When it comes to our dedicated community of automotive enthusiasts there’s always a difference of opinions, but if there’s one thing we can all get behind on it’s our quest to save the manual transmission. That’s why we enlisted the help of Toyota Pro Driver Jhonnattan Castro to join our noble, manual-saving crusade on The Streets of Willow Springs International Raceway. There, he put on a master-class demonstration on one of the most well-respected lineups in the world of automotive performance—the Gazoo Racing family of Toyota street cars, a brand built by enthusiasts for enthusiasts.
Every family has its share of dynamic personalities, but the GR family doesn’t have a wallflower in the bunch. All three GR vehicles were developed by Toyota Gazoo Racing Engineers with their own unique characteristics, and each one punches way above its respective weight class. With the wild child GR Corolla, the powerfully built GR Supra, and the highly-competitive GR86 all on deck, we invited 40 racing fans to get behind the wheel and learn what makes the GR family so special.
With all three sports cars winning coveted spots on Car and Driver’s 2023 10Best Cars list and the GR Corolla in contention for Road & Track’s 2023 Performance Car of the Year award—choosing just one GR proves almost impossible. But it’s fun to try.
The Wild Child
The all-new GR Corolla may be the youngest of the clan, but it has no trouble keeping up with its older siblings. Taking lessons from a formidable motorsports heritage, this hot hatch has the duality to dominate on the smooth tarmac and dusty, dirt roads. It’s offered in three grades: Core, Circuit Edition, and a limited, track-focused MORIZO Edition that will all share the only available gearbox option—a 6-speed intelligent Manual Transmission (iMT) that’s powered by a turbocharged 1.6L inline-three delivering 300-horsepower and 273 lb.-ft. of torque. The MORIZO Edition is tuned with slight variation to produce 295 lb-ft. Accompanied by a GR-FOUR All-Wheel-Drive (AWD) system, torque distribution can be adjusted with the push of a button, culminating in rally-inspired engineering and handling that’s intended to effortlessly negotiate a variety of road conditions.
While the GR Supra was introduced in 2020, at the time it was only offered with an 8-speed automatic transmission. This year sees the addition of an optional 6-speed iMT built specifically to complement the output delivery of its turbocharged 3.0L straight-six engine that produces 382-horsepower and 368 lb.-ft. of torque. Not only is the iMT programmed with software that delivers a sportier driving feel, the GR Supra’s gear ratio, along with its ergonomically optimized shift knob, have been engineered to enhance engagement as the driver is rowing through the gears.
James Lipman|Car and Driver
The Competitive One
The GR86 is the epitome of a modern sports car. It is Castro’s weapon of choice as a four-time Dominican Republic Drift champion and Formula DRIFT competitor. Its naturally aspirated 2.4L flat-four boxer engine offers 228-horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. of torque alongside a 6-speed, paddle-shifted automatic with Dynamic Rev Management or a close-ratio, 6-speed manual transmission. We obviously prefer the latter. As if this quintessential coupe’s credentials aren’t enough, in 2023 Toyota will kick off the all-new GR Cup, a signature GR86 spec racing series for the United States. We are sure to see it draw more fans to the motorsports scene and play a larger role in the renaissance of racing.
And while Castro has over a decade of track time under his belt, it’s clear that practice makes perfect. That’s why every 2023 GR vehicle owner can hit the track with a complimentary 1-year National Auto Sport Association (NASA) membership. Among a host of benefits and access to NASA-sanctioned events, the package includes one High-Performance Driving Experience (HPDE) with one-on-one driving instruction. It’s here where GR owners will learn the fundamentals of racing and continue to hone the necessary skills to push their vehicle to the absolute limit, swiftly and safely.
Toyota’s GR family is perfectly timed and perfectly equipped to satisfy the next wave of automotive purists. As for our favorite GR vehicle? Parents will insist that they can’t choose a favorite, but we all know there always is one—so we’ll leave that tough call up to you.
Disclaimers:1) Never attempt. Stunts performed by professional drivers on closed course only for purposes of demonstrating vehicle capabilities. 2) Every 2023 GR Corolla, Supra, and 86 comes with a complimentary 1-year membership to the National Auto Sport Association (NASA). As part of this membership, GR vehicle owners will enjoy a host of benefits including one High-Performance Driving Experience (HPDE), one-on-one driving instruction from a NASA professional driver, and discounted admission to NASA-sanctioned events.