2023 Toyota GR Corolla Review

Discover the extremely limited Toyota GR Corolla - the newest addition to the GR family in Australia.

Jacob Brooke
Expert reviewer
Updated on
February 9, 2024
Saucey score


  • Great traction with the new GR-Four AWD system
  • Impressive power and torque for a 3-cylinder
  • Well equipped safety suite


  • Lackluster ergonomics with poor boot space
  • Expensive and hard to get
  • All-wheel drive not quite as good as expected
Car specs

220kW + 370Nm

$62,300 + on-roads

8.4L/100km (claimed)

No ANCAP Rating yet

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The Toyota GR Corolla has finally made its way down under, completing the GR family of Toyota performance cars here in Australia. We were very excited to get our hands on it and see if the tweaked 3-cylinder engine would deliver the kind of driving experience we have come to expect from Gazoo Racing, and how the GR Corolla compares to it’s little brother - the GR Yaris.

With only a limited run of 700 GTS spec cars planned for Australia over the next couple of years, and a very limited run of 25 special “Morizo Edition”, we thought we’d give you guys a pretty good idea of exactly what most of us will be missing out on, by taking a look at the exterior styling, interior features and driving capabilities of GR Toyota’s latest Hot Hatch.

How much does the 2023 Toyota GR Corolla cost?

In Australia we are only getting two trims, the GTS and the Morizo edition.

The GTS (tested) is priced at $62,300 before on-roads, while the Morizo Edition carries a whopping $15,500 premium, at $77,800 before on-roads.

Both models come with the same kit, while the Morizo edition has slightly altered internals to deliver a bit more torque. They are also both exclusively offered in 6-speed manual, though there are strong rumours that GR are looking at an automatic variant in the future,

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What do we think of the exterior looks of the 2023 Toyota GR Corolla?

The GR Corolla looks absolutely mean from all angles, with its flared arches, aggressive lines and black aero ducts immediately distinguishing this monster from the rest of the Toyota Corolla flock. This is because the GR Corolla is entirely manufactured in a different factory to the regular Corolla hatch, and the production process takes 10 times longer.

At the front, we get some bright LED headlights that look lifted straight off a regular Corolla, with an oversized black grille and GR badge proudly fitted to the right of the air intakes (can’t waste any ventilation with this engine!). To the grille's sides are more black air intakes that filter air through to the wheel arches to help cool the red ‘GR’ brake calipers.

Coming to the side we have 18-inch forged alloys as standard on the GTS, they blend in nicely with the rest of the exterior, and make those red GR calipers just pop out. There is some more black aero with a smaller GR badge beside it, and the side skirts have “GR-FOUR” embossed in them, representing the All-Wheel-Drive system present in the GR Corolla.

From the side, you can really see how different the body kit is on this car compared to its mainstream Toyota Corolla counterpart, especially from its rear three-quarters where you can really see just how much they’ve extended the bumpers. Probably the most striking feature of the GR Corolla is its tri-exhaust system. Toyota engineers state that the original design of the car just contained two exhausts, but due to the back pressure from the huge turbo, they found the central exhaust to be necessary. I am absolutely not complaining, I think it looks sick frankly. What I am not a massive fan of, however, is the glossy black plastic cladding used in the exhaust housing, it makes the rear of the car look a little cheap.

I will say, from the boot up it looks exactly like a regular Corolla, so you’ll have a lot of people confused when you launch control at the lights. Overall, Gazoo Racing has put together a really sporty-looking car that has a presence on the road befitting a hot hatch of its calibre.

What’s the Interior like in the 2023 Toyota GR Corolla?

To be honest, we are in a bit of a love/hate relationship with the interior design and features of the new Toyota GR Corolla. While this is based on the facelifted Corolla platform, which means it benefits from the updated infotainment display, crystal clear digital instrument cluster, and premium (enough) materials throughout, it does suffer from some lackluster ergonomics.

Probably the most noticeable is the complete lack of centre armrest, meaning no place to rest your left arm on longer journeys, as well as no storage for loose items, which is a bit disappointing. We suspect this is due to the positioning of the 6-speed shifter, perhaps Gazoo Racing engineers felt that an armrest would just get in the way of enthusiastic shifting.

