After decades of being the brand known for sensible, inoffensive motoring—as spearheaded by models like the Camry and Prius—Toyota has been going through a bit of a reinvention as of late. The brand’s roots in motorsport date back to the early 1970s with their rally efforts, and recently the company has been keen to recapture some of that racing spirit.
The first evidence came by way of its joint partnership with Subaru to develop the Scion FR-S (later known as the Toyota 86, and now, in its second generation, the GR86) as well as its more recent collaboration with BMW to produce the Supra and its Bavarian counterpart, the Z4. Now, after building the sensational GR Yaris the gearheads at Toyota’s performance-focused Gazoo Racing division have turned their attention to the Corolla, and the result is something that’s a far cry from the staid machine that we’ve come to associate with the name.
Lowered, widened, boosted, and packing a sophisticated all-wheel drive system to go along with a raft of other performance features, the GR Corolla is a nod to Toyota’s glory days in the World Rally Championship, and it takes square aim at hot hatches like the Honda Civic Type R and Volkswagen Golf R. To celebrate its introduction, Toyota also introduced two special-edition models: The Circuit Edition—which includes performance hardware that’s optional on the Core base model as well as a forged carbon roof, heat extractors on the hood, and some aesthetic upgrades—and this, the Morizo Edition.
Limited to just 200 units worldwide for 2023 (and perhaps ever) and named after the pseudonym that former Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda uses when he goes racing, the Morizo Edition is the most hardcore, track-tuned GR Corolla of the bunch. Although it might not be the ideal choice for every would-be GR Corolla buyer out there, we’re happy to report that, on the right road, it is definitely one hell of a good time.
Since the Morizo Edition stems from the GR Corolla Core, we should probably first explain how the Core differs from a garden-variety Corolla.
As the aggressive bodywork suggests, the engineering differences are fairly dramatic. Up front there’s a unique grille with massive intakes to feed the turbocharged engine and to aid with cooling, while bulged fenders widen the car by 2.4 inches (61 mm) in order to create the space needed to fit wider wheels and tires. A front splitter and rear spoiler are also on hand to improve the car’s aerodynamic stability, while the hood and front door panels are made from aluminum to reduce weight. The Corolla’s platform has also been stiffened thanks to additional weld points and structural adhesive.
The majority of these upgrades were necessitated by the turbocharged 1.6 L three-cylinder power plant that’s nestled in the GR Corolla’s engine bay. The plucky mill dishes out an impressive 300 hp (224 kW) and 273 lb-ft (370 Nm) of torque in the Core and Circuit trims, while the Morizo Edition gets a bump in torque to 295 lb-ft (400 Nm) thanks to some software tweaks. All GR Corollas use a six-speed manual transmission with automatic rev-matching, and they send torque to all four wheels through a new all-wheel drive system that can deliver a 60:40, 30:70, or 50:50 front-to-rear torque split, depending on the mode selected.
To ensure that the GR Corolla’s reflexes can keep up with the newfound power, the suspension consists of MacPherson struts at the nose of the car and a double wishbone setup out back, along with performance-tuned springs, dampers, and stabilizer bars. And when it comes time to rein things in, four-piston calipers with 14-inch (356 mm) ventilated discs are installed up front, while two-piston units with 11.7-inch (297 mm) ventilated discs are outfitted at the rear.