5 Things that the GR Corolla got RIGHT that the Supra got WRONG!

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Transcript for the video below:

Oh man, oh man…the GR Corolla is out, and…I am fanboying so hard right now, it’s not even funny…

So, the GR Corolla has been a rumor for a little over a year, but no more. It’s been dropped, and aside from one key aspect, we pretty much know what the car is going to be, but the ones that are getting the most attention are the stats: 300 horsepower, 6 speed manual transmission, and all-wheel-drive in a hot hatchback. I predict it will succeed, Why? 

It got everything RIGHT that Toyota got wrong with the GR Supra 3 years ago. The timing, parts bin utilization, lineup positioning, branding, and competitiveness within the market, all mistakes Toyota made on the GR Supra, shining points on the GR Corolla. 

(For a deeper dive into why the GR Supra failed, check out my previous article)


Toyota waited WAY TOO LONG with the GR Supra. Nearly 10 years in fact. The hype was big in the early 2010s, but by the time it dropped, the moment had already passed. and with a disappointing phone-in job as a “Supra” resulting after all that hype, it proved to be one of Toyota’s worse ideas; and it promptly flooded. How bad of an idea was it? Nearly as bad as when Toyota first tried to sell a car in America in the 1950s. They wanted to call the car a “Toyo-let” See the problem?

The same can’t be said about the GR Corolla. When the GR Yaris dropped, within 2 months, they confirmed that the U.S. wouldn’t get the GR Yaris, but would get another hot hatch instead; starting the hype train for the GR Corolla. With lots of teasers to keep interest going in 2020 and 2021, time from initial idea to dropping the production model was about 2 years, which isn’t too bad at all, and about the same as prototype-to-production model showcase for the upcoming Nissan Z. Overall, I’d give the GR Corolla’s timing a 7.5 out of 10.

Parts Bin Utilization

The GR Corolla utilizes Toyota parts across the line. The GR Supra, meanwhile, DOESN'T

The GR Supra was utilizing a parts bin, just not Toyota’s, and that was a huge problem. Since all they were doing was outsourcing production, BMW was reaping the benefits of parts sharing, not Toyota, so Toyota is missing out on a large amount of profit potential on the car compared to if it had developed it in-house.

Fortunately, the same cannot be said about the GR Corolla. The rear end of the GR Yaris uses the same architecture that was already in the Corolla anyway, meaning porting the AWD layout from the GR Yaris was relatively straightforward. 

The turbo 3 cylinder is also the same unit that is in the GR Yaris, which, surprise, has MORE power than in the Yaris. Financially viable? You bet!

Parts Bin Utilization Score for the GR Corolla: 9 out of 10

Clarity and differentiation within the lineup

The BMW/GR Supra is quite confusing in the Toyota lineup, as it is nearly identical in size to the GR86. It’s even more confusing for the base 2 liter engine, which is down less than 30 horsepower from the GR86, costs $15,000 more, and is 200 kg heavier; a performance gap 1-2k of bolt-ons addresses right away. Result? $13k for an equally powered car that is cheaper to fix. For the 3.0 model, while it may make more sense on the surface, consider this. The GR Supra 3.0 retails for $23k more than a GR86, and produces 100 more horsepower than a GR86.

However, to get 100 extra horsepower out of a GR86 costs will cost much less than that. Turbocharging kits for the previous-generation 86 retail for about $4-6k. Factor in installation, let’s say it’s about $10k. The point? Whether you go for the 2.0 or the 3.0, the GR Supra is always $13k more expensive than a GR86 for a directly comparable package, not including the ongoing BMW maintenance costs of the GR Supra.

The GR Corolla has no such problem. While pricing hasn’t been announced yet, expect the GR Corolla to have a price point of about $35-40k. Because the Corolla is the only hatchback in the Toyota lineup, and because this top-spec GR model is the only one with all-wheel drive and the 3 cylinder engine, it sufficiently differentiates itself within Toyota’s lineup.

