2023 Toyota GR Corolla: 5 Cars That Should Be Worried
Toyota finally unveiled the 2023 GR Corolla, and it’s set to rock the hot hatch market.
The humble Corolla hasn’t offered a genuine sporty compact option in … uh, a long time. Then here comes a pumped-up, widebody Corolla. A 300-horsepower, all-wheel drive weapon that leapfrogs cars like the Honda Civic Si and targets the next step up. It throws down 100 hp per cylinder.
Uh, yes please.
After last week’s reveal, there are still a lot of questions, such as cost and performance. There’s also the question of which cars might suffer from the arrival of the Toyota GR Corolla. If the three-cylinder Toyota has piqued your interest, here are five cars you might consider instead—or maybe these are the cars you should hold off on buying.SEE ALSO: Honda Civic Type R vs Hyundai Veloster N: Fast Goodbye
Honda Civic Type R
The most obvious rival to the GR Corolla is another upcoming model: Honda’s red-hot Civic Type R. These two brands have butted heads in pretty much every conceivable segment—now, it’s the hot hatch. At the time of writing, Honda hasn’t fully revealed the 2023 Type R yet. We do know a few important specs, however. It will once again be based off the current Civic Hatchback, which is an excellent base to start from. Like the ‘Rolla, a six-speed manual will be the only transmission option. We expect the CTR to rock an updated version of the outgoing model’s 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. That one was good for 306 hp, so we expect Honda to find at least a dozen extra horses in the corral. The Type R will continue to send all that power exclusively through the front wheels however—will that be its limiting factor? If the old car is any indication, no way.
Volkswagen Golf R
If an AWD hatch is what you need, then Volkswagen has just the answer in the Golf R. The GTI and R are so well-received that they’re the only versions of the Golf us North Americans are deemed worthy of these days. Not that we’re complaining, since the R is a rocket, rolling up hot hatch reflexes and a mini-GT spirit into a practical five-door shape. The latest model once again uses a 2.0-liter turbocharged four—get used to that in this list—sending 315 horsepower and 295 pound-feet to all four contact patches. A trick electronic diff keeps the front end pinned in corners, too. The Corolla is likely to better suited to gravel roads, but we’ll have to get these two AWD powerhouses together to know for sure. Unlike the GR Corolla and Civic Type R, the Volkswagen offers buyers a choice of either manual or (dual-clutch) automatic transmission.
Hyundai Elantra N
Back to front-drive for a second here, with our reigning Performance Car of the Year. The only grin bigger than Hyundai Elantra N’s is the one it plasters onto drivers’ faces. This compact sedan is full of enthusiasm, with a torquey 2.0-liter turbo spitting out 286 hp, and even featuring a push-to-pass overboost button for 10 seconds of added torque. A mechanical LSD provides tenacious cornering grip, and the chassis balance leans decidedly rearward, letting this front-driver wag its tail if you’re so inclined. The Elantra is also something of a performance bargain, at just $32,945 ($38,924 CAD) in six-speed manual form; an eight-speed dual-clutch is also available.
Toyota GR Supra 2.0
A little bit of sibling rivalry has never hurt anybody, right? Well, it might leave Toyota’s halo-model GR Supra with a bit of a black eye. For 2022, the two-seater starts at $44,315 ($58,330 CAD), netting buyers a—you guessed it—2.0-liter turbo-four. Despite carrying an extra cylinder over the Corolla, the Supra’s BMW-sourced power unit puts out 255 hp and 295 lb-ft; a 45-horsepower deficit, but a 22-lb-ft advantage. The Supra’s classic front-engine, rear-drive layout makes for a very different dynamic experience, however. Despite persistent rumors to the contrary, the Supra still comes with just the one transmission option: an eight-speed automatic. Which performance Toyota would you take?
We’ll admit it right from the beginning: the Mazda3 Turbo is not an exact match for the upcoming GR Corolla. Mazda has been adamant that this musclebound hatch is no Mazdaspeed, instead focusing on a smoother, more comfortable everyday ride. It’s still very quick though, thanks to a very clever standard AWD system and the torquiest engine of the bunch. Mazda’s big-displacement 2.5-liter four-pot can produce as much as 320 lb-ft when running on the good stuff, and boy does it show. If you’re not likely to be taking your performance hatch to regular track days, the Mazda3 is one satisfying all-rounder.
Bonus: Subaru WRX
Call it bad timing. A week after Subaru announced it wouldn’t be selling an STI version of the new-for-2022 WRX, Toyota went and built its own take on the icon. The current WRX takes Subaru’s larger 2.4-liter flat-four and spins up 271 horsepower, along with 258 lb-ft. It’s still built with gravel in mind too, unlike the rest of the cars on this list. That extends to the controversial off-roader-style black plastic cladding all over the new shape. A six-speed manual is standard equipment—some traditions can’t change—but Subaru will now sell buyers a WRX with the continuously variable transmission (CVT) attached. In fact, the top trim, with its trick electronic dampers, is only available with the CVT. And it’s priced over $40,000. That makes the latest WRX a tougher sell than ever before.
Become an AutoGuide insider. Get the latest from the automotive world first by subscribing to our newsletter here.