Toyota USA has cleverly teased the upcoming GR Corolla hot hatch on its Instagram account.
It published a photo of the standard Corolla hatchback’s interior that appears innocuous at first, but upon closer inspection features several clues.
Perhaps the most obvious is a blurry, camouflaged vehicle in the distance that’s almost certainly a GR Corolla prototype. It’s still just far enough away that you’d be forgiven for missing it.
Look at the Corolla’s dashboard and you’ll find subtler hints.
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The only numbers visible on the climate control display, for example, are 2 6 8 – the horsepower rating of the GR Yaris, from which the GR Corolla is expected to borrow its turbocharged 1.6-litre three-cylinder engine.
Another hint to the engine can be found in the instrument cluster, where a readout displays G:16. The GR Yaris’ engine is called the G16E-GTS.
Look at the navigation display and you can see the Corolla is parked near a road called GR Four, referencing the GR Yaris’ four-wheel drive system.
The GR Corolla is expected to debut in the second half of 2022.
It’ll finally give American buyers a hot hatch option – they don’t receive the GR Yaris – but will likely be offered in other markets, too.
We’d be surprised if it didn’t come here, given Toyota’s high-profile push of the Gazoo Racing sub-brand Down Under, which included sharp introductory offers for the GR Yaris.
A trademark filing for the GR Corolla was already filed in Australia in 2020, alongside one for the C-HR GR Sport which ended up being introduced locally.
The GR Yaris’ three-pot is tuned to deliver 200kW of power and 370Nm of torque, with a 220kW output expected for the GR Corolla.
All of this is put to the road through a six-speed manual transmission and a sophisticated four-wheel drive system that can send 70 per cent of its torque to the rear axle.
The pint-sized pocket rocket shares very little with the namesake Yaris – the rear half of its platform, for example, is borrowed from the Corolla’s GA-C architecture, while externally only its headlights, tail lights and mirrors are shared with the regular Yaris.
The GR Yaris’ close relation to the Corolla makes a GR Corolla a logical next step for Toyota’s Gazoo Racing brand, and will give it a rival to the likes of the redesigned Honda Civic Type R.
It’s unclear if an automatic transmission is planned. Rival hot hatches like the Ford Focus ST, Hyundai i30 N, Renault Megane RS Trophy 300 and Volkswagen Golf GTI and R all offer one, as does Toyota’s current 86 coupe and its upcoming GR86 successor.
The Civic Type R is expected to remain manual-only, however.
Even with only an extra 20kW over a GR Yaris and an unchanged torque figure, a GR Corolla would still stack up well in the small hot hatch segment.
A Golf GTI puts out 180kW and 370Nm, while an i30 N produces 206kW and 392Nm, a Megane RS Trophy 300 produces 221kW and 420Nm and a Focus ST 206kW and 420Nm.
As with the GR Yaris, we expect to see enhancements like grippier front seats, a bespoke suspension tune and bigger brakes.
While the GR Corolla may share more of its body with the regular Corolla than the GR Yaris does with the regular Yaris, we still expect a raft of aesthetic changes like bigger wheels and more aggressive bumpers.
The GR Yaris was followed by the GR Yaris Rallye, which packed a different suspension tune, front and rear locking differentials and 18-inch forged BBS alloy wheels in Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres.
It’s unclear if the GR Corolla range will also feature a ‘regular’ and a more hardcore, track-optimised version.
MORE: Everything Toyota Corolla