The Toyota Corolla just became a warmer hatch and it’s a sign of things to come

The introduction of the Toyota Corolla GR Sport days before its live debut at the Geneva International Motor Show gives us a first glimpse of what the hypothetical (and probable) Corolla GRMN might be.

The Toyota Corolla GR Sport is the closest in execution to semi-sports hatches like the Ford Focus ST-Line, the Hyundai i30 N-Line, and the Renault Megane GT-Line. As such, the Toyota Corolla GR Sport features a comprehensive set of sporty style additions without any performance upgrades. The Gazoo Racing Sport pack is available for both the base engine and top-trim.

The first semi-hot Toyota hatchback in decades came only weeks after Gazoo Racing trickled out the stunning new Supra. It delivers on the promise Aikido Toyoda, Toyota CEO, gave two years ago - “no more boring cars.” Moreover, with the new Toyota RAV4 TRD, the new Toyota GR Supra, the incredible Toyota Yaris GR, and the announcement of the new Toyota GT86, we live in a time when the world’s favorite manufacturer is again in the business of awesome cars.

What Makes the Toyota Corolla GR Sport Special?

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Note: 2019 Toyota Corolla GR pictured on the left, 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback pictured on the right.

Bear in mind that the new Toyota Corolla GR Sport isn’t a full-fledged hot-hatch. One could call it a warm hatch as it does look sharper compared to the standard version. While the GR Sport basically only adds a styling package, I find it really interesting.

You see, 15 years ago Toyota actually sold a similarly mad Corolla in Europe. It was offered as either a three-door or a five-door hatchback with the 2ZZ-GE, 1.8-liter, turbocharged engine with over 190 horsepower. Back in the day, that was a proper hot-hatch. It was even more powerful than the Golf GTI.

Now, the lesser version of the new Toyota Corolla GR Sport with a 120 horsepower hybrid system can’t match its flamboyance. However, the more powerful version with a 180 horsepower definitely can.

Look at these specs:

Toyota Corolla Performance Comparison

2004 Toyota Corolla 1.8-liter VVT-I Turbo 2019 Toyota Corolla 2.0-liter Hybrid
Engine Cylinders 4 4
Engine Capacity 1,794 cm3 1,987 cm3
Horsepower 192 hp 180 hp
Torque 133 lb-ft 140 lb-ft, + 149 lb-ft (electric motor)
Fuel Economy 28.3 mpg combined 63.5 mpg combined
Acceleration (0-to-62 mph) 8.4 seconds 7.9 seconds
Top Speed 140 mph 112 mph

Obviously, with performance like this the new Toyota Corolla GR Sport with a 2.0-liter hybrid drivetrain is definitely a quick car. I’ll go out on a limb and say that in Europe, it actually threw the proverbial “performance ball” further than Ford did with the ST-line or Hyundai did with the N-Line.

2019 Toyota Corolla GR Sport
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You have already seen what the new Corolla GR Sport looks like, but I doubt you noticed all the changes. Gazoo Racing reimagined the front grille and then added cool lower skirts, sills and a new rear diffuser. The changes do not seem to be that grandiose, but they visually do invigorate the impulsiveness and aggressiveness. Something every Toyota lacked for the past decade or so.

Honestly, I did think that Toyota kept the 18-inch wheels only for the GR Sport, but you can order the wheels in that size on the standard car as well. Even the design of the wheels is the same as you can get on the Corolla Touring Sports 2.0-liter. It does have quite beefy 225/40 tires, though.

Other exterior features include darkened rear windows, front fog lights, LED headlights and a special finish called the Dynamic Grey.

Gazoo Racing Prepared Some Interior Trickery For the New Toyota Corolla GR Sport

2020 Toyota Corolla Sedan - Driven
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Note: standard 2020 Toyota Corolla Sedan pictured here.
The most important thing about the new Toyota Corolla GR Sport is the new seats.

The sports seats inside are unique to this model. The bolsters are thicker and covered with leather. The rest of it is just black cloth. Yet, you can pay a bit more and get full leather. Gazoo Racing differentiates the cabin from the standard Corolla hybrid with black and red stitching on the dash, steering wheel, and gear lever. If you look at the GR plaque, you can see that it’s actually black and red. The stitching matches. A neat touch.

Conclusion

While the Toyota Corolla GR Sport isn’t a full-fledged hot-hatch, it does feature a subtle set of styling additions that speak the performance language far better than all the other Corollas.

Furthermore, it does remind me of one of the best Toyota Corollas of all time - the 192 -horsepower Corolla from 2004. Heck, it’s even quicker.

The Corolla GR Sport is still almost a year away from hitting the market. Toyota plans to sell it in Europe by January 2020. While Toyota did not confirm the Corolla GR Sport for the U.S., I am quite sure it will come here in one shape or another.

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 driven review on the 2020 Toyota Corolla.

The Toyota Corolla Hybrid Looks Sporty and Delivers 50 MPG Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid.

Watch Out Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf Fans - Toyota has a New Corolla Hatchback Heading to the New York Auto Show Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback.

The 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback Actually Looks Great With A Huge Grille Exterior
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Read our full driven review on the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback.

2014 Toyota Corolla High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the previous generation Toyota Corolla.

The Corolla GR Sport is imbued with spirit of Toyota Gazoo Racing, further developing the model’s dynamic looks and driving capabilities. It will be the second model to join the European GR Sport line-up following the introduction of the Yaris GR Sport last year.

Both Hatchback and Touring Sports versions will be available, with a choice of 1.8 or 2.0-litre self-charging hybrid powertrains. The Toyota Gazoo Racing influence is witnessed in distinctive styling elements, including a new front grille with a dark chrome finish, lower skirts and sills and a rear diffuser. The GR Sport has dedicated 18-inch machined-finish alloy wheels, plus rear privacy glass, front fog lights, LED headlights and an exclusive Dynamic Grey bi-tone paint finish.

The cabin features sports seats in black cloth upholstery with leather-effect bolsters; full leather upholstery can be specified as an option. Black and red stitching adds a striking contrast on the instrument panel, steering wheel and shift lever.

The Corolla GR Sport will go on sale in Europe in January 2020. Details of UK availability and specifications will be announced later.

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