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Hot Hatch

Opinion: we're not going to miss the GR Corolla in the UK

New 300bhp Corolla's got a good recipe, but the GR Yaris already ticks many of our small hot hatch boxes

Published: 04 Apr 2022

Last week Toyota revealed the new GR Corolla. And it all sounds like just the sort of hot hatch we keep banging on about: 4WD, 300bhp, manual gearbox, manual handbrake even. Just one thing. It’s not coming to the UK.

Arse, you’re thinking. Wrong. No matter how good it was, no-one here would have bought it. The GR Yaris we can get on board with, but the Corolla badge is heavy baggage. Plus there’s the fact it looks like it’s been dipped in the Demon Tweeks catalogue – but only up to the wheelarches. The rear one is a proper monstrosity. They obviously weren’t going to go in for metalwork changes, so they’ve just slapped a slab of plastic on the rear door. Do you remember when the Subaru Impreza was on its last legs and they threw the kitchen sink at it – the CS400, it was called? Heavy overtones of that in this.

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To me this looks like a sop to America. They didn’t get the GR Yaris so Toyota has shoved the running gear under the Corolla to stop the shouting. That powertrain is a proper riot in the GR Yaris, makes it feel almost overpowered, but the Corolla is 200kg heavier, only gains 43bhp and 16lb ft and I reckon it’ll feel like a small, feisty engine trying to punt along a more mature car. I’ll wait to be proved wrong.

What makes the GR Yaris so addictive (Chris Harris and I ran one jointly last year, and I still miss it almost every day) was that it was a dense ball of energy, a car that worked not only on B-roads but on back roads, the really small stuff. It’s unique. There’s nothing else out there like it, no-one else builds a car that is genuinely interdependent with its WRC version.

The Corolla would have come here with none of that kudos, just likely a price tag that undercut the Golf R and aimed for the same bit of ground as the Hyundai i30N and Honda Civic Type R. Yes, it has 4WD in addition, but the best Golf ain’t the R, it’s the front-drive GTI Clubsport. Still, the Yaris proved Toyota could build a belter, and I hope for America’s sake that the Corolla continues the trend.

Just one more thing. The rendered pictures. WTAF?

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