Great Gazoo! Toyota’s new Corolla’s a right little rock ‘n rolla!

If you have never had the occasion to drive behind any sportilly-tuned Toyota, try tailgating the newly-launched Corolla GR Sport.

The likelihood is that it would be found friskily galloping on the highway, having bolted from its GR Sport stable.

To the uninitiated, here’s a bit of background. Toyota has almost six decades of motorsports history and sports car development through its two entities – Toyota Racing Development (TRD) and later, Gazoo Racing (GR).

Gazoo entered Malaysia’s automotive lexicon with the introduction of the inaugural TGR (Toyota Gazoo Racing) Festival in 2017, with the highlight being the Vios Challenge. (This is where the entire grid is taken up by the race-ready Toyota Vios, in identical red motif against white body race livery and paint job).

To this day, it is the only street racing event in the country attracting legions of petrolheads to any one of its 28 race venues up and down the country.

What and why Gazoo? Nope – it has nothing to do with the Great Gazoo character in the animated cartoon series ‘The Flintstones’. Gazo (with the single ‘o’) is the Japanese word for picture or image. A website – gazoo.com, which was how the Japanese word was deliberately spelt –with a double ‘o’ –showed pictures of ‘used cars’ for sale, which came to represent the notion of individual car garages producing sporty cars of note.

Toyota picked Gazoo Racing as the entity tasked with introducing sporty tweaks to its car line-up. While TRD has propelled the brand into the realm of big-time motorsports, including the ultimate test –  Formula 1 and World Rally Championship (WRC) – the GR brand has its sights set on the road-going masses.

So, for those with rallying and Formula 1 on their minds but without the wherewithal to actually take the plunge, the next best thing is to subscribe – and drive in any one of the offerings from Gazoo Racing. Since Monday in late August, the Corolla GR Sport is there for the taking.

This variant of the existing Corolla 1.8G (Altis) carries several tweaks to justify the increase in sticker price to RM152,800 (on-the-road without insurance and road tax).

What do you get for paying RM5,000 more for the privilege of stepping up from the 1.8G Corolla to the GR Sport?

Yes, it is a sedan – albeit very sportily ‘coupe-ish’ in exterior outline, which is certainly what the Toyota tech guys have been fiddling with whilst in their gazo(o) all this while!

They have been working on little cosmetic details to stimulate the ardour, and justify that extra bit of spending by Malaysian motorists who have been driving sedately their Toyota Altises all this while.

Begin at the bumper, where the honeycomb mesh really accentuates its frontal presence. Black trim and lower intake give it a wider profile, making the front ‘sit’ lower, ala a racing car lowered for the track.

The front air inlets come with horizontal slats integrated with the front fog lamps. This is calculated to give a racy and sporty look that I must say, raises the adrenaline while on the road.

For performance buffs, the GR Sport has stiffer suspension with damper springs and stabilisers to cope with the demands of its 18-inch wheels using wider profile tyres.

Step inside the cabin and get that racer sensation – just a teeny, little bit so I don’t puff up too much; from the black interior and with red stitches, including at the door trim.

Change too, for gauges and dials, which now feature an updated 12.3 inch digital instrument cluster. No interior cabin is complete nowadays without a touchscreen display for audio output, supported by Android Auto, as well as Apple CarPlay.

Standard are automatic LED projector headlamps (very much welcomed, as I often get ‘buzzed’ emerging from a well-lit car park, unknowingly driving on without switching on the headlamps to make my road presence known).

You might have a field day playing with the paddle shifters – a feature I don’t fully appreciate, as I like the traditional, full-on, grab ‘em full in a clenched left-fist, shifter.

There are not two, or three, but eight-way powered driver’s seat (though I think half of that is enough), Qi wireless charger (very handy), 3D panoramic view monitor, and front and rear end digital video recorders (we truly need this feature nowadays – who knows when we might need video evidence that could absolve us of blame).

If you owned the 1.8G, this sporty variant has the same engine under the hood. This gives you 172Nm of torque to get out of tight situations. It features Continuous Variable Timing (CVT) that drives the front wheels, which improves fuel economy, while giving seamless power without hard shifting when needing to overtake.

Since we have not had the chance to put this newly-launched model for a test drive, I will stop right here, until such time when we get to put it thoroughly through its paces.

Suffice to say, Gazoo is here to stay!

@twentytwo13news Toyota has just launched the new Corolla GR Sport and seasoned journalist Razak Chik says he must give it all the Gazoo it deserves. More on www.twentytwo13.my #cars #toyota #corolla #gr #malaysia #news #media #Twentytwo13 #Twentytwo13news ♬ Smoked out Phonk – TREVASPURA

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