2023 Toyota GR Corolla has a powertrain fit for a rally car

  • The newly announced 2023 Toyota GR Corolla gets a revised version of the 1.6-liter, turbocharged three-cylinder G16E-GTS engine that produces 300 horsepower, or about 185.4 horsepower per liter.
  • A six-speed manual is the only transmission, and the shifter sits next to a distinctive pull-style handbrake.
  • The standard GR Four all-wheel-drive system offers three driver-selectable front/rear torque splits and available Torsen limited-slip differentials.

    Observant North Americans were mightily 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 would not be coming to America. It was considered the most powerful production threesome in the world back then, but Toyota’s Gazoo Racing has upped the stakes to as much as 300 horsepower and 273 pound-feet for the just-announced Toyota GR Corolla, which will absolutely be 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 in-line three that displaces 1618cc, and it shares the same D-4S direct and port fuel injection system and a 10.5:1 compression ratio. Its ball-bearing, single-scroll turbo is integrated into the exhaust manifold itself, but in the larger GR Corolla the spent combustion gases flow into a much freer-breathing, three-port exhaust system that features a valve to control flow out of an additional new central port to greatly reduce back pressure . Maximum torque reaches 3000 rpm and its plateau continues to 5500 rpm, where the power peak of 6500 rpm is not far away.

    The only gearbox available is a six-speed manual, and it seems safe to assume it’ll deliver the same smooth, short-stroke shift action we experienced during a drive of the Europe-only GR Yaris. All of the internal gearing in the close ratio box is the same as the Yaris, including a top gear that’s barely overdriven at 0.90:1. Toyota calls this transmission an Intelligent Manual Transmission (iMT) because it includes a rev-match feature, as well as a hill-start feature to prevent rollback on steep grades. The shifter itself is positioned for easy rider reach, but we can’t help but notice the highlight of the chunky center-pull handbrake.

    The standard GR-FOUR all-wheel-drive system uses an electronically controlled clutch pack mounted on the nose of the rear differential to distribute torque, but unlike the on-demand systems found on most crossover SUVs, that drives System of the GR Corolla all four wheels on all the time. It’s not a question of if, but how much, as the system allows the driver to turn a knob to select the front/rear torque split that best suits the conditions or mood. The everyday default is a 60/40 split, and there’s a rear-heavy 30/70 setting that’s meant to increase the entertainment factor on winding roads. The 50/50 setting is all about track driving, where too much rear-end luck can negatively impact lap times. But these torque splits aren’t set in stone, as the system is able to optimize the split based on real-time feedback on how the car is actually behaving in response to changing driver inputs.

    The Circuit Edition comes standard with Torsen limited-slip differentials front and rear, but they can also be added to the Core class by opting for the Performance package. In both cases, the power generated by the tiny three-cylinder turbo is ultimately glued to the pavement by 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 all-wheel drive combined with a redline clutch shed and a pound-to-horsepower ratio of just 10.8:1 could result in a sub-five second zero-to- 60 mph time.

    All of this seems crazy in the context of a Toyota Corolla, but the GR Corolla seems to more than make up for the fact that the GR Yaris was never sent to these shores. It’s clear that the rally champions at Gazoo Racing had a lot to say in the development of the 2023 GR Corolla and we’re absolutely here for it.

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