While this is a matter of preference and wasn’t something that Matt and I saw eye to eye on - that infotainment display is a little small, and for a $60k+ Toyota Corolla, you would expect the larger 10.25-inch screen. While this is true, I believe that most people who buy this specific car wouldn’t really care about the smaller screen size, as it may detract from the pure driving experience that this car delivers… As I said, all a matter of preference, and I can agree with arguments both for and against the larger display.

One thing that all GR Corolla owners can agree on is the 6-speed manual shifter. It's a great feeling unit, with a notchy mechanical feel, and decently short throws, and you get plenty of feedback through it. Accompanying it is a nicely leather-wrapped manual handbrake, another welcome inclusion for most enthusiasts and tail-happy GR fans.

The steering wheel is also very good with a soft leather wrap, it has a good thickness, and the buttons are well laid out, and have a nice matte black look and texture, which makes me wonder why they didn’t just use that same material on the rest of the interior rather than glossy piano black? Anyway, up ahead is the new digital instrument cluster which honestly competes with cars like the Golf R in look and overall functionality, and might even beat the Golf R in customisability. The central tachometer that changes based on drive mode is also very cool, adding shift lights while in Sport mode, and the bright and clear heads-up display is a nice bonus.

The seats are pretty good, while definitely not being the best in the segment. They are an Alcantara-suede material, with faux-leather bolsters, a nice ‘GR’ headrest, as well as heating. They are also manually adjusting, which isn’t a big deal, though they are lacking any sort of adjustable lumbar support or leg-support adjustment which makes long-distance comfort a bit of a concern. Again, not uncommon for the segment, but at this price point it’s a little disappointing.

Overall, storage is passable with a good glovebox, door bins, and a couple of cupholders, as well as a wireless charger to store your iPhone, because of the inclusion of wireless Apple CarPlay, however, Android users will have to opt for a USB connection. The only sore point, again, is that lack of a central armrest with storage, it has a small flat storage area in place but it really isn’t big enough to fit anything.

What about the Back seats in the 2023 Toyota GR Corolla?

The back row has unfortunately taken a hit in terms of quality compared to up front. The seats themselves are still the same Alcantara material and are quite nice and supportive, there is a fold-down faux-leather armrest with some cupholders, in addition to a cup holder in each door. What isn’t so great is the space, with limited leg room, toe room, and acceptable headroom, though back seat passengers may find themselves knocking their heads against the C-pillar.

The material quality apart from the seats isn’t the best, with scratchy black plastic in most places, and more glossy piano black on the doors. There are no air vents at all, and you have to share a USB port and 12V socket with front-seat passengers on the ‘centre console’ since there are no dedicated ports for the back.

How much can the 2023 Toyota GR Corolla fit in the boot?

Boot space is classically quite poor in the Corolla Hatch, and unfortunately, it is also one of the worst aspects of the new Toyota GR Corolla. While the regular Corolla Hatch has 217L of boot space - not great for the segment - the GR Corolla comes in at 213L of space which really isn’t good at all. When we compared this to the Hyundai i30N; it didn’t compete.

That being said, you can fold the seats down and get a flat loading area with a decent amount of space, and you get some limited under-floor storage with small storage bins on either side.

What’s under the bonnet of the 2023 Toyota GR Corolla?

The 2023 Toyota GR Corolla GTS comes with a 1.6L turbo three-cylinder engine that produces 220kW/370Nm and is paired with a six-speed manual transmission that sends power to all four wheels via a new selectable all-wheel drive system.

This AWD system is called GR-Four, and it uses a similar centre differential to the GR Yaris, and all Aussie GR Corollas will come with Torsen Limited-Slip differentials for the front AND rear.

GR-Four All-Wheel Drive is front-wheel biased and can send up to 70% of power to the rear axle, under IDEAL conditions, given certain pressure and temperature values monitored by its onboard computer.

Another notable spec is the fact that - while the GR Corolla is very mechanically similar to the GR Yaris - the GR Corolla gets a whopping 26.3psi of maximum turbo boost, which makes it an absolute hoot to drive.

How does the 2023 Toyota GR Corolla drive?

The GR Corolla is an absolute blast to drive, the turbo-charged 3-cylinder has peak power at 6500RPM, while peak torque kicks in between 3000-5500RPM, which makes it a car you have to really wring the neck of to get maximum performance, which is SO MUCH FUN.

