Don’t expect it to hit the market before 2020

Toyota is carefully charting their next steps in the performance car market. The Supra is just around the corner, finally, and this is only the beginning as the Japanese manufacturer plans to increase the footprint of the Gazoo Racing performance brand, and the Corolla might be one of the favorites to receive the added steroids to make it a proper hot hatch.

Toyota is now playing around with a number of performance-oriented sub-brands. There’s the Gazoo Racing nameplate that designates both the automaker’s works racing teams in the WRC, the WEC, and elsewhere in motorsports and a series of modified road cars. Then there’s also the GRMN - Gazoo Racing Masters of Nurburgring - sub-brand that offers a similar treatment, but in very limited quantities. Finally, for the U.S. market, there’s the Toyota Racing Development (TRD) brand that’s now offering a sportier version of the Avalon, the Camry, and the 86 with more set to come. So, where does the peppered-up Corolla fall in this complicated puzzle? Read on to find out!

A quicker Corolla is on the cards, but it won’t be here in the near future

Look Out: Toyota is So Going to Take on the Hyundai i30N with a Corolla GR Exterior
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Just a few years ago, Toyota used to be a brand that offered a wide palette of dull, unimaginative-looking cars. The only spicier offering was the Toyota 86, a car that was born out of a collaboration between Toyota and Subaru and also spawned the Scion FR-S.

This is not to say that Toyota wasn't offering their performance-obsessed clients some sportier models, but they were mostly doing it in homeland Japan.

The Gazoo Racing Masters of Nurburgring name first appeared glued on a faster version of the IQ, all the way back in 2009 when Lexus was barely kick-starting the LF-A test program. Three years later, the IQ received a supercharger under the same Gazoo Racing moniker, which, by now, also appeared in the name of the manufacturer’s entry in the World Endurance Championship. The ’Masters of Nurburgring’ part refers to Toyota’s expertise on the Nurburgring-Nordschleife circuit, the Japanese automaker routinely testing its products there as well as entering the local VLN endurance series and the famed 24-hour race held annually at the ’Green Hell.’

Look Out: Toyota is So Going to Take on the Hyundai i30N with a Corolla GR Exterior
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As years rolled by, Toyota realized the Gazoo Racing name could be used as an umbrella under which all sporty Toyotas could be found. Currently, there are a number of GR (or GR Sport) models on sale, like the GR Prius, GR Mark X, GR Vits, and GR Harrier, but they’re only available on the Asian market. Toyota plans to make GR a global brand and the first step is to brand the new Supra as a GR product.

Up next, you can expect other models to receive the GR treatment, like the Corolla. This is in line with what Jack Hollis, GM of Toyota U.S.A., said.

There's a catch, though: Stateside, the GR models could be sold under the already-established TRD nameplate since Hollis didn't mention the GR name once in his most recent interviews.

It makes for a complicated bigger picture which is something that Toyota should sort as soon as possible so as to not confuse consumers who will be trying to figure what the difference between a TRD model and a GR/GRMN model or if there are any at all.

Regardless of how it will be named, the new Corolla hot hatch could draw on the experience and results of other hot hatch manufacturers such as Hyundai, who’ve enjoyed sizeable success with their N models. “It’s not just Hyundai. Other car brands are doing this too, so we are researching this and we have to create the [right] brand strategy,” Tada-San told CarSales.

Look Out: Toyota is So Going to Take on the Hyundai i30N with a Corolla GR Exterior
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He went on to add that "we have lots of requests from different countries, so it’s really, really challenging to decide on the order [of performance models]." That’s to say that they’re evaluating their options and that just about anything is plausible, although a hot Corolla would make sense given how popular hot hatches are nowadays.

Then again, the ultra-crowded niche might drive Toyota to choose a less obvious model to apply its GR treatment next.

All we can do now is wait and see and hope the Corolla is on their short list because the new generation looks especially fearsome with its big grille up front, LED running lights, aggressive lines and some boomerang-shaped taillights that already look like they mean business.

Further reading

Toyota Brightens Its 2020 Lineup with a Redesigned Corolla That's More Powerful and Safer Than Ever Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2020 Toyota Corolla.

Look Out: Toyota is So Going to Take on the Hyundai i30N with a Corolla GR Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback.

2016 Toyota 86 GRMN High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2016 Toyota 86 GRMN

2018 Toyota Yaris GRMN High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2018 Toyota Yaris GRMN

2020 Toyota Supra GR
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Read our full speculative review on the 2020 Toyota Supra GR.

Source: Car Sales

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