Toyota's incoming performance heroes, the GR Corolla and Wagon, are set to launch sooner than expected, and with a focus on road comfort over rally ability, according to fresh reports out of Japan.
While we initially thought Toyota's the Hyundai i30 N, VW Golf GTI and Honda Civic Type R rivals would launch in 2023, Japanese media is now pointing to a mid-2022 launch for the pair (at least in their home market), with more development details beginning to take shape.
For one, the 2022 timing is down to the fact the vehicles aren't being developed by Toyota, but by its in-house performance team (Gazoo Racing), with both the hands-on nature of the engine and chassis builds, and the popularity of the GR Yaris, ensuring slow progress for new models.
We do know, however, the GR Corolla - and so likely its Wagon sibling - will use the same 1.6-litre turbocharged three-cylinder engine - good for 200kW and 370Nm - that powers the GR Yaris. It will get also GR-FOUR 4WD, weight-saving body panels and Toyota's TNGA platform as standard, as well as the option of LSDs.
"It’s wasting time to use a four-wheel drive system and this 1.6-litre engine (for one car). Personally, I’d like to use this powertrain for each of the other (GR) models," Toyota Yaris GR's chief engineer, Naohiko Saito, told us at that car's launch in Portugal.
But while the GR Yaris is designed with rally in mind, Gazoo Racing's engineers will reportedly focus more on on-road dynamics this time around. At play is the more practical, family-friendly nature of the Corolla and Wagon, and so Toyota is reportedly keen to broaden the appeal by making it more comfortable.
While the changes won't impact engine outputs, they will reportedly impact chassis and suspension tuning, with the Corolla twins set be a more compliant and comfortable ride.
The GR Corolla is said to be about 10mm lower and 20mm wider than its more sedate sibling, and will be a five-door hatchback with all the practicality perks the body shape brings.
We also know that the GR Corolla is pretty much a sure-starter for Australia, with the brand having already trademarked the name here, and pointed to the obvious market for hot hatches Down Under.
A Corolla hot hatch would be a sure starter for Australia, with Toyota saying it "knows that there is a market" for a fire-breathing Subaru WRX rival.
"If the bussegment, we’d just need to make the numbers stack up.iness case stacks up, then for sure," a Toyota spokesperson told CarsGuide. "We know that there is a market for performance hatches in that segment, we’d just need to make the numbers stack up."
The Wagon? That remains more of a mystery. But with reports that the brand is considering reviving its GT-FOUR badge for the long-bodied GR model, we'd love to see it here, too.