Welcome to the Hooniverse News! As always, this is a weekly recap of the biggest stories in the automotive industry without the fluff or bull. This week: Toyota stuns with GR Corolla and it’s headed stateside, Ford promises more affordable off-road performance with F-150 Rattler, Toyota is preparing a one-make GR86 Cup for North America, plus your news for the week.
2023 Toyota GR Corolla
This isn’t April Fools. It’s really happening.
After more than a year of watching our friends in Europe and Japan play with the rad hot hatch that is the GR Yaris knowing full well it would never cross an ocean to get to us, we’re finally getting some of that magic here. But instead of a three-door Yaris, it’s the five-door Corolla that serves as the foundation for what should be the car with the highest added dealer markup to MSRP ratio out of anything. A lot of what makes the GR Corolla such a promising hot hatch should be familiar to anyone who dreamed of a GR Yaris. But don’t expect it to be just as fast as the GR Yaris… it’s actually faster.
The powertrain and drivetrain are about the same as what debuted in the GR Yaris, but turned up a few clicks. Power comes from the same G16E-GTS turbocharged 1.6L three-cylinder engine but it’s considerably more potent. Power output is 300 horsepower and 273 lb.-ft. of torque, as much as 32 horsepower more than the GR Yaris (whose power figures vary depending on the market). Take that, Europe. Part of the reason for the increase in power is improved exhaust efficiency thanks to a 3-piece muffler which reduces backpressure. As for why they spread those three exhaust tips out so far from each other…. I don’t know. Meanwhile, that potent engine is paired exclusively with an “intelligent” six-speed manual transmission. It earns that name with built-in rev-matching and a system that probably judges you for all those redline clutch dumps you do.
A crucial component of what made the GR Yaris so great is its rally-inspired AWD system. That carries over into the GR Corolla as well and offers exceptional traction and control while also being simple and lightweight. In fact it’s more than just “rally-inspired” – it was developed in collaboration with Toyota Gazoo Racing’s World Rally Team and honed by WRC drivers. At the twist of a dial in the cockpit, the GR-FOUR system can adjust its torque split to three different values while leaving room for some automatic adjustment as the car’s computers see fit.
A 60:40 distribution sets a more FWD-biased setup for daily driving duties. It can then go the other way for sportier and spirited driving at a 30:70 split. This is what Chris Harris and YouTube car reviewers who think they’re Chris Harris will be using when they drift it for b-roll shots. Those who prefer maximum stability can set it to a pure 50:50 distribution for fast, competitive “track” driving on circuits or special stages (AKA your favorite road when no one is looking). If you opt for the Performance Package or the GR Corolla Circuit Edition, you’ll also get front and rear Torsen Limited-Slip Differentials assist with side-to-side torque distribution for even greater cornering performance. 4WD open diffs are standard.
The upgrades to the GR Corolla aren’t just mechanical either. A highly rigid body was constructed specifically for the car with more weld points in the frame to strengthen joints and extensive use of structural adhesive. Making good use of that extra rigidity is a competent suspension setup. It features a MacPherson-type strut design up front and a double-wishbone multilink rear setup which have been specially tuned for this AWD application. That mechanical grip is channeled to the pavement through Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires sized 235/40R18 on all four corners. Stopping power comes from 14″ front and 11.7″ rear ventilated and slotted rotors with 4-piston front and 2-piston rear aluminum calipers. These are painted red on Circuit Edition cars which is good for about 6% better stopping power.
The GR Corolla’s exterior doesn’t just look badass, it’s also lighter. The hood and front door panels are made of aluminum and a forged carbon sheet molding compound is used for the roof panel on Circuit Edition cars. Its 18″ wheels are made from cast alloy as well. The impact this has on weight is noticeable. Despite the AWD system and all the additional hardware thrown in the GR Corolla, it weighs just 3,249 pounds – only 189 pounds heavier than a standard Corolla Hatchback with FWD.
There’s of course aerodynamic reasons for the aggressive body styling. Much like a rally car, the shaping of the front and rear canards and lower rockers efficiently channel airflow down the sides of the car. Aerodynamic performance is further optimized by the car’s nose ascending to a tapering roof line so that air gets directed straight to the rear spoiler. Hood, fender, and rear bumper ducts improve stability while a flat underfloor reduces drag and adds downforce.
