As a chubby mini sports car, the Toyota GR Yaris is a real magic cube with an addictive factor for every rally fan. But what about his big brother? Can the Toyota Corolla inspire just as much after the GR vitamin boost?
The largest car manufacturer in the world is expanding the model name Corolla into an international extended family. And everyone knows: in every family there is this competitive athlete who is always late for coffee and dinner because it was so much fun with the boys outside and a few personal bests still had to be set. The Toyota GR Corolla is just one of those, whose fender cheeks inflate even tighter than the sportiest of all Yaris models. But not only the chubby cheeks of the particularly cool Circuit Edition are a real show on the road – the carbon roof, the martial front and the rear apron with three fanfares also hit the drum in a way you would not expect from Toyota.
The Corolla GR doesn’t just have real rally genes in it’s looks. It’s not just about the stately widened track, huge air intakes, pithy spoiler regalia or the fender flares mentioned, but also a technology package that leaves most competitors gaping in their mouths, not only in an official special stage. Of course, the GR gun is equipped with a variable all-wheel drive so that the 221 kW / 300 hp can be converted into propulsion in a way that is appropriate to the species. The power distribution of the all-wheel drive can be controlled flexibly via a rotary switch on the center tunnel. In normal operation, 60 percent of the engine power is transmitted to the front axle and 40 percent to the rear axle, indicated by a tiny symbol in the instruments. The 50:50 split is more neutral and especially recommended for slippery slopes. If you want to make your way through imaginary special stages in a particularly dynamic way on unpaved slopes, you can transfer up to 70 percent of the power to the rear axle and will be happy more than you would like about the advantages of the Torsen differential locks at the front and rear. Nothing stands in the way of the next drift excursion and the mood that the Toyota GR Corolla makes on the country road should also be the perfect excuse for missing the next family reunion on Sunday afternoon. You have to make a detour to the gas station after the trip anyway – the standard consumption of 9.8 liters of Super per 100 kilometers is already lavish. Anyone who lets it fly is only too happy to pay the express surcharge.
While the GR Corolla’s triple exhaust pipe makes a roaring sound, the engine looks completely different. The 1.6 liter turbo unit cannot deny that it only gets its lavish performance from three combustion chambers. The slightly rattling triad of chatter is and remains a matter of taste, even with such an overpowering exhaust staccato. This does not apply to the chassis tuning, which is more magnificent than ever. The almost 1.5 ton all-wheel drive sticks to the road that it is just pure bliss. The Sport Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires in the 235 / 40 R 18 format interlock as shamelessly with the surface as an intimate embrace that should never end again. The feedback from the pleasantly stiff steering is excellent and, depending on the power distribution, not even the drive forces, which inevitably bring the 370 Nm maximum torque at 3,000 rpm, are a problem even when cornering at high speed.
From a standing start, the robust six-speed manual transmission accelerates to 100 km/h in just over six seconds. Unfortunately, the $44,420 Toyota GR Corolla is also limited to 230 km/h in the sharpened Circuit Edition. Doesn’t matter much, because the stately 4.40 meter long bouillon cube is more fun to Japan when taking hot curves anyway. So that the pilot has everything under control, the joker is equipped with very well-contoured sports seats and sports pedals. The leather steering wheel would feel even more grippy with an Alcantara cover when things get hotter, but the leather upholstery can also please. The digital instrument unit is a bit overloaded, but you quickly get used to the flood of information. This also applies to the eight-inch touchscreen in the center of the dashboard, which can be used to control the navigation, sound system and vehicle functions. Impressive for such a sporty compact model: in addition to various safety systems, there are ten airbags on board alone. A market launch in Germany is at least once in the stars. But the GR Yaris finally made it.