From the ultra-efficient Prius to the go-anywhere 4Runner and best-selling RAV4, a quick visit to your local Toyota dealer is bound to turn up any number of alluring options. That said, the 2024 GR Corolla Circuit Edition or 2024 GR86 Trueno Edition are easily two of their most tempting models for the coming model year, injecting a little curve-hugging, rubber-burning fun into the brand’s lineup. But what’s the story behind these two thrilling Toyota models?
It all starts with the Toyota Corolla. A modern automotive success story, this spunky compact is not only Toyota’s most successful model—with over 50 million units sold since 1966—it’s also one of the most popular nameplates in general, overtaking the iconic Volkswagen Beetle in 1997 to become the world’s best-selling vehicle. Much of the Corolla’s success can be credited to this compact’s unique fusion of affordability, safety, reliability, and athleticism. Arguably the original entry-level workhorse, the Corolla has spawned no shortage of imitators over the last fifty-plus years, even within the Toyota family. The Toyota GR Corolla is one such model.
While it might share a name with the popular compact, the Toyota GR Corolla is anything but ordinary. Developed in a collaboration between Toyota and its Gazoo Racing (GR) performance division, the GR Corolla transforms the dependable model into an all-out racing machine. The GR Corolla embodies the hot hatch spirit, upping the compact’s already impressive handling while throwing in a full slate of performance, tech, and appearance upgrades that make the GR Corolla easy to distinguish from its best-selling cousin.
Then there’s the Toyota GR86. Representing one-third of Toyota’s sports car lineup along with the GR Corolla and GR Supra, the GR86 certainly looks the part with a fastback coupé, rear-wheel drive design that just screams speed. Developed in collaboration with fellow Japanese automaker Subaru (which offers its own version of the GR86 under the BRZ name), the 86 gets the full GR treatment for 2024 with a limited Trueno Edition that’s bound to turn some heads when you’re navigating traffic.
Trueno is a nod to the 1984-1987 Corolla Sport GT-S liftback—also known as the Sprinter Trueno, or the AE86 in reference to its chassis code—which was one of the first performance-focused Corollas to hit the market. Popular amongst rally, circuit, and touring racers, the AE86’s real claim to fame was its association with Japanese “Drift King” Keiichi Tsuchiya.
The 2024 GR Corolla and GR86 Trueno Edition are both certainly worth a closer look—if you can find them. The GR Corolla Circuit Edition should be relatively easy to source, but the GR86 Trueno Edition is limited to just 860 units, which—while hurting accessibility—should go a long way in making this suped-up compact a valuable collector’s item. Let’s dive in and see how these two models differ in design, performance, and style and see which one will give drivers the best bang for their buck.
Affordability and performance are not usually two words to go together, but just leave it to Toyota to strike the perfect balance. The GR Corolla Circuit Edition will carry a price tag that’s right around $44,000, which is a relative bargain in the flashy segment. The GR86 Trueno Edition is an even better bargain, available for just $38,000. Those sorts of prices might have performance-minded drivers a little skeptical about what’s under the hood, but such worries are decidedly unfounded.
Let’s start with the 2024 GR Corolla, which packs a turbocharged three-cylinder engine with some 300 hp under the hood. Mated to a six-speed manual transmission, the GR Corolla’s powertrain has one neat trick up its sleeve in the GR-Four all-wheel drive system.
Common to all Toyota GR models, the GR-Four system gives drivers the ability to customize the power distribution to their liking. Want to drift around some corners? A 60/40 front-to-rear split is good for everyday driving, but adjusting it to 30/70 should make slip-sliding around the track easier than ever. Are you looking to set your personal best lap time? A 50/50 split is the ideal choice for racing, offering improved acceleration and allowing you to shave off crucial seconds.
The GR Corolla Circuit Edition ups the ante with rev-matching a front and rear limited-slip differential, which improves grip and traction when you need it most. All these stats combine to give the GR Corolla Circuit Edition a zero-to-sixty time of just 4.6 seconds and a zero-to-one-hundred of 11.4 seconds, placing it firmly above similar offerings from Honda and Volkswagen.
So, how does the GR86 stack up against the GR Corolla? This sports coupé lacks the Corolla’s turbocharger but makes up for it by adding an extra cylinder into the mix. The 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine is good for 228 hp, which—while lagging behind the GR Corolla—isn’t that bad when you consider the GR86 weighs a couple hundred pounds less (which also makes it one of the largest sports cars on the market).
With a zero-to-sixty time of 6.2 seconds, the GR86 might not have the GR Corolla’s lightning-fast acceleration, but it’s not about to get lapped anytime soon, either. The sports car comes with a six-speed manual transmission, but those looking to free up a hand can opt for a six-speed automatic for an extra charge.
