What's the news?
We've been promised that there will be a proper, speedy hot hatch version of the new Toyota Corolla, but this isn't it. This is the Corolla GR Sport, which is basically a standard new Corolla wearing funky sneakers and running shorts.
The GR Sport gets no mechanical changes, so you can choose from the existing 1.8- or 2.0-litre hybrid models. It's all about styling changes. So, just as the Volkswagen Golf R-Line or Ford Focus ST-Line pack sporty body kits onto regular mechanicals, so the Corolla GR Sport gets a new grille with dark chrome finish and unique lower skirts, side sills and rear diffuser. There are also bespoke 18-inch machined alloy wheels, rear privacy glass, fog lamps, LED headlamps and a dedicated exterior colour called Dynamic Grey with bi-tone roof. Inside, there are sport seats in black fabric with leather-like bolsters (full leather is an option), and you get black and red stitching on the instrument panel, steering wheel and gear lever.
Those hoping for stiffer suspension or a wilder engine tune will be left disappointed, as the Corolla GR Sport follows the same template as the already-launched Yaris GR Sport - sporty on top, sensible underneath.
As with ST-Line and R-Line, though, the idea here is the promote Toyota's Gazoo Racing brand as a proper rival to the likes of Ford's RS and even, eventually, Mercedes-AMG. At the top of the Gazoo pyramid are the Le Mans team, the rally team and specialist models such as the new GR Supra sports car. Then come properly sporty road cars, such as the brilliant little Yaris GRMN and then, beneath all that, come models such as this, which wear sporty clothes but aren't proper sporting models.
If you're still hoping for a proper Corolla hot hatch, be patient. Rumour has it that Toyota is working on just that - a GRMN version that will ditch the hybrid system and instead use a highly-strung 1.6-litre turbo engine. Can't wait for that...