The much-anticipated Toyota GR Corolla may be set to adopt an automatic gearbox later in its life cycle – though its launch, and what form it will take are yet to be confirmed.
The hotly-anticipated 2022 Toyota GR Corolla could become the first Toyota Gazoo Racing-developed hot hatch to offer the option of an automatic transmission, according to an overseas report.
Reputable Japanese magazine Best Car claims the upcoming GR Corolla – rumoured to arrive by the end of this year – will launch with a six-speed manual transmission borrowed from the GR Yaris; but that an automatic transmission could follow two years later (suggesting mid-2024).
While Best Car says that the decision to add an automatic “is still in flux” and seemingly yet to be locked in, a two-pedal gearbox would be necessary should Toyota target the latest breed of all-wheel-drive, automatic-only hot hatches, led by the Volkswagen Golf R (though a manual is still available in the US).
However, it’s not clear what form the automatic would take, and whether it would adopt a continuously-variable (CVT) design, a traditional torque converter, or a pair of clutches.
The Golf R – along with more premium Mercedes-AMG and Audi rivals, and the front-wheel-drive Renault Megane RS and Hyundai i30 N – all use dual-clutch automatic transmissions (DCTs) with six, seven or eight speeds, however Toyota has never sold a vehicle with a dual-clutch gearbox.
While the fitment of a DCT shouldn’t be ruled out, Toyota traditionally sources transmissions for its vehicles from Japanese firm Aisin, of which the car giant owns 24.8 per cent – and this company is yet to produce a twin-clutch transmission for any global manufacturer.
As a result, it’s more likely one of Aisin’s torque converter automatic gearboxes will be used, possibly the eight-speed unit used in larger, front-wheel-drive Toyota vehicles – as well as the BMW M135i xDrive hot hatch, in which it’s bolted to a turbo-petrol engine and all-wheel drive, much like the upcoming GR Corolla.
Alternatively, Toyota could simply opt for an upgraded version of the continuously-variable transmission (CVT) in the standard Corolla hatch, which offers a physical first gear and 10 pre-programmed ‘ratios’ intended to simulate traditional gears.
Either way, the mystery automatic transmission would be bolted to the same engine and driveline as the GR Corolla’s six-speed manual: a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol three-cylinder and a GR-Four all-wheel-drive system, with three modes sending up to 70 per cent of the power to the rear axle.
While the engine is shared with the hot Yaris, the latest rumours (including Best Car) suggest the GR Corolla will increase outputs to 221kW and 370Nm, up over the 200kW/390Nm GR Yaris, and up on power (but down on torque) versus the recently-revealed 200kW/390Nm GRMN Yaris.
Unlike the bespoke GR Yaris, the new GR Corolla is expected to retain the standard Corolla’s basic five-door shell – though it’s expected to be 20mm wider and 10mm lower than run-of-the-mill models. The GR Yaris hatch’s Torsen limited-slip front and rear differentials are also expected.
The six-speed manual 2022 Toyota GR Corolla is expected to go on sale in overseas markets (including Japan) by the end of this year – with Australian availability yet to be announced.
Prices in Japan are rumoured to start from four million Japanese yen ($AU48,000) – on par with the smaller GR Yaris, which costs $49,500 before on-road costs in Australia.
Best Car says an automatic transmission may not arrive until 2024 – around the time that the next-generation Toyota Corolla is expected to go on sale (using the life cycles of past Corollas as a guide), suggesting the two-pedal GR Corolla may only be on sale for a few months before it’s replaced by a brand-new model.
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