm, is loud and sharp. The 6-speed manual transmission, the only one available, is mechanically satisfying and easy to engage. Combined, the powertrain has but one goal in mind and that is covering ground with maximum efficiency. Helped in large part by the standard GR FOUR AWD system, the Corolla begs to be driven hard.
The Golf R, in contrast, is a grown-up compact hatch that can play ball with the best of them but that is equally happy puttering about in complete comfort and civility. Its turbocharged 2.0-litre 4-cylinder engine, irated at 315 horsepower at 5,600 rpm and 295 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,000 rpm, might be more powerful but speeds are reached in more or less the same amount of time, or 4.9 seconds with the 6M to the GR Corolla’s 4.99 seconds to 100 km/h. The optional DSG knocks a few tenths off that figure.
The Golf R’s 4MOTION AWD system is more sophisticated than ever and now features a drift mode however on a track, the GR Corolla’s adjustable torque split layout and front and rear Torsen limited-slip differentials provide serious bite.
On the road, the Golf R’s adjustable dampers level road surfaces where long-distance drives are no more painful than in an Audi A4. The GR Corolla though is, like the Civic Type R, a more dynamic and a more involving driver. Again, like the Honda, the Toyota’s steering offers more grit, sharper responses, and less-filtered feedback.
Finally, the Morizo is the pinnacle of sport compact driving everything. There’s a little more in my review.
Which is better equipped?
The Golf R. Once more, both cars are delivered with plenty of modern tech features like Apple CarPlay/Android Auto compatibility and more. The Corolla gets an 8-inch screen, heated front seats, the limited slip differentials, and that’s about it.
The Volkswagen, on the other hand, is a luxury car. It is delivered with Nappa leather-covered seats, a head-up display, a 10-inch touchscreen display, an 8-way power-adjustable driver seat with memory function, heated front, and outer rear seats, and a heated steering wheel. Most of these features are not available with the GR Corolla.
Equipment could be relative if true go-fast bits are what is desired. The GR Corolla MORIZO Edition charges you far more money for even less “stuff”, replaced instead with more driving pleasure and emotions.
What About Styling?
It’s a tie. But only because both design approaches are valid.
Personally, I love that Toyota went the previous-generation FK8 Honda Civic Type R way when beefing up the Corolla’s appearance. Much of the visual add-ons look as though thrown on the basic hatchback’s body with little care or thought (not true at all) other than covering up the wide 18-inch wheels and generating enough cooling for various components. It truly appeals to the tuner crowd.
The Volkswagen Golf R is nowhere this wild. As always, it remains subtly attractive with elegant and understated, though blistered, body panels and lines. It is the automaker’s vision of Golf+ and it works.
The Golf’s cabin is quite premium whereas the Corolla’s is far more basic – it’s not looking to impress anyone.
Our Thoughts On The 2023 Toyota GR Corolla And 2023 Volkswagen Golf R
It was clear from the onset that the new 2023 Toyota GR Corolla was going to be good. I expected Great things from it, and it delivers. The 2023 Volkswagen Golf R is a proper evolution of one of the best all-around driver’s car money can buy today.
The GR Corolla somewhat replaces and either matches or bests the previously most involving sport compact car, the 2017-2021 Honda Civic Type R. The raw driving experience and immediately responsive chassis render the Toyota as addictive as cocaine. Plus, it’s AWD.
Finally, here are the same three final thoughts as shared in the Type R vs. Golf R comparison: Both cars are exceptional and there is no “lesser” choice. Even if you’d like one soon, you won’t – demand outstrips availability. And, the best option is one of each. Also, why not also get a Type R?