Sunday, May 26, 2024
Should-you-buyShould you buy a 2023 Toyota GR Corolla?

Should you buy a 2023 Toyota GR Corolla?


  • The question should be: Can you live without a Toyota GR Corolla?


Allow me to start this story by saying that this won’t be a serious buying tool or guide of the new ultra-mega-cool 2023 Toyota GR Corolla. If you’ve read or watched anything the smallest, in North America, Gazoo Racing product from Toyota, you know this is one of the greatest modern gifts to automotive enthusiasts.

2023 Toyota GR Corolla | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

In the following, I will do little more than butter up the compact hot hatch and repeat that this is one of the best, more exciting cars that I’ve driven in my 25-year-long career as an auto critic. Truly, of the 2,100+ cars that I’ve driven in that period, I’ve only felt the need to buy a given car on a handful of occasions. One was after driving a 2001 WRX, another after a week with a 2005 Volvo XC70, and another, after my third stint in an FK8 Civic Type R. Honestly, I would have loved to purchase a Boxster Spyder or a 997 GT3 but, well, me poor. And yes, too poor to buy a new GR Corolla too.

In a nutshell, the 2023 Toyota GR Corolla is the most serious of jokes where those who laugh at the fact that this is a Corolla will be served a serious dose of reality. Among the current crop of new sport compact cars available for sale in Canada at the moment, this one is the most playful and weaponized.

2023 Toyota GR Corolla | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

For this Should You Buy story, we’ll exceptionally start with the “should not” first as there is only one reason why one would potentially hesitate to sign off on one. The fact that they’re all but impossible to buy does not count.


Why you shouldn’t buy a 2023 Toyota GR Corolla:

The backseat and trunk are small

Let’s be clear: This only applies if you need to carry anything more than your lunch and a folding chair, and a friend to your weekend track activity. Though I did not try it, I don’t think that a set of dedicated track tires/wheels would fit in the boot even with the rear bench folded down. As a responsible adult, father of two young children, I could not use the GRolla as a family vehicle. I would have to keep the family Honda Civic Type R and purchase a GR Corolla, but, as stated, I’m too broke to own both cars. Bad GRolla, BAD!

2023 Toyota GR Corolla | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

Why should you buy a 2023 Toyota GR Corolla:

It’s stunning

And silly looking. The fact that Toyota bothered with front fenders and not rear quarter panels or doors reminds me of the FK8. Essentially, the design team drew plastic add-ons for the rear doors and quarters, side sills, and ordered a keg of Orion and called it a day.

They did sort out the wheels though as the dark multi-spoke alloys fit the GR Corolla brilliantly. So much so that a proper-looking aftermarket wheel might be difficult to source. My only comment here is that the Circuit Edition’s larger rear top-mounted spoiler delivers an extra dose of aggressiveness that is never lost on a car like this.

Turbo 3-pot power

2023 Toyota GR Corolla | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

The turbocharged 1.6L 3-cylinder engine sounds and runs like nothing else. A 3-cylinder engine rumbles like nothing else and under load, it’s tractor-like. But with 300hp at 6,500 rpm and 273 lb.-ft. of torque from 3,000 to 5,500 rpm, it’ll lay the smackdown on cars with 50% more power in a straight line, and more importantly, through apexes.

To boot, the 6-speed manual transmission is mechanical and oh-so-satisfying to slot from cog to cog.

Glued to the road

Despite the absence of adjustable dampers, the GR Corolla is surprisingly civil even on country roads. At the same time, as demonstrated and experienced first-hand, this car never relinquishes its grip on the road’s surface no matter if it’s paved or dirt. And it’s insanely good on a track.

2023 Toyota GR Corolla | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

Helping with all this is the included GR FOUR AWD system. In Canada, as standard, all GR Corolla is fitted with front and rear Torsen limited slip differentials, and with the manually adjustable torque split (60/40, 50/50, and 30/70 (front/rear)), drivers can choose between absolute forward momentum or some tail wagging.


Conclusion

Glory be to the 2023 Toyota GR Corolla! But seriously, it’s not as civilized as the 2023 Volkswagen Golf R nor is it as scalpel precise as the FL5 Civic Type R (or the FK8), but what it manages to do with seemingly less (no torque vectoring or aforementioned programmable dampers) is match the competition in focused driving efficiency but beat them at being plain fun to thrash.

In this segment, there are other choices including the less expensive Hyundai Elantra N and Subaru WRX, but for me, and you, there’s only one GR Corolla. And at $45,490 for a base Core trim, painted Super Sonic red, you will not regret it. For $53,990, the Circuit Edition throws in GR suede seats and signature shift knob, the larger rear spoiler and carbon fibre roof, and a few other items – not worth it in my opinion but do it anyhow.

2023 Toyota GR Corolla | Photo: Matt St-Pierre
2023 Toyota GR Corolla | Photo: Matt St-Pierre
2023 Toyota GR Corolla | Photo: Matt St-Pierre
2023 Toyota GR Corolla | Photo: Matt St-Pierre
2023 Toyota GR Corolla | Photo: Matt St-Pierre
2023 Toyota GR Corolla | Photo: Matt St-Pierre
2023 Toyota GR Corolla | Photo: Matt St-Pierre
2023 Toyota GR Corolla | Photo: Matt St-Pierre
2023 Toyota GR Corolla | Photo: Matt St-Pierre
2023 Toyota GR Corolla | Photo: Matt St-Pierre
2023 Toyota GR Corolla | Photo: Matt St-Pierre
2023 Toyota GR Corolla | Photo: Matt St-Pierre
2023 Toyota GR Corolla | Photo: Matt St-Pierre
2023 Toyota GR Corolla | Photo: Matt St-Pierre
2023 Toyota GR Corolla | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

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Matt St-Pierre
Matt St-Pierre
Trained as an Automotive Technician, Matt has two decades of automotive journalism under his belt. He’s done TV, radio, print and this thing called the internet. He’s an avid collector of many 4-wheeled things, all of them under 1,500 kg, holds a recently expired racing license and is a father of two. Life is beautiful. Send Matt an emai

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