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Sunday Drive: 2024 Toyota GR Corolla – Unleashing a mini monster on the roads

By Craig and Deanne Conover - Daily Herald | May 4, 2024
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The all-new 2024 Toyota GR Corolla.
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Inside the all-new 2024 Toyota GR Corolla.
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The all-new 2024 Toyota GR Corolla.
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The digital driver's display inside the all-new 2024 Toyota GR Corolla.
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The all-new 2024 Toyota GR Corolla.
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Under the hood of the all-new 2024 Toyota GR Corolla.

Having the opportunity to get into the Toyota GR Corolla has become a memorable experience for us, no matter what time of year or where in the country it happens. Craig had his first chance in the GR about 18 months ago in Southern California, which, of course, is the perfect place to test out a "hot hatch," and he was able to do it in the limited edition Morizo.

It was so "hot" that Toyota chose it as the debut model and only produced 200 of them, coming fully loaded and aimed as a track car edition. There was no back seat included, leaving room to take spare tires to the track, and it eliminated extra weight. He and his sister Marci had a glorious four days cruising around SoCal, garnering many adoring looks and compliments along that way.

That being said, the 2024 Toyota GR Corolla is not your typical Corolla. It's a "hot hatch" that defies expectations by blending performance, design and technology in a compact package. During our weeklong test drive, we had the opportunity once again to experience this fiery little car firsthand, and it even came it red. So, buckle up as we dive into the details of the 2024 GR Corolla.

Performance and powertrain

Under the hood lies a turbocharged three-cylinder engine. Yes, that's right, a three-cylinder motor is the epicenter of all the fun! This little powerhouse churns out an impressive 300 horsepower, translating to an unimaginably high 185.4 horsepower per liter -- more than its GR Yaris European sibling -- with 273 pound feet of torque to power this little gem through even the tightest of courses.

The engine's power peak comes high in the rev range, which we found made for an exhilarating ride every time we got behind the wheel. The six-speed manual transmission ensures that the driver remains full control and kept reminding us we were one with the road, making every gear change a joy.

GR-Four all-wheel drive

The GR Corolla features Toyota's GR-Four all-wheel drive system. With three power settings to adjust the distribution between front and rear wheels, it provides confidence-inspiring traction.

This system can be adjusted to a front/rear torque distribution of 60:40 for everyday driving, a 30:70 distribution giving the GR a fun-to-drive competency on winding roads and, of course, a 50:50 setting allowing for maximum grip when on the track!

Add the available front and rear Torsen limited-slip differentials, and we found it hard to beat the grip that the GR had wherever our week found us exploring. Toyota had even added Blizzak tires just in case there may be some snow involved with our week in early spring. Of course, Mother Nature was quick to add some of the fluffy white stuff to our world for a morning commute! The GR handled it all easily and with ease.

Handling and suspension

We loved the fact that Toyota's engineers had tuned the suspension to perfection. The GR circuit-tuned suspension delivered incredible handling ability, allowing us to attack corners with precision. Whether we were carving through city streets or maybe even adding some excitement to some scenic backways, the GR Corolla always felt planted and responsive whatever the driving conditions may have presented.

Exterior design

Many people take the word Corolla and immediately connect it to a vehicle that is affordable and lower-end perhaps. This is not what we have found to be the case with the GR version of the Corolla. Sporty and aggressive, the GR Corolla turned heads wherever we decided to take it; again, a testament to the fantastic design.

Key exterior features included:

  • LED headlights: Sharp and focused as they illuminated our way.
  • Functional ducts: Not just for show -- these enhanced the aerodynamics.
  • Triple-tip exhaust: A visual statement of performance; one for each cylinder, of course.
  • Gloss black rear spoiler: Is functional and adds downforce and style.
  • Forged carbon-fiber roof: Lightweight and race inspired.
  • 18-inch forged BBS wheels: Wrapped in grippy rubber -- winter Blizzaks in our case.

Interior comfort and tech

We found the inside of the GR Corolla to be a balance of sportiness and practicality:

  • Front sports seats: Fabric sport seat with a GR headrest.
  • 60:40 split fold-down rear seats: Versatility for cargo or passengers.
  • Automatic climate control: Keeping us cool during spirited drives.
  • 8-inch touch screen: Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.
  • 12.3-inch digital multi-information display: Performance data at your fingertips.
  • Toyota connected services: Remote connect, safety features, Wi-Fi and more.

Verdict

The 2024 Toyota GR Corolla is right up there contending for the top in the sport-compact hatchbacks division. Yes, it's produced in limited numbers, but the performance, handling and sheer fun make it well worth the hunt. If you're ready to unleash a mini monster on the roads, the GR Corolla awaits.

Remember, this isn't by any stretch of the imagination your grandma's Corolla -- it's a heart-racing speed demon in disguise! So, grab the manual shifter, engage GR mode and let your GR adventure begin!

Base price: $35,900

Destination charge: $1,095

Price as driven: $36,659

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