Reliable made racy: Toyota Corolla Altis GR-S

Reliable made racy: Toyota Corolla Altis GR-S

“What’s your ultimate one-car garage?”

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • How much is the Toyota Corolla Altis GR-S?

    The Corolla Altis GR-S retails for P1.302 million. A White Pearl paint option adds P15,000 to the car's price.
  • What Gazoo Racing-Sport (GR-S) additions are found in the Corolla Altis GR-S?

    Compared to the standard Altis, the Corolla Altis GR-S wears sportier exterior body kit and GR-branded leather seats and floor mats. The GR-S model is also said to pack sports suspension.
  • A question often passed around among gearheads, it posits that you choose a vehicle that can fulfill your need for speed while, at the same time, work as your daily driver, grocery getter, and road trip transport.

    Among our candidates for the ultimate one-car garage is the Toyota GR Corolla. After all, this Corolla combines the 1.6-liter turbo engine and rally-derived all-wheel drive from the GR Yaris, with a practical cargo space and family-friendly backseats afforded its five-door hatchback body. And, of course, the GR Corolla should be as dependable as any other Toyota.

    But the thing is, this hot hatch is only available in the US market. So, if we Southeast Asians want to park a sporty Corolla in our one-car garages, the next best thing we have is the Corolla Altis GR-S. It’s essentially a Corolla Altis with added Gazoo Racing-Sport bits and pieces that take inspiration from Toyota’s motorsports division. The Corolla Altis GR-S is among the latest GR-S models that Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) has quietly introduced to the market (alongside the Corolla Cross GR-S shortly before the launch of the Rush GR-S).

    And so while the perennially reliable Corolla Altis has been made racy with the GR-S treatment, can it really work as the only car you’ll ever need?

    Pricing and key features

    Retailing for P1.302 million, the 2022 Toyota Corolla Altis GR-S represents the middle child of the compact sedan family, sitting above the E and G variants and below the Altis 1.8 Hybrid. The Corolla Altis GR-S takes several features from the former and latter variants, such as the 1.6-liter engine from the entry-level models, and power leather seats and Toyota Safety Sense technologies from the hybrid car.

    2022 Toyota Corolla Altis GR-S

    But as mentioned, what you really get with this model is its GR-S styling package — which we’ll now detail below.

    Exterior

    How does the 2022 Toyota Corolla Altis GR-S appear unique against its stablemates? The first answer is staring at you right in the face. Compared to its lesser siblings, the Corolla Altis GR-S fascia looks angrier, thanks to a wider and more sharply shaped air dam, which houses LED fog lights. Sitting above this is a black grille that flows to the full LED headlights. To create the illusion of a wider stance, there are triangular faux air dams on either side of the bumper, whose lower edges have been extended to mimic a front apron.

    Moving on to the sides of the 2022 Corolla Altis GR-S, we notice that the GR-S additions here are subtle compared to the bold changes to the front end. To spot an Altis GR-S, look at the model’s side skirts, 17-inch alloy wheels that are blacked-out versions of the Altis Hybrid’s wheels, and black side mirror housings.

    2022 Toyota Corolla Altis GR-S

    The subtle design theme continues out back, with the Altis GR-S showing its sporty look only with its rear apron with diffuser and GR-Sport badge on the trunk lid.

    While these design additions make the 2022 Corolla Altis GR-S look special and sporty well enough — especially against the optional White Pearl paint job that adds P15,000 to the model’s SRP — we feel that Toyota could’ve added more. An inch-bigger wheels, a rear ducktail spoiler like the one found in the Vios GR-S, and door handles and rear bar connecting the full LED rear lights in black instead of chrome, could’ve spiced up the styling package.

    But then again, what you already get in the Altis GR-S are original, designer items from Toyota – all of which will make this model a rarity as time goes by, we predict.