The GR Corolla and GR86 are already bonafide performance machines in their own rights, but the addition of the Circuit and Trueno Editions takes that performance to the next level with the addition of some premium components. The most notable addition to the GR Corolla Circuit Edition would have to be the Torsen limited-slip differentials, which give the hot hatch untouchable cornering performance by precisely distributing torque across each side of the car. Fixed-caliper disc brakes with ventilated and slotted rotors and four-piston calipers do a great job of keeping the GR Corolla’s 300 horses in check, and they get a fresh coat of red paint and a GR logo for good measure.
Forged aluminum wheels measuring 18 inches aid in cornering while the Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires keep you firmly attached to the road, but it’s the aero panels, rear diffusers, and spoiler that really mark the GR Corolla as a performance model. Toyota engineers have redesigned even the smallest features in the name of improved performance, from the duct that funnels air from the front wheel wells to the back, the mountain bolt changes, and the aluminum sheeting under the wheel wells to improve stability.
Designed to pay homage to the original AE86, the GR86 Trueno Edition is mostly focused on appearance-related upgrades that ape the original ’80s racer, but Toyota has also addressed the performance end of the equation by throwing in a new performance package as a standard feature (and an optional add-on for the stock GR86). Ride comfort is put front and center with the addition of SACHS dampers, which use high-pressure nitrogen and oil to absorb every bump while prioritizing ground contact, steering, and on-road feedback.
The GR86 has long been praised for its responsive, precise ride, and the SACHS dampers help the sports car maintain that reputation while upping the comfort factor by a considerable margin. Brembo brakes round out the GR86’s performance upgrades, with four-piston front/two-piston rear calipers latching on to 12.8- and 12.4-inch rotors, respectively. That represents a one-inch upgrade over the stock GR86, making it easy for drivers to keep the powerful model in check.
A limited-edition model wouldn’t be complete without some bold new styling, and the GR Corolla Circuit Edition and GR86 Trueno Edition certainly don’t disappoint in that department. The GR Corolla Circuit Edition is decked out in two exclusive colors for 2024: Ice Cap and Blue Flame, which gives the hot hatch an electric new look.
The paint job is complemented by black forged aluminum 18-inch BBS wheels and black side rocker graphics bearing the GR-Four logo. The sports compact’s body remains largely unchanged from the standard GR Corolla, with a vented hood, sinister LED headlights, and a GR sport mesh gloss-black front grille with working brake ducts to keep everything nice and cool when the race starts to heat up. In addition to the aero elements—like the gloss-black spoiler and rear lower diffuser we mentioned earlier—the GR Corolla also features a triple exhaust that sets the souped-up hatchback apart from the base Corolla.
The interior sees a generous helping of high-end materials, from Brin Naub suede to synthetic leather-trimmed sport seats with blue accents that match the new Blue Flame hue. The same blue color is highlighted on the GR shift knob and accent stitching, tying the GR Corolla together in a handsome package that’s perfect for cruising in the city.
Unsurprisingly, the GR86 takes many of its design cues from the AE86 model it was designed to honor. Conceived as a modern interpretation of the original AE86, the GR86 Trueno Edition’s most noticeable feature might be its bold two-tone look. Drivers can choose between Track bRed/black or a Halo/black color scheme, with the latter conceived as a nod to a popular Japanese anime series that featured a white and black “Panda” Trueno.
The GR86 Trueno Edition is limited to just 860 units, with a number plate on the driver’s side dash distinguishing each model as a one-of-a-kind creation. The limited edition GR86 rounds out its exterior upgrades with a black-painted duckbill spoiler, Trueno badging on the front and rear, exclusive ten-spoke aluminum alloy wheels, and black Trueno Edition side panel graphics for a fun throwback look. The interior boasts premium Ultrasuede sport seats trimmed in red leather that’s set off by red stitching on the shift boot and steering wheel. The model gets its own Trueno Edition shift knob and all-weather floor and trunk mats.
Toyota’s 2024 Masterworks: the GR Corolla Circuit Edition and GR86 Trueno Edition
For some drivers, the exclusive appeal of a limited edition model is just too good to pass up. With upgraded components, singular styling, and—in the case of the GR86 Trueno Edition—a clever nod to the brand’s past, these two models are certainly worth a second look. With the GR Corolla, Toyota has pushed the limits of its best-selling model, teaming up with Gazoo Racing to pull out all the stops and create a Corolla that’s miles away from this compact’s standard guise.
The GR-Four all-wheel drive system alone is worth the price of admission, but the Circuit Edition certainly sweetens the deal with its new and improved Torsen limited-slip differentials, aero elements, and aggressive appearance. The GR86 Trueno Edition might not be able to match the GR Corolla’s performance, but for those who appreciate a little automotive history, this sports car is a match made in heaven. The SACHS damper and Brembo brakes give the GR86 Trueno Edition a well-deserved boost in performance, but it’s the coupé’s historic styling and sheer exclusivity that makes it such a fun ride.
No matter which model you choose, the 2024 GR Corolla Circuit Edition and 2024 GR86 Trueno Edition both represent a thrilling upgrade over their base model inspirations.