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Source: Motorpress /Toyota South Africa

GR Corolla 1.6T Core: R841 000

According to Vice President of Marketing at Toyota South Africa Motors (TSAM) Glenn Crompton says the addition of the GR Corolla to the local Gazoo Racing line-up represents a landmark occasion for both TSAM and the Corolla nameplate.

GR Corolla 1.6T Circuit: R902 400
Joining the GR86, GR Supra and GR Yaris in the high-performance TOYOTA GAZOO Racing family, the GR Corolla features a turbocharged petrol engine, all-wheel drive, wider track front and rear, completely overhauled suspension, and design features and styling enhancements that clearly set it apart from the rest of the Corolla family.

“For decades Corolla has been one of South Africa’s most-loved models, and it’s exciting to see how it has evolved and maintained relevance in the market over the years. Similarly, motorsport has long been a part of Corolla’s DNA and to have a fully-fledged hot hatch version of the Corolla is a huge thrill,” says Crompton.

Based on the popular Corolla hatch, the GR Corolla is underpinned by the acclaimed TNGA-C platform, significantly enhanced for high-performance driving dynamics.


Designers and engineers worked in harmony to shape the GR Corolla’s exterior design, making multiple changes compared to the Corolla hatch that not only give it a more dynamic appearance, but also improve the vehicle’s performance, aerodynamics and handling.

Starting with the striking Corolla hatch as a template, engineers extended the front and rear wheel arches outwards by 20mm and 30mm respectively to emphasise the vehicle’s wide and low stance, with track increased by 60mm at the front and 90mm at the rear for optimal grip and roadholding.

The GR Corolla features an almost completely revised front end, centred around the signature Functional Matrix grille that adorns other GR products.

The Functional Matrix grille features a powerful square design offering superb cooling performance, with airflow to the radiator, turbocharger and brakes assisted by an air guide below the grille.

The blacked-out grille is embossed with a ‘G’ mesh pattern, signifying it as a member of the GR performance family.

Flanking the expansive grille is a pair of side air curtains that channel air into the wheel arches and out via ducts placed behind the fenders.

Like the GR Yaris, the GR Corolla features a large front underspoiler with a raised central and horizontal section designed to control airflow under the vehicle and reduce drag.

Aero spats placed underneath the lower bumper help aerodynamics by directing air away from the tyres, with spats for the rear wheels as well. A large gapless underfloor cover further helps reduce drag, with aero stabilising fins beneath the vehicle optimally directing airflow.

LED headlights with automatic high beam offer excellent night-time vision, surrounded by a sweeping daytime running light signature shared with the Corolla hatch.

The bonnet has been raised by 25mm, with functional air vents (Circuit models only) installed on the top to help dissipate heat from the engine bay. Body coloured door handles offer a premium look, while the revised lower rocker mouldings feature ‘GR-FOUR’ lettering embossed into the sheet metal.

The wide rear track is further emphasised with the rear edge of the fenders shortened compared to the Corolla hatch to enhance aerodynamic performance and showcase the vehicle’s wide, low stance.

A newly installed rear diffuser surrounds arguably the GR Corolla’s most iconic visual feature – a unique triple-exit exhaust system that not only offers a striking look but also helps to reduce exhaust backpressure and improve engine output.

Air ducts are also built into the rear bumper to further improve aerodynamics, while the LED tail-light cluster matches that of the Corolla hatch. The side mirrors and alloy wheels are finished in black to complement the grille and rear bumper.

The GR Corolla rolls on 18-inch ENKEI cast aluminium wheels with a 15-spoke design, shod in 235/40R18 Yokohama Advan rubber. The GR Corolla’s aluminium monobloc calipers are also painted red on all variants.

Overall, the GR Corolla measures 35mm longer than the Corolla hatch, with a 10mm increase at the front and 25mm at the rear. Vehicle height has been reduced by 10mm thanks to the GR Corolla’s sports suspension.

GR Corolla is offered in four exterior paint colours, including Fierce Red, Raven Black, White Glacier and Midnight Grey (Circuit models only).