There is a lot more to talk about but I’ll sum up some final points with this: Toyota GR just gets it. As if everything I’ve already mentioned doesn’t prove that, some of the final touches they added prove it further. The standard Corolla has an electric parking brake – the GR Corolla has a mechanical pull-type parking brake. Extra attention was given to the shifter so that it’s positioned perfectly and naturally and is light with short shift strokes. Anyone could just throw in a manual and say they made it for the enthusiasts when it’s really not anything special (glares at the Ford Mustang).
And even though the Circuit Edition is the top-of-the-line car with all the extra aero pieces and the carbon roof and the front and rear Torsen LSDs as standard, you can still get those on the cheaper GR Corolla Core Grade when you add the Performance Package. In fact you can get the same Technology Package and Cold Weather Package from the Circuit Edition as well so you can choose exactly what kind of ownership experience you want from the car. Sadly you may not be able to choose exactly what color you want because it’s only available in white, red, and black or “Heavy Metal” depending on the spec.
Toyota has changed dramatically in the last decade. They went being one of those companies known for all that cool stuff they used to make in the 80s and 90s to being one of those companies making cool stuff right now. Toyota in 2012 was showing signs of life with the 86/FRS and the Lexus LFA. Who could’ve guessed that they would one day be one of just a handful of brands carrying the torch for driving enthusiasts. And making a damn 300 horsepower Corolla.
Pricing has not been announced yet. It’s likely to start at around $40,000 or higher and that’s being conservative. The Circuit Edition as shown in gray will be a first model year exclusive. The 2023 GR Corolla will go on sale later this year.
2023 Ford F-150 Rattler
Ford has no shortage of options for buyers looking to go off the beaten path, or at least look like they’re ready to go there. From the Bronco Sport all the way to the Bronco Raptor, all skill levels and price points are represented. But as it pertains to the F-150, there was still a gap. There’s the Tremor and of course the Raptor, but those start at $52,235 and $68,675 respectively. But soon there will be a third option – the F-150 Rattler.
Designed as an entry-level addition for those seeking adventure, the F-150 Rattler is built on the XL trim and fitted with FX4 off-road features. Skid plates, hill descent control, off-road shocks, electronic rear-locking differential, and all-terrain tires give it greater off-road capability. Maybe not as much as the Tremor, but it should still be good enough to get someone out of a sticky situation.
You’ll be paying for the extra capability and basically nothing else. There’s no fancy technology suite, plush leather, or giant chrome bumpers here. It’s built on an XL specification so it looks like one, but you do get dual exhaust, painted 18″ aluminum wheels, and special Rattler badging and graphics. The interior features Onyx seats with burnished bronze accents and stitching on the seats and instrument panel. There’s just enough here to create a unique, desert-themed look but not enough that you’re paying a bunch more for looks alone.
Speaking of pay, MSRP for the F-150 Rattler has not been disclosed yet. And even though the Rattler is not on the configurator yet, building a similar-ish XL shows a price of around $45k. With the way Ford packaged the Rattler it might be a bit less. It would almost have to be, because just $7k more gets you in a much better-equipped Tremor. The Rattler goes on sale this fall so we’ll know more soon.
Toyota GR Cup is coming soon
Around the same time as the GR Corolla launched, Toyota also revealed a new single-make racing series coming soon to the US. It’ll be using race-prepped GR86s and launches next year with further details arriving this summer.
Similar to how Porsche has run a 911 GT3 Cup for decades, the Toyota GR Cup will use identical GR86s but with some freedom to tweak the setup to cater to a driver. Over the course of the seven race championship, Toyota engineers will get to collect data and use this track time to improve other Toyotas down the road. This series aims to “reinforce and validate the track inspired engineering bred into every Toyota GR vehicle”. And I’m sure the drivers will find a way to enjoy it too.
More info on the series and the car they’re preparing for it will be available sometime this summer.
What’s your automotive news?
That’s all I’ve got for you this week, so now it’s your turn. If you saw anything, fixed something, broke everything, or otherwise did anything even remotely car related that you want to share with your fellow hoon, sound off in the comments.
Have a good weekend.