    Interior

    Part of the GR-S styling package are the black leather seats with red stitching inside the 2022 Corolla Altis GR-S. The driver and passenger perches, in particular, sport GR logos embossed on their headrests, and side bolsters that hold bodies in place as the car is thrown spiritedly around bends. Despite the sporty feel of the seats, their suppleness means your back, bum, and legs are always well supported.

    What also adds to the sporty and comfortable driving environment is the car’s tilt and telescopic tiller, which ensures that even those with long arms can reach the steering wheel with their arms at a 90-degree angle.

    The rear seats of the 2022 Corolla Altis GR-S also get the same leather and bolster treatment, and offer the similar comfort levels as those of the front seats. Rear passengers are treated to aircon vents and a center armrest, but sadly, a USB charging port is missing back here.

    2022 Toyota Corolla Altis GR-S

    2022 Toyota Corolla Altis GR-S

    Elsewhere in the cabin, the toys you get in the Altis GR-S are similar to what the Altis Hybrid offers. Among these is smart entry with push button start (with a GR logo on the button for this model), electronic parking brake, single-zone automatic climate control, eight-inch infotainment with (rather perplexing to use) phone-mirroring function through Miracast, and six speakers.

    Another interior quality the Corolla Altis GR-S shares with the rest of the range is a spacious cabin, offering generous head-, leg-, and shoulder room all throughout. Behind this cabin is an equally roomy trunk with 471 liters of space, which can be expanded by folding the 60:40 rear seats.

    Amid all the GR-S sporting intentions, this is a family-friendly Corolla through and through. 

    Driving impressions

    There’s little in the way of technical improvements in the 2022 Corolla Altis GR-S, but its performance won’t disappoint.

    The Corolla Altis GR-S is powered by a 1.6-liter gasoline engine with 121hp and 153Nm of torque. Even with no turbo in sight amid its popularity, the Altis GR-S mill still provides pace that’s brisk enough — even when the CVT the engine is paired with is left to its own devices, and especially when you shift to manual mode and keep the revs high using the paddle shifters.

    Sure, to maximize the power of the Altis GR-S’ engine you’d have to time your gear shifts properly and keep the revs above 4,000rpm, but we think this is all part of the car’s appeal. Besides, the engine relishes being revved anyway, and this is being a boy-racer car, you have to wring its neck for its sporting intentions to shine.

    2022 Toyota Corolla Altis GR-S

    The Corolla Altis GR-S sports suspension — which could very well be the sole technical upgrade found in this special edition, is said to possess firmer damping — adds to the car’s boy-racer feel. The body of the Corolla Altis GR-S barely leans during spirited cornering, while pitching and and diving are kept in check during aggressive braking or accelerating. This stable ride is matched with steering that’s not exactly overflowing with feedback, but more than makes up for it with a well-weighted feel.

    And even as you throw this car around, it won’t tire you out, thanks to its excellent levels of NVH. There’s barely any wind- or road noise entering the cabin; engine roar is only noticeable when you push the throttle near or on the floor itself.

    So, with its swift pace, good cornering ability, and hushed cabin, the Corolla Altis GR-S is shaping up to be a fine sole driver — which is helped by the car’s easy-on-fuel nature. As we drove the Altis GR-S in a languid manner with the occasional hustling, the car registered 8kpl. Laid-back city driving yielded 9kpl, while highway runs 12 to 14kpl.

    2022 Toyota Corolla Altis GR-S

     

    Verdict

    Like any other GR-S model in the local Toyota lineup, the Corolla Altis GR-S makes its sporty side more apparent in appearance than in performance. While those a bit more style-conscious might think the car could benefit from some exterior tweaks, this Corolla, as it stands, is already distinct. Like we said, the car’s GR-S goodies will make the car an even more special one in the future.

    So, for its road presence and mild-mannered driving character, the Toyota Corolla Altis GR-S is one car we’d happily drive 365, it being not as extraordinary as its turbo hatchback counterpart notwithstanding. The Altis GR-S remains as the dependable and practical Corolla we’re familiar with.

    2022 Toyota Corolla Altis GR-S

    Photos from Dylan Afuang

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