Simply Brilliant: GR Corolla Key to Open Toyota’s Hot Hatch

Wed 07 Jun 23


Boston is a big dog. A cross I determined somewhere between a Dobermann and a dromedary.

He lives across the street and if you care to get close to him (why?), you will detect a slight hump between his huge shoulder blades.

Toyota has named its 2023 GR Corolla hatchback the ‘Pet Man’, presumably because it’s cabin-friendly for toy-sized passengers like Pomeranian-poodles and Bichon Frise-dachshunds.

Boston need not apply.

Birth rates are declining in Australia, but small dog populations are soaring, especially among the ‘dink’ generation … “double income no kids”.

Little dogs are everywhere – on the street, in parks, outside and inside cafes, wandering through Bunnings and peering through the windows of cars or from backpacks on electric scooters – attracting a lot more loving affection than babies in prams used to. No more cootchi-cootchie-coo for little Annie.

Inside Corolla… safety features abound, including an SOS emergency button in the overhead console.

Currently, there are an estimated 28.7 million household pets in Australia, and most are small dogs (69%).

But let’s not get petty over such trivial matters.

The Toyota GR Corolla, one of the most anticipated hatches and a big brother to the mechanically related GR Yaris, has arrived in Australia in limited numbers,

Just 500 units are booked for its first year, and Toyota says unprecedented global demand will extend wait times, “which will vary across our model range and may result in a different specification and/or different prices at the time of delivery.”

So, if you know a good car dealer (“psst, do you want a feverish red GR Pet Man?”) you’ll need around $35,900. A good bang for your buck, reckon Toyota sports car afficionados.

This would suggest likely Toyota Australia pricing in the mid-$50,000 range for a GR Corolla Core and a mid-$60,000 range for the GR Corolla Circuit – assuming both variants get here any time soon. The GR Corolla Morizo will likely arrive in strictly niche numbers also and will cost more again.

Footage courtesy of @theredline

So, to the GR Corolla Pet Man, a brilliantly simple front engine, rear-wheel drive coupe backed by more than six decades of Toyota motor sport.

A stiffer chassis and upsized 4-cylinder 2.4L powertrain deliver 174kW of power and 250Nm of torque through the 6-speed manual or automatic transmission with paddle shift.

Fourth in Australia’s iconic GR Series, this a versatile hatch coupe with a turbo-charged 3-cylinder production engine producing 221kW of power and 370Nm of torque.

A rally-derived GR-four all-wheel-drive system is fitted to a 3-cylinder engine delivering 21kW more power than the GR Yaris.

The GR-four also lets you distribute front and rear output to 60/40 for everyday driving, 50/50 for balanced track precision or 30/70 for rear-wheel driving with a playful amount of oversteer.

Three functional tailpipes have an exhaust valve that opens at high speeds. More engine power, more noise and, as I expected, more fun.

The GR Corolla is assembled in the same section of Toyota’s Motomachi plant as the GR Yaris and (formerly) Lexus LFA, with more manual assembly techniques and slower build times – hence the low production numbers.

While the GR Corolla uses the donor car’s GA-C platform, the body has 349 more spot welds and up to 7 m of added structural adhesive.

Weight has been stripped out thanks to a forged carbon roof and aluminium bonnet, while the even more hardcore Morizo edition loses its back seats and adds bracing and a boot big enough for a full tyre set.

The GR’s five-door design, 213 litres of cargo space, smart entry and smart start, connected technology and advanced safety features cater for all driving routines.

The cabin opens with a dynamic ‘Gazoo Racing’ startup animation, a 12.3 in. head-up display putting your speed and RPM front and centre. Toggle between a horizontal, circuit-inspired tachometer or a one-dial layout and it’s much like a race car.

An SOS emergency call is accessed any time via a button in the overhead console. In the event you cannot access the button, an automatic collision notification system can transmit on-board information such as your location to emergency responders.

Safety features abound… front AEB with pedestrian and cyclist and junction detection; rear cross-traffic alert; blind-spot monitoring; tyre-pressure monitoring; reversing camera; traffic sign recognition; and seven airbags.

Seating capacity is comfortable for five people, including three small dogs.


  • Orson Whiels

    Orson Whiels has been a motoring writer for many years and was motoring writer at Queensland Country life in the 1960s-70s and then motoring editor at Australian Timberman.)


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