Toyota a brand known nowadays for mostly making sensible hybrid family hatchbacks are starting to re venture towards their sporty heritage with their GR trim level cars. I got my hands on their latest GR sport model the Corolla GR Sport for seven days and here are my thoughts.
2.0L turbocharged & hybrid assisted inline 4 petrol
Let's get straight to the point, the GR Sport is in no way a performance variant of any kind but a trim level. Much like Ford's ST-line or Renaults R.S. line it offers more sporty looks and some small extras here and there. The GR Sport trim on the Corolla gives you more aggressive front and rear bumpers, sporty seats, adaptive suspension and 3 extra set up modes (Sport, Sport+, and Custom) This was the first Toyota I had ever driven so I went in open minded and wasn't left disappointed, built quality felt premium with a 'leather' wrapped dashboard and wheel, nice comfy adjustable and supportive seats but also a butt load of tech like wireless charging, self parallel and reverse parking, adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist which was a nice thing to have on a longer motorway journey I done with the car.
The Corolla GR Sport, although only a trim level does have some sportier additions as mentioned above like adaptive suspension over a normal Toyota Corolla, but does it drive sporty? Yes... to an extent. For a sub 200hp fwd hatchback it was quite fun and even confidence inspiring to drive on twisty roads like we encountered on our day-trip to the Belgian Ardennes but as you'd expect from a car like this it was still quite numb but its not really meant to be an engaging canyon carving super-hatch but more of a city to city highway cruiser. Talking of highway cruising there's not really much to say... it does that as you'd expect very well with the adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist keeping you safe when it could. The lane keep assist is good but not great, its really there as an assist than a preventative keeping you between the lines on the straights but often loosing the lines on mild corners. Of course you can't completely take your hands of the wheel as after a 10ish second window the car will ask you to place your hands back on if it doesn't feel any resistance which means you still have to be paying attention at all times. A function I really quite liked was the stop and go cruise control, especially in bumper to bumper traffic the car would come to a complete stop and by the push of a button carry on following the car in front.
Something that really did annoy me personally was the distance the adaptive cruise control held at motorway speeds but especially how early it started breaking for slower approaching vehicles, I often found myself doing 90-100 in a 120 because a truck or car 100m down the road was driving at these speeds.
I'll often say that the 150hp to 200hp range is the sweet spot when it comes to everyday performance and thats the case here again. Now hear me out, of course 450hp would be nice its just not practical in the rear world.
180hp is enough to get you out of sticky situations, enough to get in that gap, pass a tractor swiftly and safely, but not too much where you will lose your licence and end up in jail for the rest of your life because you put you foot down for more than 3 seconds.
The 2.0 Hybrid setup although not super torquey still pulled away from most situations with ease and was enough to help with overtaking and passing on smaller rural roads. It's a quite efficient engine at cruising speed but it does develop a severe drinking problem when you put your foot down or decide to have any form of fun with the car
My final gripe with the Corolla GR Sport was for me quite a let down and really surprised me when I discovered it but its a trade off you have to make for hybrid tech... I'm ofcourse talking about the boot space. It's tiny, With my camera box, 2 backpacks and a tripod the boot was pretty much full, its wide but not deep and where you'd expect it to be a double bottom it was really just a latch that held your spare tools and high-vis jackets. Final thoughts on the Toyota GR Sport Hybrid: Its a good car that covers all the basics really well, with its only real let down being its practicality when it comes to trunkspace. If you're in the market for a sporty, reliable high tech daily driver this might be the car for you.