Toyota GR Corolla review: practical hot hatch driven

June 11, 2024 by

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The Toyota GR Corolla is a hot hatch that’s fun to drive and practical enough for daily driving duties – but you can’t buy it in the UK…

What’s good

  • Very capable on a twisty road
  • Practical enough for everyday use
  • Morizo Edition turns everything up to 11

What’s not so good

  • Not on sale in the UK
  • GR Yaris is more agile
  • Alternatives have bigger boots

Wowscore: 8/10

Is the Toyota GR Corolla a good car?

This is the Toyota GR Corolla, a high-performance hot hatch that’s comfortable, practical and great fun to drive. But don’t get too excited because it’s a bit like a green tea-flavoured Kit Kat – while you can buy it in Japan, you can’t get it in the UK…

Other practical performance cars you might consider instead include the Honda Civic Type R, Hyundai i30 N or Volkswagen Golf GTI. Or perhaps the GR Corolla’s sibling, the GR Yaris.

The GR Corolla differs from the GR Yaris by being bigger, which has a bunch of benefits in terms of practicality. But the first thing you’ll notice is how much meaner it looks than the regular Corolla – flared wheelarches make it wider, and you get a huge front bumper and vents in the bonnet to help with cooling. There’s a new bumper at the rear too, which has three exhaust exits.

It’s extra sporty inside too, with more figure-hugging seats, lots of red stitching and part-Alcantara, part-leather upholstery. The steering wheel is also wrapped in soft Alcantara, and is one of various GR-specific parts that range from the gear knob to the pedals.

Where the GR Corolla has a big advantage over the smaller GR Yaris is interior space, particularly in the rear seats. You could happily use it for everyday driving duties, with adults travelling comfortably in the back and enough space for a child seat.

The boot is smaller than the regular model, but at 213 litres it’s bigger than what you get in the GR Yaris. Still, it offers quite a bit less space than you’ll find in the alternatives mentioned above, particularly the cavernous Honda Civic Type R.

You might just forgive it the small boot for the way it drives. Under the bonnet sits the same turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine found in the GR Yaris, but it’s been tweaked and upgraded to boost power from the original GR Yaris’s 261hp to 304hp in the GR Corolla.

That might still be someway down on the Honda, but it’s more than you get in the Hyundai and Volkswagen and it certainly feels quick. There’s plenty of performance to punch you out of corners and it makes some fun turbo noises in the process.

The GR Corolla is more grown up than the GR Yaris. Whereas that car feels a bit manic, this feels a bit heavier but therefore more stable. It still has fantastic grip thanks to wide, sticky tyres and all-wheel drive, and the steering is smooth so it’s easy to place the car where you want it. The brakes are great too, and not too grabby so you can judge your approach to a corner naturally.

It’s great – that is until you try the special Morizo Edition. It’s a much meaner prospect, with the back seats removed to save weight and extra bracing to make the chassis stiffer, which makes the car handle better. It has a bit more torque from the engine and proper bucket seats that hug you in turns.

The GR Corolla Morizo Edition turns everything up to 11, feeling more raw and aggressive when driving quickly. It’s a bit more like the GR Yaris’s manic character, and when we got out the specialist timing gear, it was a whole one second quicker than the regular GR Corolla, which is mighty impressive on a short track.

The bad news? You can’t buy the GR Corolla in the UK. It’s currently only being sold in Japan and America. However, here’s hoping Toyota sees fit to start selling it over here, because if it does become available, it should be pretty high on your hot hatch shopping list.

In the meantime, check out the latest Toyota deals on Carwow, or browse used GR Yaris models from our network of trusted dealers. You can also look at other used Toyotas, and when the time comes to sell your current car, Carwow can help with that, too. Just tap the button below to get started.