The interior of the GR Corolla clearly reflects the vehicle’s performance intentions with an array of unique features and specification upgrades, compared to the Corolla hatch.

With a driver-focused design, the GR Corolla gains a new three-spoke leather-wrapped steering wheel adapted from the GR Yaris, providing an ergonomic fit with better grip perfectly suited to dynamic driving.

The centre console has been redesigned with a new short-throw shift lever emblazoned with a GR logo, while the console trim, manual parking brake and shift gate are upholstered in leather with contrast silver stitching.

The centre console box has been replaced by an open tray with USB-C and 12V ports to ensure unobstructed operation of the manual transmission, and features two cupholders and a wireless phone charger.

Aluminium pedals create a sporty impression and are perfectly spaced for heel/toe driving techniques. The front seats too have been upgraded to cater for enthusiastic driving with heated sports seats based on those in the GR Yaris, upholstered in a mixture of BRIN-NAUB suede and leather.

A unique 12.3-inch instrument cluster display is offered on GR Corolla, allowing the driver to customise layout based on their preference. The first layout shows a linear tachometer running along the top of the screen with selected gear and vehicle speed shown below, and is ideal for track driving.

Further multi-information display screens on either side of the main display can offer valuable information including fuel economy, G forces, oil/coolant pressure, boost pressure and trip information. These displays can also be hidden if the driver prefers a more minimalist look.

The other layout is centred around a circular tachometer containing vehicle speed and selected gear, with additional read-outs on the side. The area showing selected gear can also be configured with a range of different displays according to driver preference.

The GR Corolla’s 7.0-inch touchscreen display houses Toyota’s advanced multimedia system, offering compatibility with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

A compact and lightweight air conditioning unit has been installed for the dual-zone climate control system, featuring a simple operation panel with temperature adjustment dials. Trim elements on the dashboard, door handles and console are finished in a silver smoke metallic colour.

Unique front bucket seats have been adopted with a special two-tone black and red / black and white upholstery scheme. The two-tone theme is reflected throughout the cabin with contrast red stitching applied to the steering wheel, gear shifter, parking brake and armrest.


At the heart of the GR Corolla is a high-performance turbocharged 1.6-litre three-cylinder petrol engine developed using Toyota’s extensive motorsport expertise, tuned to offer superb output in a small, lightweight package.

Based on the same engine powering the acclaimed GR Yaris hot hatch, the 1.6-litre powertrain has been further developed and modified for the GR Corolla, delivering increased peak outputs of 221kW at 6500rpm and 360Nm from 3000-5550rpm. Official combined fuel consumption is 8.4l/100km with CO2 emissions of 191g/km.

To achieve such high output from a compact engine, multiple technologies derived from motorsport experience have been adopted to ensure reliability and high performance.

Thinner cylinder head walls and a two-level cam cap structure help reduce weight, while sealing and combustion chamber cooling performance have been improved by reworking the structure of the water jacket, cylinder block, cylinder number 1 timing chain cover, cylinder number 2 head and the timing chain cover.

A new exhaust cam bearing has been added at the rear edge of the third cylinder to increase output, while motorsport technology has been used to ensure high-speed combustion is achieved.

The intake port shape, injector spray shape and combustion chamber shape have all been optimised, with an eccentric press-fit valve seat added in the intake valve seat. Intake port efficiency is increased with a higher tumble and flow, while the piston combustion chamber has been designed with a spherical shape which reduces knocking and air disturbance.


The incredible dynamic ability of the GR Corolla would not be possible without the rigid, sophisticated TNGA-C architecture, that offers excellent torsional rigidity, low weight and precise handling.

Using the acclaimed TNGA-C platform that underpins the Corolla hatch, engineers have further strengthened the chassis with an additional 349 spot welds placed throughout the body.

GR Corolla gains an additional 2748mm of structural adhesive, primarily around the floor-pan, rear wheelhouse and front side member. Reinforcement braces have been added to the underfloor, front and rear suspension members and between the rear wheels.

