Compared: 2023 Toyota GR Corolla vs. 2023 Volkswagen Golf R

A new hot hatch with an old name takes on a German stalwart.

2023 Toyota GR Corolla vs 2023 Volkswagen Golf RToyota: 2023 GR Corolla | Volkswagen: 2022 Golf R

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Joining the Toyota lineup for the 2023 model year is the GR Corolla. That "GR" does some heavy lifting: It refers to Gazoo Racing, the tuning division that worked on the car, and distinguishes this model from the humdrum regular Corolla that serves as basic transportation for so many. Auto magazines will likely pit this car against the few remaining hot hatches on the market, including the rowdy yet well-equipped 2023 Volkswagen Golf R. For a look at how the two stack up in price, features, and fuel economy, read on.

Note: All vehicle pricing includes MSRP plus destination charges (set at the time of publication), and will be rounded to the nearest thousand.

2023 Toyota GR Corolla interiorToyota

2023 Toyota GR Corolla vs. 2023 Volkswagen Golf R: Price

Of the two, the Toyota is the bargain buy: Its $37,000 base price gets you a 300-hp turbocharged 1.6-liter three-cylinder engine, all-wheel drive, and a rev-matching six-speed manual transmission. You also receive a one-year membership to the National Auto Sport Association and admission to a high-performance driving experience, where you'll have the opportunity to learn how to get the most out of your car in a controlled environment. Toyota doesn't offer a ton of options here, but there is a limited-production track special at the top of the range: The $51,000 Morizo Edition ups engine torque from 273 lb-ft to 295, deletes the rear seats to save weight, and rolls on super-grippy Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires.

2023 VW Golf R interiorVolkswagen | 2022 Golf R

Coming in some nine grand higher than Toyota's base hot hatch, the $46,000 Volkswagen Golf R boasts a 315-hp 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder engine, all-wheel drive, and a six-speed manual that lacks throttle-blipping assistance. If you want a transmission that does the work for you, VW offers an automatic. It adds another gear to the mix and $800 to the outlay.

2023 Volkswagen Golf R profileVolkswagen | 2022 Golf R

2023 Toyota GR Corolla vs. 2023 Volkswagen Golf R: Features

Inside the entry-level GR Corolla, shoppers will find cloth seats, single-zone automatic climate control, an 8.0-inch touchscreen (supporting wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto) sticking out of the center stack, and a 12.3-inch display in front of the driver. Adaptive cruise control comes standard, as does forward-collision mitigation, automatic high-beams, blind-spot monitoring, and lane keeping, but you'll have to pay extra for heated seats and wireless charging.

Not so for the Golf R. It includes all those amenities, plus a few you won't find on the Toyota's menu, such as ventilated front seats, leather upholstery, and a head-up display. The VW's tech setup comprises a 10.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment (with wired smartphone mirroring) and a digital instrument panel. In addition, the HVAC system spans three zones.

2023 Toyota GR CorollaToyota

2023 Toyota GR Corolla vs. 2023 Volkswagen Golf R: Fuel Economy

The GR drinks premium and sees 24 mpg on the EPA's combined fuel-economy cycle. That's a far cry from what other Corollas achieve but on par with the Golf R's ratings. The manual-equipped VW sees 23 mpg, while the auto model returns 26. They, too, require fuel from the pricey pump

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Beth Nichols
After graduating from the University of Michigan, Beth Nichols stumbled into automotive journalism and found her footing, jumping between a few car magazines before going freelance. Her head, once full of useless facts about literature and art history, now holds useless facts about vehicles. She edits, checks, and occasionally creates content for Capital One, and though she understands it’s customary to write a bio in the third person, I don’t like it.