We launched it 0-100km/h and it clocked in at 5.88 seconds, substantially faster than a manual i30N, thanks to the extra traction gained through the GR-Four AWD system. Toyota claims you will be able to get it down to 5 seconds, which is totally believable if we weren’t both sitting in the car with a bunch of camera gear and Matt at the wheel…

Around town, it is actually a surprisingly easy car to drive, with an easy clutch and smooth gearing, and a slightly softer suspension tune, which I will come back to later, as this car doesn’t have any kind of adaptive dampers. Safety-wise, it is fantastic for a manual car, with adaptive cruise control that doesn’t cut off when changing gears, which works well in traffic.

Let’s get one thing straight, this doesn’t feel like an AWD Hot Hatch. It has the driving characteristics of a front-wheel drive, with the added traction of the GR-Four system sending up to 70% of power to the rear wheels, as well as the assistance of the front and rear Torsen Limited-slip differentials. It feels extremely planted, despite having a bit more body roll than competitors like the Hyundai i30N which has an adaptive suspension system that is tuned quite a bit stiffer than the GR Corolla. I really like the inclusion of “Intelligent Manual Transmission”, which is essentially rev-matching.

Going back to that trick GR-Four AWD system - I want to stress that the power only goes to the rear wheels under IDEAL conditions, so don’t think that you will be power oversteering around every corner just because you switch to the 30:70 front/rear power split. I do like how GR gives you the option to change the driving characteristics on the fly though, and I found myself using the “Track” mode, which sends 50% of power to the front and rear, the most out of all of them.

It may seem like I am negative about the driving ability of the car, but this couldn’t be further from the truth, I REALLY like the way this thing drives, I just want to set realistic expectations for the capabilities of the new GR-Four setup. Overall, this is a very ‘daily’-able Hot Hatch, verging on Super Hatch performance, that looks awesome, drives on rails with a really fun 6-speed manual, and a crazy tuned turbo 3-cylinder that will evoke the inner hoon of even the most refined car enthusiasts. Incredible work from the team at Gazoo Racing, which is what we have come to expect from them.

Is the 2023 Toyota GR Corolla Safe?

The 2023 Toyota GR Corolla comes with the following safety features and technology as standard:

  • Autonomous Emergency Braking
  • Front and rear parking sensors with Reversing camera
  • Blind-spot monitoring
  • Adaptive Cruise Control
  • Lane departure warning
  • Lane centering assist
  • Front and rear collision detection including pedestrian and (daytime) cyclist detection
  • Rear cross-traffic alert
  • Intersection assist
  • Speed sign detection
  • Automatic high beam

It does not yet have an official ANCAP safety certification, though the Toyota Corolla Hatch has previously received a 5-star ANCAP safety rating.

How much does the 2023 Toyota GR Corolla cost to service?

Toyota Australia provides a five-year unlimited km warranty for all new cars, and while we don’t have official figures on servicing costs, the mechanically similar (almost completely identical) GR Yaris requires servicing every six months or 10,000km, whichever comes first, with capped price servicing for the first six visits at $260 per visit.

Final thoughts - should you buy the 2023 Toyota GR Corolla?

If you are a purist car enthusiast that likes the Hot Hatch segment, I would struggle to recommend a better car in terms of mechanical feel and driving satisfaction. That being said, we did do a comparison against the i30N and it came shockingly close in a few categories, despite the fact that the GR Corolla is around $10k more expensive.

There is also the caveat that it will be close to impossible to lock in an order of one of these, with Toyota only allocating 700 cars to Australia, and pre-orders already filled. If you have the money though, and can get your hands on one, you will have an extremely capable Hot Hatch that you can drive to and from your next track day.

Saucey score breakdown

Maintenance Costs and Warranty
Fuel (or EV) Efficiency
Interior Design and Features
Value for Money
Technology and Innovation
Is it fit-for-purpose?
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Jacob Brooke
Jacob Brooke, a respected voice in the world of automotive journalism, brings a wealth of knowledge and insights to his reviews at CarSauce. His keen eye for detail and passion for all things cars shine through in his in-depth analysis and honest evaluations of the latest models of cars. Join him as he guides readers through the car-buying process and explores the exciting world of motoring.
Car specs

220kW + 370Nm

$62,300 + on-roads

8.4L/100km (claimed)

No ANCAP Rating yet

Buy a Car!
No Obligations, Hassle Free.

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