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Quick Review: 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross GR Sport - Just the balance buyers secretly needed

Sanjay ยท Feb 20, 2023 09:04 AM

Quick Review: 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross GR Sport - Just the balance buyers secretly needed 01

Commenters were very swift in asking for 'UMWT to bring in' the Toyota Corolla Cross GR Sport into Malaysia, when the eponymous model debuted in Taiwan. A couple of years since then, that wish is now true as it adds to our ever-expanding GR umbrella.

Quick Review: 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross GR Sport - Just the balance buyers secretly needed 02

The newly-launched GR/GR-S range in Malaysia. Headlined by the Hilux GR-S, GR Supra, GR Corolla, and GR86. Don't forget the Vios GR-S too

It's no 'full-GR' model โ€“ that's the race-bred GR Yaris, GR Corolla, GR86, and GR Supra's game โ€“ but the GR Sport line is meant to carry some of that genealogy to cars people like you and me drive to work.

Also read: Its name is not Supra, but Toyota GR Supra โ€“ What GR means for TRD?

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Quick Review: 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross GR Sport - Just the balance buyers secretly needed 01

So Toyota doesn't just slap on some stickers and call it day, these GR-S cars have actual improvements done to them.

Updated suspension, but is it 'better'?

Quick Review: 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross GR Sport - Just the balance buyers secretly needed 02

In the case of today's subject, there's three performance tweaks to note. The suspension is now stiffer, there's an additional brace in the centre of the chassis, and the electric power steering system benefits from a new 'sports' computer to boost response.

Quick Review: 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross GR Sport - Just the balance buyers secretly needed 03

The promise is that these upgrades enliven handling by reducing body roll and chassis flex, while adding sharper input.

Having driven it rather briefly on the roads surrounding Sepang International Circuit โ€“ big mix between smooth and spotty tarmac โ€“ we'd say the improvements are...not very drastic, but they're there.

Quick Review: 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross GR Sport - Just the balance buyers secretly needed 04

If you've driven the standard Corolla Cross before and found its comfort-oriented suspension a little too spongy for your tastes, then yes, you'd appreciate the GR-S treatment better. We'd say it's one way engineers polished the TNGA chassis' capabilities.

Also read: Toyota Corolla Altis' TNGA platform, what is it and does it make any difference?

Quick Review: 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross GR Sport - Just the balance buyers secretly needed 05

Tyres are Toyo CR1s (same like all other variants), with the same 225/50R18 profile

Quick Review: 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross GR Sport - Just the balance buyers secretly needed 06

It doesn't instantly make it the most acrobatic in class, but the extra feel you get involves you a bit more than the regular variants do. There's less body roll too; so some of that 'lumbering giant' feel has been sharpened, which we think spells for added confidence leaning into the turns.

Quick Review: 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross GR Sport - Just the balance buyers secretly needed 07

The trade off to the GR-S regimen are slight demerits to comfort. Firmer suspension equates to slightly more jitters inside, most noticable over patchy roads. But it's not adjustable-suspension levels of stiff, so if that was your concern, rest easy.

Quick Review: 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross GR Sport - Just the balance buyers secretly needed 08

Good ol' 2ZR-FE

That's where all big news are, really. Under the hood it's the same 139 PS and 172 Nm from the 1.8-litre NA four-cylinder (yup, not the hybrid, that doesn't get the GR-S treatment just yet), and there's no retouching of either the engine or the CVT automatic, which keeps 7 virtual ratios.

Also read: Review: 2020 Toyota Vios GR-Sport - The ride and handling champ in class

Quick Review: 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross GR Sport - Just the balance buyers secretly needed 09

Interior is the same, save for the black trim where it was once silver. Much prefer this to be quite honest

Quick Review: 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross GR Sport - Just the balance buyers secretly needed 10

On the outside you get a bespoke bodykit, new lights, exclusive dual tone paint, and fresh wheels. Inside you have darkened trims, GR-branded seats (they are still the fantastic leather items, just with a new skin), and a smattering of GR bits and bobs.

Quick Review: 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross GR Sport - Just the balance buyers secretly needed 11

Three colours only, all with black roof: Platinum White Pearl (RM 2,000), Nebula Blue, Red Mica Metallic (both RM 1,500)

Everything else is a carryover from the 1.8 V variant that serves as its base; yes that includes the foot brake, and the full array of Toyota Safety Sense (TSS) ADAS suite.

Verdict

Quick Review: 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross GR Sport - Just the balance buyers secretly needed 12

Where does it stand then? You'll be paying Hybrid prices โ€“ RM 142,000, which in itself is a circa RM 5k difference with the regular 1.8 V โ€“ so it's all up to what you want really.

There is no right or wrong answer to whichever.

Think of it this way. If you want a peak comfort, highly efficient SUV to drive you and yours around, then sure, spring for the Hybrid.

Also read: Review: Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid - Come on HR-V, give it your best shot

But if you want a little bit more balance to things โ€“ one that sits nicely between the model's famed comfort and its rivals' sportier disposition โ€“ then the Corolla Cross GR Sport is worth looking into.

Also read: Review: Toyota Corolla Cross 1.8 V - HR-V contender brings value to the masses, but the cabin...

Sanjay

Senior Writer

With humble beginnings collecting diecast models and spending hours virtually tuning dream cars on the computer, his love of cars has delightfully transformed into a career. Sanjay enjoys how the same passion for cars transcends boundaries and brings people together.

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