Weight reduction was also a focus for engineers, trimming the weight of the body and exterior by 13kg compared to the Corolla hatch with thinner front and rear bumpers, new front suspension members and a reduction in underbody panels and sound absorption materials.

The GR Corolla’s suspension layout has been thoroughly reworked, increasing the track by 60mm at the front and 90mm at the rear compared to the Corolla hatch, to improve stability and lower the centre of gravity.

At the front, a light and rigid MacPherson strut type suspension set-up is used with increased camber and optimised suspension geometry to allow for the best possible road contact and steering feel.

Suspension components offer increased rigidity compared to the Corolla hatch, with newly designed shock absorbers, coil springs, strut bearing spacer and absorber knuckle bracket.

A highly modified trailing double-wishbone suspension arrangement is used at the rear, with newly-designed components including shock absorbers, coil springs, suspension arm bushings, stabiliser and axle carrier.

Like the front, initial camber has been expanded by reducing the span of the upper arm, with optimised rigidity for each suspension component.

Stopping power comes courtesy of four-piston aluminium monobloc front calipers and 356mm ventilated two-piece disc brakes, with two-piston aluminium monobloc calipers and 297mm ventilated discs at the rear. All versions feature red brake calipers emblazoned with the GR logo.

The GR Corolla employs an electric power steering system, using a brushless motor that is integrated with the ECU. A speed sensing function lightens steering effort at low speeds and creates a more responsive feel at higher speeds.

Torsion bar rigidity in the torque sensor has been reduced to improve feel during initial steering operation, while steering rigidity has been improved with a new steering gear brace.

The steering gear ratio has also been increased from 55.27 to 60mm per revolution compared to the Corolla hatch, with manual tilt and telescopic steering wheel adjustment available.

Three distinct drive modes are available that allow drivers to change the parameters of the powertrain, suspension and steering, and air conditioning system with Eco, Normal and Sport modes.

A VSC OFF switch allows users to set a range of vehicle stability control and traction control parameters.


The GR Corolla’s underpinnings allow compatibility with advanced Toyota Safety Sense driver assistance technology, providing no compromise on occupant safety.

Emergency steering assist can help drivers evade roadside obstacles including pedestrians, bicycles and parked cars, with mild steering assistance that still keeps the vehicle from leaving its lane.

The high-speed active cruise control is operable at speeds above approximately 30km/h and now offers a fourth pre-set distance setting, as well as turn signal-linked control.

This can provide smooth overtaking by engaging preliminary acceleration when the driver operates the turn signal. The preliminary acceleration will not be applied if a preceding vehicle is detected in the overtaking lane.

When turning into a lane with a preceding car travelling slower than the set vehicle speed, early preliminary deceleration will be applied for smoother deceleration.

If the identified speed limit is higher than the set speed, the driver can press and hold the ‘+’ button on the steering wheel to reset the cruise control speed in accordance with the identified speed limit, and the ‘-’ button if the car is travelling faster than the limit.

When the cruise control is active, the curve speed reduction feature, which reads the road ahead and can slow the vehicle if the corner is deemed sharp enough, can now identify corners and engage braking earlier than before, retaining compatibility with lane trace assist (LTA).

While normally keeping the vehicle centred in its lane, LTA can also offset its position within the lane when passing nearby targets in adjacent lanes such as cyclists, or when driving past roadside construction.

Front and rear parking sensors and the reverse camera are included. Seven SRS airbags are also included as standard for excellent passive occupant protection.


A 9-services/90 000km service plan is provided as well as a 3-year/100 000km Warranty. Customers can also purchase extended service plans via their Toyota dealer.


- GR Corolla 1.6T Core: R841 000

- GR Corolla 1.6T Circuit: R902 400

The GR Corolla is available in limited numbers and customers are encouraged to register their interest with the nearest dealer as soon as they can.
The GR Corolla is available in limited numbers and customers are encouraged to register their interest with the nearest dealer as soon as they can.
A 9-services/90 000km service plan is provided as well as a 3-year/100 000km Warranty. Customers can also purchase extended service plans via their Toyota dealer.

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