When it comes to hybrid technology, Toyota is the leader of the pack. For 2023, Toyota’s top-selling Corolla gets four hybrid models, refreshed styling and more safety features including all-wheel drive. And for the first time, the Corolla Cross, the subcompact crossover based on the Corolla sedan, also goes green with a hybrid option. But Toyota isn’t only banking on hybrids – it also introduced a powerful, new GR Corolla Morizo edition hatchback and a limited-edition GR86 sports car for 2023 at Toyota Motor North America’s headquarters in Plano, Texas on Wednesday.
Amid the hybrid and performance debuts, the showstopper is the 2023 GR86 Special Edition sports car, which follows in the footsteps of the second-generation GR86, introduced for 2022. The “GR” stands for Gazoo Racing, which is Toyota’s motorsports and performance division – the labels given to vehicles built for driving enthusiasts.
Decked out in a colour dubbed Solar Shift orange, it’s impossible-to-miss amid the other Toyota vehicles. With its long hood, low profile, forged matte-black 18-inch alloy wheels, black C-pillar graphic accents and GR Special Edition badges plastered on the exterior and interior, it’s clear this is no ordinary sports car.
When it came to performance, the second-generation GR86 upped the ante with its new 2.4-litre engine – it has nearly 11 per cent more horsepower and 18 per cent more torque than the first-generation’s 2.0-litre engine. The 2.4-litre engine delivers 228 horsepower (23 more than previous model) and 184 lb-ft of torque (28 more than the last version). As a result, the time it takes to spring to 100 kilomtres an hour has dropped to 6.3 seconds from 7.2 with the six-speed manual transmission and 6.8 from 8.2 with the six-speed automatic. Engineers shaved weight by including a resin fuel-filler door, lightweight front seat frames, and redesigned electric power-steering. The GR86 SE weighs in at just 1,275 kilograms for the manual and 1,293 kilograms for the automatic.
If you want a GR86 Special Edition, act fast – only 20 are up for grabs in Canada. You might have better luck getting your hands on another limited-edition GR model – the rally-inspired all-wheel-drive GR Corolla Morizo Edition hatchback. At least, 200 units will be available during the launch year in 2023.
This track-oriented version of GR Corolla has an ultra-lightweight, two-seater design and exclusive features including a close gear ratio transmission, shorter differential gears, forged wheels, stiffened chassis and front brake ducts. Powering it is a 1.6-litre, three-cylinder engine, which delivers 300 horsepower and 295 lb.-ft. of torque – that’s more than its siblings 273 lb-ft of torque. A carbon fibre roof, no rear seats, no rear door speakers and no rear wiper blade help save weight, bringing it in at only 1,445 kilograms.
For those who don’t want a souped-up Corolla, there are more fuel-efficient models for 2023. The Corolla lineup includes four hybrid models with a more powerful hybrid system and available all-wheel drive. It pairs a 1.8-litre, four-cylinder gas engine with two electric motors via a continuously variable transmission. The hybrid system also includes a newly developed lithium-ion battery that’s now located under the rear seat to lower the centre of gravity and maximize cargo capacity.
The first-ever 2023 Corolla Cross Hybrid all-wheel drive SUV gets Toyota’s new fifth-generation hybrid system, which is estimated to average 6.4 litres per 100 kilometres combined fuel consumption. It also boasts a number of innovative tech features including wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, added USB-C charge ports, over-the-air updates and a voice-activated intelligent assistant to help you search for directions or change the temperature by simply saying, “Hey Toyota.” The Corolla Cross Hybrid will be built at the Mazda Toyota Manufacturing plant in Huntsville, Alabama – a brand new facility that will have the capacity to roll out up to 150,000 Corolla Cross vehicles per year.
Prices aren’t available for the GR or Corolla models, yet. But they’re expected to arrive in Toyota dealerships later this year.