The much-anticipated Toyota GR Corolla may be set to adopt an automatic gearbox later in its life cycle – though its launch, and what form it will take are yet to be confirmed.
The hotly-anticipated 2022 Toyota GR Corolla could become the first Toyota Gazoo Racing-developed hot hatch to offer the option of an automatic transmission, according to an overseas report.
Reputable Japanese magazine Best Car claims the upcoming GR Corolla – rumoured to arrive by the end of this year – will launch with a six-speed manual transmission borrowed from the GR Yaris; but that an automatic transmission could follow two years later (suggesting mid-2024).
While Best Car says that the decision to add an automatic “is still in flux” and seemingly yet to be locked in, a two-pedal gearbox would be necessary should Toyota target the latest breed of all-wheel-drive, automatic-only hot hatches, led by the Volkswagen Golf R (though a manual is still available in the US).
However, it’s not clear what form the automatic would take, and whether it would adopt a continuously-variable (CVT) design, a traditional torque converter, or a pair of clutches.
The Golf R – along with more premium Mercedes-AMG and Audi rivals, and the front-wheel-drive Renault Megane RS and Hyundai i30 N – all use dual-clutch automatic transmissions (DCTs) with six, seven or eight speeds, however Toyota has never sold a vehicle with a dual-clutch gearbox.
While the fitment of a DCT shouldn’t be ruled out, Toyota traditionally sources transmissions for its vehicles from Japanese firm Aisin, of which the car giant owns 24.8 per cent – and this company is yet to produce a twin-clutch transmission for any global manufacturer.
As a result, it’s more likely one of Aisin’s torque converter automatic gearboxes will be used, possibly the eight-speed unit used in larger, front-wheel-drive Toyota vehicles – as well as the BMW M135i xDrive hot hatch, in which it’s bolted to a turbo-petrol engine and all-wheel drive, much like the upcoming GR Corolla.
Alternatively, Toyota could simply opt for an upgraded version of the continuously-variable transmission (CVT) in the standard Corolla hatch, which offers a physical first gear and 10 pre-programmed ‘ratios’ intended to simulate traditional gears.
Either way, the mystery automatic transmission would be bolted to the same engine and driveline as the GR Corolla’s six-speed manual: a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol three-cylinder and a GR-Four all-wheel-drive system, with three modes sending up to 70 per cent of the power to the rear axle.
While the 1.6-litre engine is shared with the hot Yaris, the latest rumours (including Best Car) suggest the GR Corolla will increase outputs to 221kW and 370Nm, up over the 200kW/370Nm GR Yaris, and up on power (but down on torque) versus the recently-revealed 200kW/390Nm GRMN Yaris.
Unlike the bespoke GR Yaris, the new GR Corolla is expected to retain the standard Corolla’s basic five-door shell – though it’s expected to be 20mm wider and 10mm lower than run-of-the-mill models. The GR Yaris hatch’s Torsen limited-slip front and rear differentials are also expected.
The six-speed manual 2022 Toyota GR Corolla is expected to go on sale in overseas markets (including Japan) by the end of this year – with Australian availability yet to be announced.
Prices in Japan are rumoured to start from four million Japanese yen ($AU48,000) – on par with the smaller GR Yaris, which costs $49,500 before on-road costs in Australia.
Best Car says an automatic transmission may not arrive until 2024 – around the time that the next-generation Toyota Corolla is expected to go on sale (using the life cycles of past Corollas as a guide), suggesting the two-pedal GR Corolla may only be on sale for a few months before it’s replaced by a brand-new model.
Alex Misoyannis has been writing about cars since 2017, when he started his own website, Redline. He contributed for Drive in 2018, before joining CarAdvice in 2019, becoming a regular contributing journalist within the news team in 2020. Cars have played a central role throughout Alex’s life, from flicking through car magazines as a young age, to growing up around performance vehicles in a car-loving family.