The 300 horsepower GR Corolla, compared with the GR86, offers a dollar-per-horsepower upgrade that makes financial sense, and it offers a different package than any other car in the Toyota lineup. Rewarding your buyers for spending more with lower per-unit costs is good business in any industry, and the GR Corolla hit it out of the park.

Differentiation within the lineup for the GR Corolla: 10 out of 10.


The GR Supra had a mountain to climb when it came to branding. The new car would have had to be everything that MKIV Supra of the 1990s was, and more to get praise from the press. To put one of the most iconic Japanese sports car nameplates on little more than a rebadged BMW Z4? It was bound to fail.

The expectations for the Supra brand, given its showcasing not just in video games and movies, but as YouTube clickbait during the early 2010s as a high-horsepower straight line monster, were higher than anything out there. If the car had been called anything else, ANYTHING, it may have had a chance. But THIS. AS A TOYOTA SUPRA? An embarrassing showcase of marketing and managerial incompetence. I damn near wrote Toyota off because of this debacle.

The GR Corolla, in contrast, is redemption. The driver’s car most associated with the Corolla, the RWD AE86 Toyota Corolla of the 1980s, became known not as a “Corolla,” but simply by its chassis code “AE86” (Which Toyota already carries the torch forward for in the GR86).

As a result, “Toyota Corolla” has most commonly been associated with hyper reliable, cheap to maintain, albeit boring commuter cars. To launch a Corolla hot hatchback? Brilliant, because customers can expect all the things they like about the Toyota Corolla without its biggest downside (boredom).

To not only do that, but to include GR-FOUR branding as an homage to Toyota’s winning GT-FOUR rally cars of the early-mid 1990s? Well played. And to have all this on a car known firstly for reliability? A showcase of marketing and managerial genius. Toyota’s back, baby.

Marketplace competitiveness

The GR Supra, to put it simply, wasn’t competitive. Toyota used the Porsche Cayman as a benchmark for their car, which was a big mistake. They should’ve known better; that any “Supra” they launched would inevitably be compared to the Nissan R35 GTR and the second generation Acura NSX. Doesn’t matter how much you try to explain otherwise, customers already have benchmarks for a car called “Supra” in their mind, and it sure isn’t a Porsche Cayman.

Compared to the GTR and NSX, Toyota’s GR Supra just looked embarrassing. And this is after the NSX revival itself flopped for having too high of a price, and the Nissan GTR was nearly a decade old! The Nissan GT-R, when it launched in 2008, started at under $70k, and while certain aspects of the car were controversial, it has performance numbers that bested cars 2, 3, even 4 times the price.

Despite the prices going up, that first impression of a performance monster continued the performance monster spirit of its predecessor, and that reputation stuck, and the car became a success. The GTR was riding on its own reputation, and Toyota blew a fantastic opportunity to upstage the competition.

The GR Corolla, on the other hand, completely BREAKS the established norms within the marketplace, and offers a huge leap in value . The logical points of comparison for customers in terms of price and function? The Civic Type R, WRX, Focus RS, and Golf R.

The WRX? It’s hideous, only available as a sedan, and looks set to flop. Plus, no STI for this generation? Next generation will be ELECTRIC! Peak lazy, Subaru has been resting on their laurels for too long.

The Golf R? Very competent, but often described somewhat uninspired and not super-fun, so not really a hot-hatchback, more a baby Audi RS3. It’s a different class of car entirely, has a higher buy-in price and higher maintenance costs. Not rational IMO.

The Focus RS? Hasn’t been sold in 4 years, and quickly became known for head gasket failure and absurd dealer markups more than for driving fun.

Honda Civic Type R? No all wheel drive, cartoonish looking, and when you push the car hard like the car is supposedly designed to do, engine failures happen. No bueno.

Toyota GR Corolla? AWD? Check. Manual transmission? Check. Fun? Likely Check. Toyota reliability? Likely check. Affordable price tag? Likely check as well. Already looking like it has all the best features of its competitors, with none of the drawbacks. Toyota didn’t just match the competition, they have moved the goalposts. A fantastic opportunity that was perfectly utilized. I WANT ONE, I WANT ONE, I WANT ONE!

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