Toyota GR Corolla vs Volkswagen Golf R 

Toyota GR Corolla vs Volkswagen Golf R 

A mega battle between two of the world’s largest carmakers is about to go down in South Africa. In one corner you have the new Toyota GR Corolla and in the other, the Volkswagen Golf 8 R. Which one of these hatchbacks will win the fight? Let’s square them up! 

South African hot-hatch enthusiasts are in for a treat as 2 formidable performance hatchbacks are due to arrive in this second quarter of 2023. 

First up, is the Volkswagen Golf 8 R. Yes, it’s been a painfully long wait but Volkswagen’s range-topping Golf is due to go on sale very soon (April 2023)! We have tested the VW Golf R on local soil.

Toyota is stepping up to the plate to take the fight to the Golf 8 R and the Japanese firm recently confirmed that its beefed-up GR Corolla will be offered in South Africa in limited numbers in the second quarter of 2023. 

This ultimately means that these potent hot-hatchbacks will meet on the tar for a showdown but how do they compare on paper and how do they differ? 

While we have yet to sample the new GR Corolla on local soil, we will have to reserve judgment on its performance delivery and handling ability. Nonetheless, this comparison will give you a good idea of how these vehicles stack up against each other in terms of on-paper performance and key interior features. Note that pricing details for both cars have yet to be confirmed. 

This article will be updated as soon as more details are confirmed, so stay tuned!   

Toyota GR Corolla vs Volkswagen Golf R 

Engine, Performance and Efficiency 

Toyota GR Corolla  Volkswagen Golf 8 R 
Powertrain 1.6-litre, 3-cylinder, turbopetrol  2.0-litre, 4-cylinder turbopetrol 
Power 224 kW @ 6 500 rpm 235 kW @ 5 350 rpm
Torque  370 Nm @ 3 000 – 5 500 rpm 400 Nm @ 2 100 – 5 350 rpm
Transmission 6-speed manual, AWD 7-speed dual-clutch, AWD
Fuel consumption (Claimed) TBC 7.8 L/100km
Zero to 100kph  5. 0 secs  4.8 secs
Top Speed  230 kph 250 kph
Kerb weight 1 475 kg 1 476 kg 

Performance Prediction

The Volkswagen Golf R looks to be stronger on paper but both cars are quite evenly matched. The 2023 Toyota GR Corolla employs an uprated iteration of the 3-cylinder, 1.6-litre turbopetrol engine that powers the GR Yaris and as was proven in the GR Yaris, this powertrain shouldn’t be underestimated by any means. 

The GR Corolla, with less engine displacement minus 1 cylinder compared to its Golf R rival will undoubtedly have its work cut out. Both cars feature all-wheel-drive but a key difference is that the Corolla GR will be offered exclusively with a 6-speed manual which means that the driver will have to initiate perfect shifts to get the most out of the powertrain while the driver in the Golf 8 R will enjoy the convenience of a fast-shifting dual-clutch transmission.    

The GR Corolla employs an electronic multi-plate clutch all-wheel-drive system capable of quickly shuffling drive between the front and rear axles and the selectable AWD system allows for 60:40, 50:50 and 30:70 front-to-rear torque split settings, depending on the driver’s preference.    

The Golf 8 R’s 4Motion all-wheel-drive system offers R-Performance Torque Vectoring which is linked to the Vehicle Dynamics Manager (VDM), electronic centre and rear differential and Adaptive Chassis Control to deliver precise and agile dynamic handling ability.

We think that the Volkswagen Golf R will have an edge over the Toyota GR Corolla but we can’t wait to line both of these cars up on the drag strip! Which car do you think will win? 

Interior Comparison

Note that the GR Toyota Corolla is offered in 3 trim levels namely, Core Grade, Circuit Edition in range-topping Morizo Edition guise. We suspect that Toyota South Africa will introduce the Circuit Edition locally and we have therefore included this derivative in the comparison table below to give you a more accurate indication of what to expect. 

Toyota GR Corolla Volkswagen Golf 8 R 
Infotainment system Yes, 8.0-inch  Yes, 10-inch
Digital instrument cluster Yes, 12.3-inch Yes, 10.25-inch
Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth, voice control, USB, wireless charging Yes to all, 2 x USB ports  Yes to all, 2 x USB-C ports
Sound System JBL, 8 speakers Harmon Kardon (optional)
Rear View Camera Yes, with parking lines Yes, with guidelines
Cruise Control Yes, adaptive Yes, adaptive
Air Conditioning Yes, single-zone climate control Yes, 3-zone climate control
Panoramic Sunroof No Yes
Front and rear park distance control TBC Yes
Upholstery / electric seats Suede/leather combination, 6-way adjustable driver seat, heated seats. Heated leather steering wheel.  Nappa leather heated sport seats, heated leather steering wheel 
Safety Features 10 airbags, ABS with EBD, Brake Assist, Electronic Stability Control with Traction Control, pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist, blind spot alert, rear-cross traffic alert, tyre pressure warning system, road sign assist 9 airbags, ABS with EBD, Brake Assist, Electronic Stability Control with Traction Control, Parallel Park Assist, blind spot monitor, rear traffic alert, lane keep assist, travel assist, tyre pressure monitoring system
Load Capacity  TBC  341 – 1 200 litres
Seat Configuration  60:40 split  60:40 split

Interior execution 

The GR Corolla’s interior execution follows from the Corolla hatchback but adds numerous sporty details such as aluminium sport pedals, GR badging on the headrest and steering wheel, red stitching/seat inserts and a GR-themed instrument cluster.  

Comparatively, the Volkswagen Golf 8 R’s cabin exudes more of a tech feel but is no less impressive in catering to the driver’s needs. However, the Golf 8 R’s capacitive touchpads and sliders on the steering wheel and centre console are not very user-friendly and the infotainment system does take a fair degree of familiarisation to get used to. 

See our full review of the Volkswagen Golf 8 R here! 

Based on the above comparison, what would you rather want to own, the new Toyota GR Corolla or the new Volkswagen Golf 8 R? 

We will update this article as soon as pricing and other details are revealed. 

Buy a Toyota Corolla on 

Buy a Volkswagen Golf on 

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