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Tuesday, December 06, 2022

Setting Up a Toyota GR Corolla: What Can the Aftermarket for the Latest Hot Hatch Do?

The 2023 Toyota GR Corolla (GRC) has been officially unveiled and the car media is buzzing with excitement. Like, straight-pipe Mazda 12A rotating levels of buzzery. This neat hatch’s debut made me think: what will after-market adjustability look like?

Although it will take some time before driving impressions hit the press, all indications are that this hot ‘Rolla’ is a lot of fun: four-wheel drive that can send as much as 70% of the power backwards (so, drive -in state) , 300 horsepower for a 1.6-liter inline-3 (as Kristen Lee points out, more horsepower per liter than a dang Bugatti), 6-speed manual transmission alone, and a relatively low curb weight of 3,249 pounds, all wrapped up in a sporty package with appearance to die for.

But there’s another sign that the GRC will be a lot of fun to drive: it’s built next to the GR Yaris (GRY) in Toyota’s GR Factory in Motomachi, Japan, and shares exactly the same engine and drivetrain (albeit it with more power). Our comrades in car media around the world have said tremendously good things about the GRY’s fun factor, including our very own Lewin Day.

All of this made me quite curious. If the two cars share the same engine and drivetrain, and many of the specifications seem to match their respective press materials, on what can we confidently hedge about the CRC’s aftermarket potential? In particular, what kind of aftermarket parts will make it brake harder and handle sharper? With a bit of detective work and some photos I took at the GRC debut event, here are some great possibilities.

Stop Power

GRY judges and owners have reported that its stock brakes are very good from the factory. “The brakes are also predictably giant-killing in their stopping power.” James Dennison pointed out for Which car? Australia. “Four-pot front and two at the rear, the former’s disc size is – believe it or not – larger than the Toyota Supra’s.”

After a quick scan of the forums, owners also shared positive impressions. It sounds like they hold up well in fun driving scenarios, but for serious track work, aftermarket cushions seem to be recommended as they will handle heat better and have better modulation and feel.

Does this mean that the GRC will have similar features, as well as after-market cushions already available for the GRY? With the comparison of media assets and photos I took last night, things look good. It’s a little hard to see, but the Corolla looks like the same four-piston calipers and two-piece rotors at the front, and two-piston calipers with ventilated one-piece rotors at the rear. My colleague Chris Rosales also pointed out that according to Toyota staff, the GR Corolla has 14-inch rotors at the front and 11-inch units at the rear, which conform to the GRY specifications of the above graphics. If the GRY’s lightest trim weight of 2,821 pounds is taken into account, it’s 428 pounds less than the current known GRC rim mass of 3,281 pounds, so it’s unclear whether there will be a difference in the factory cushion composition between the two to compensate for this.

Note: fortunately the GRC 32 has more horsepower to compensate for this extra weight.

Suspension

At present, the differences in suspension design and setting between the GRC and GRY are unclear. It’s too early to tell if they share the same springs, damper setting and swing rods, as the Corolla was built on Toyota’s populated Global Architecture-C (GR-C) platform, and the GRY was built on a modified Global Architecture- B (GR-B) platform with the back of the GR-C.

Then there is the obvious weight difference and the fact that the current, non-GR Corolla hatchback has a large range of aftermarket suspension goods available in the US. Like the GRY elsewhere in the world.

From personal experience, platforms that are shared between different models, or even different makes, such as my Mazda 2 and the Ford Fiesta ST, usually mean that the suspension can just swap well. However, it is a one-way street: ideally, only the suspension of the heavier Fiesta ST should go on a lighter Mazda 2, as suspension clamped to the Mazda 2 may not be able to accommodate the additional weight of the Fiesta ST, and therefore can blow easier, drive not so well, and so on. Conversely, when the Mazda 2 suspension clicks for more weight, it means a slightly stiffer ride, and presumably more parts’ lifespan.

On top of that, the GRY is a special case because it is tailor-made as a homologated rally car. But still, you would think there are some similarities due to manufacturing side by side in the same factory.

Or, none of this matters at first and only the suspension of the non-GR Corolla hatchback swaps to its hotter brother or sister! Still, it’s all good food for thought, and I’m sure we’ll get more clarity on both brake and suspension specifications in the coming months. Hopefully Toyota coordinates with SEMA as with the GR86 and offers a measurement session for the aftermarket and media to find out all about it.

Do you have a tip? Send us a note: [email protected]

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