Is the Toyota GR Corolla the right BMW M135i competitor?

Toyota seems to be in a role late. At first it launched the GR Yaris, which instantly caused a worldwide stir, due to its exceptional handling and back-to-basic driving experience. Then it launched the GR86 (which is a subaru more than Toyota) which is one of the funniest cars I’ve ever driven. Now, it is launching another car, this time aimed at cars like BMW M135i – Toyota GR Corolla.

Ridicule what you want in a Toyota product that truly competes with BMW, but the GR Yaris has really shocked even the most snowbust car snub with its great driving experience. It’s clear that those in charge of Toyota’s GR products know what they’re doing, and this new GR Corolla follows a similar recipe.

Toyota GR Corolla 3 of 5 830x553

It is clearly based on the standard Toyota Corolla hatchback. I’ve driven the standard Corolla hatchback and it’s a fine people mover but it’s pretty dull to drive. Of course, I did run the CVT-equipped version, which of course took away any of its charm. There is no transmission in this new Toyota GR Corolla. In fact, it is almost a completely different car.

It all starts with his engine. Toyota GR Corolla uses a 1.6 liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine that makes, wait for it … 300 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. One hundred horsepower per liter from the three-cylinder engine is impressive. Pair the engine with an all-wheel drive system with a six-speed manual transmission and a selectable torque split; 60/40, 50/50, or 30/70 from front to back.

5 830x553 of the Toyota GR Corolla 5

That last bit is interesting. A dial inside the car allows drivers to change the torque split of the all-wheel drive system. A 60/40 front-to-rear setup is used for more usable daily driving, 50/50 for track driving and maximum grip, and 30/70 for more fun, punk driving. It also gets torsion limited-slip differential on both front and rear axles.

The suspension is also GR-specific, using a typical McPherson front strut setup but with a double-wishbone-style multi-link rear. The impressive weight-saving system helps keep the GR Corolla light at its feet, especially the beautiful carbon fiber roof.

With its low ride height, great location and all its scoops and vents, it also looks quite killer. It’s such an extreme look, fun looking small car. Its triple extracts are weird but the rest of it is great.

Toyota has not yet announced the price, but if the price is close to the BMW M135i (or ‘M235i Gran Coupe in the state’), it is going to be attractive. In fact, no BMW customer will buy their car with a Toyota, no matter how cool it may be. This does not mean that it should not be done. This fun little Toyota GR Corolla could be one of the best hot-hatches of the last few years and I personally can’t wait to see it.

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