Toyota turns up heat on GR Corolla hot hatch with souped-up Morizo edition

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TOKYO — Toyota Motor Corp. is turning up the heat on its newest hot hatch.

A special Morizo edition of the recently unveiled all-wheel-drive GR Corolla will let you burn rubber just like Akio Toyoda, the Japanese carmaker’s president and “master driver.”

The GR Corolla Morizo Edition takes its name from Toyoda’s racetrack alias and packs dialed up torque, a slimmed down curb weight and an optimized gear ratio for souped-up performance.

Toyota unveiled the car Wednesday, just days before Toyoda himself climbs behind the wheel of a modified hydrogen-burning Corolla as “Morizo” in a 24-hour endurance race at Fuji Speedway.

Toyoda had a big hand in testing and vetting his new namesake gasoline edition, which will go on sale this winter in Japan and be available on U.S. dealer lots next year as a 2023 model.

The Morizo edition will be limited to a 200-unit production run in the first year. It will be made at the so-called GR Factory in Toyota’s Motomachi assembly plant, a boutique small-batch operation where select workers essentially hand-build performance cars.

The GR Corolla Morizo edition expands on the GR Corolla announced this spring and shares the same 300-hp 1.6-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine.

But Toyota bumped up torque to 295 pound-feet, from 273 pound-feet and took out nearly 100 pounds of weight — partly by removing the rear seats and rear wiper blade for a bit of extra racing cred.

A forged carbon fiber roof helps shed more mass.

It also gets increased rigidity with two additional strut braces and two braces spanning the rear cabin. The performance version has no less than 349 additional weld points and nearly 20 feet of extra structural tape, compared with the standard Corolla hatchback.

The awd system gets a Torsen limited-slip differential to improve cornering and grip.

Wider tires help it stick to the pavement, and the Morizo edition spices up the experience with a tweaked set of gear ratios that helps drivers snap through all six speeds of the stick shift.

Exterior design flourishes — including wide front and rear fender flares, a hood bulge and red trim detailing — complete the rally-ready look that helps set the Morizo entry apart.

“This track-oriented version of GR Corolla was designed to meet specifications desired by Toyoda himself, with tight handling, a high power-to-weight ratio and a highly rigid body,” Toyota said. It’s a Corolla, the company said, “that can carry only one name: GR Corolla Morizo Edition.”

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