Toyota's Gazoo Racing banner is set to buck the electrification trend with the upcoming GR Corolla.
Although it has yet to be confirmed and is unlikely to be launched until 2023, Toyota filed a trademark for the GR Corolla name last year. Insiders have told Autocar that such a car will “inevitably” be offered alongside the rally homologation special GR Yaris, introduced last year to critical acclaim, and the the straight-six petrol GR Supra.
This would make it the second Japanese manufacturer to skip electrification for a new performance model, with Honda set to retain a high-output turbocharged petrol engine for its next Civic Type R.
A hot Corolla would also allow Toyota to leverage its substantial investment in the bespoke chassis and powertrain used in the GR Yaris, which makes use of some platform elements from the Corolla. If that is the intention, expect the 1.6-litre three-cylinder turbo unit to return with a similar (and reportedly understated) 257bhp claimed output and a four-wheel drive system with rear-biased torque distribution. Limited-slip differentials on both axles could also be an option.
It remains to be seen if such a car would be priced in line with full-on 4WD hot hatch rivals such as the Golf R, given the high-spec version of the GR Yaris already tops £33,000. Another direction Toyota could take, to allow the car to compete on price with cars such as the Ford Focus ST, would be to ditch the rear driven axle and retune the chassis and sophisticated multi-link suspension of the existing Corolla. This would make it slower than its sibling but reduce complexity and boost both profitability and customer affordability.
While some car makers are scaling back their combustion-engined performance operations to avoid CO2 fleet average fines, Toyota’s strong hybrid sales mix has enabled it to reduce its average emissions.
This, Toyota Europe executive vice-president Matt Harrison previously told Autocar, allows it to make more “CO2-heavy” cars that serve the brand by adding desirability and performance credentials.