Perhaps the most exciting of the five GR-branded cars that UMW Toyota Motor (UMWT) is launching today is the Toyota GR Corolla. Three of the cars are variants of existing model and one is a new generation (GR86), but the GR Corolla is a new product, a hot hatch wearing a badge that not many will think of when they think performance – Corolla.

But this mean-looking five-door C-segment hatchback has plenty of performance and is priced at RM355,000. Under that bulging vented hood is a 1.6 litre turbocharged engine with 300 PS and 370 Nm of torque made between 3,000 and 5,550 rpm. 0-100 km/h is done in 5.3 seconds and top speed is 230 km/h.

It’s the same G16E-GTS three-pot found in the smaller GR Yaris – already the most powerful three-cylinder in production – but here, it makes 39 PS and 10 Nm more than our European-spec GR Yaris, “to provide equally high levels of performance with the larger model”. The engine features D-4S port and direct injection, as well as a single-scroll turbo integrated with the exhaust manifold.

Like the GR Yaris, the hottest of Corollas is also equipped with a six-speed manual transmission (with a rev-matching function) and the GR-Four all-wheel-drive system. The driver can choose from three drive modes and three AWD modes. A Torsen limited-slip differential on the front and rear axles control drive to the 18-inch black Enkei multi-spoke wheels, which are wrapped with 235/40 Yokohama Advan Apex tyres.

The GR Corolla – which by the way is not a limited production model like the GR Yaris – is based on the Corolla five-door hatchback, which in stock form is already more sporty than our market’s sedan. Now it looks like a beast, thanks to widened fender flares (track widened by 60 mm in front and 85 mm at the back), a bare carbon fibre roof, functional bonnet vents and that super wide mouth of a grille.

At the back, there’s a big spoiler and a unique triple exhaust layout. Unlike the Civic Type R’s three pipes in the middle, Toyota employs two round ones on the sides plus one central oval tip. By the way, the GR Corolla weighs nearly 200 kg more than the GR Yaris at 1,475 kg, due to the larger body and the three-door car’s more extreme dieting – that’s why more power is needed.

Inside, some of the good stuff like the seats and steering wheel are familiar from the GR Yaris. But while the smaller hatch gets traditional analogue dials, the Corolla presents info via a 12.3-inch screen supplemented by a head-up display. The digital meter has a GR start-up animation, and there are also GR logos on the steering and seats.

GR bits done, we move on to the Corolla part. There’s a 9.0-inch touchscreen head unit with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, dual-zone climate control, a wireless charger and keyless entry and start are all standard. Seven airbags and the full Toyota Safety Sense suite of driver assist tech – using a monocular camera and radar – are included. Local kit fitted by UMWT include a telematics system (car tracker), dashcam and solar/security film.

There are four colours – Precious Metal (grey), Super White, Emotional Red and Black. Yes, just Black. Once again, the CBU Japan Toyota GR Corolla is priced at RM355,000 on the road before insurance. So, this or the FL5 Civic Type R?

GALLERY: 2023 Toyota GR Corolla live pics

GALLERY: 2023 Toyota GR Corolla official pics