The Impreza WRX earned a lot of street cred as a rally car in the WRC circuit, with its iconic blue livery and legendary drivers like Colin McRae, Richard Burns, and Petter Solberg. But it’s been 14 years since Subaru has even participated in the WRC, and a new rally car is here to take the crown. While Subaru has been cashing in on a reputation it built decades ago, Toyota has been designing new cars, racing, and winning––and the result is the 2023 Toyota GR Corolla.
Toyota’s history in rally dates back just as long as Subaru’s. In fact, in 1993, Toyota was the first Japanese company to win a WRC Constructors Championship, stealing the show with the Celica GT-Four. In the last four years, Toyota’s Gazoo Racing WRC team has picked up two more Constructors Championships and three Drivers Championships. Now that rally legacy has come to the streets of America with the GR Corolla.
A Real Rally Car
It seems that AWD performance cars are everywhere these days, but the GR Corolla uses a purpose-built rally drivetrain designed to provide incredible traction and driver control. The GR-Four system is always active, giving drivers the option of a 60/40, 50/50, or 30/70 torque split, similar to the driver-controlled center differential of the Subaru WRX STI. Add the available Performance Package, and the GR Corolla also gets front and rear Torsen limited-slip differentials, leaving the WRX in its dust on slippery surfaces.
Under the lightweight aluminum hood of Toyota’s rally car is a turbocharged three-cylinder engine producing an even 300 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque. For those of you still keeping score, that’s 29 horsepower and 15 lb-ft of torque more than the 2.4L four-cylinder in the larger WRX. Even better, the GR Corolla comes with a standard 6-speed manual transmission that includes auto-rev matching for perfect downshifts during high-speed driving.
Even the smaller elements of the 2023 GR Corolla display the attention to detail that has given Toyota’s Gazoo Racing its recent rally wins. Fixed four-piston calipers on 14-inch ventilated and slotted rotors give racecar level braking performance, real fender vents and rear diffuser improve aerodynamics, and the standard Michelin Pilot Sport 4S performance tires maximize grip. Opt for the Circuit Edition, and you will even get a forged carbon roof to cut weight and reduce the center of gravity.
Toyota Is Knocking It Out of the Park
In the last few years, Toyota has single-handedly revived the affordable performance car segment. The GR86 and GR Supra resurrected legends for the modern era, giving drivers traditional sports cars. But with the 2023 GR Corolla, Toyota is creating a new legend, born from Gazoo Racing’s success in WRC and drivers like Ott Tanak and Sebastien Ogier. While Subaru has rested on its laurels for years, Toyota has forged ahead, and the GR Corolla is the new king of the street-going rally car segment.