2023 Civic Kind R vs. 2023 GR Corolla Circuit vs. 2022 Golf R

From the April 2023 subject of Automobile and Driver.

Early within the indoctrination course of, a automotive fanatic learns of the impossibility of a single automobile that excels in each space. A low-slung, light-weight sports activities automotive is inherently at odds with cargo and passenger house. That is why we’re all dreaming of and scheming towards having a various fleet on the prepared, proper?

However these three vehicles are about as shut as you may get to the do-it-all preferrred, with adult-habitable again seats, hatchback cargo spaciousness, and observe functionality that lets them hold with sports activities vehicles from not that way back. Plus, their mid-$40,000s costs aren’t any increased than the new-car common.

The most recent nameplate on this bunch is the GR Corolla. It represents the third automobile in Toyota’s more and more spectacular Gazoo Racing division arsenal. Based mostly on the Corolla hatchback that we all know and do not love, the rally-bred GR packs a 300-hp wallop from a 1.6-liter three-cylinder, a snicky six-speed handbook, all-wheel drive, and a mechanical parking brake able to heave it hatch first into the following nook.

Honda overhauled the Civic Kind R for 2023, constructing upon the wonderful earlier era, which introduced the pink R badge again to the U.S. in 2017. The Kind R is extra harmonious this time round, although, with mature exterior sheetmetal to match the chassis’s excessive polish. Energy from the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder is up ever so barely to 315 horsepower, and, like within the Corolla, the one transmission is a six-speed handbook.

Rounding out the group is the grandfather of efficiency hatchbacks, the Volkswagen Golf. A GTI has been a part of the lineup since Europe bought one in 1976, however in 2004, VW added an all-wheel-drive efficiency mannequin above the GTI and referred to as it the R32. In the present day’s Golf R makes a Kind R–equaling 315 horsepower from its 2.0-liter four-cylinder and contains a torque-vectoring rear diff that may ship one hundred pc of the rear torque to both wheel and really does within the Golf R’s new Drift mode.

As examined, these vehicles sticker inside $800 of each other—groupings do not get a lot tighter. And as a reminder to the nation whose automakers are more and more abandoning vehicles and now not produce something like these, the trio arrived painted pink, white, and blue. We drove them arduous (see our noticed gasoline economic system) on well-worn Southern California canyon roads and on the Streets of Willow Springs highway course, and we got here away loving all of them. Critically, even the last-place finisher is on our 10Best brief record of favourite vehicles this yr. However some come nearer to the do-it-all preferrred.

third Place: Toyota GR Corolla Circuit

As the good ones usually do, the GR Corolla begins to really feel particular even at parking-lot speeds, its high-boost three-cylinder chuffing and snorting. The shifting, too, is extra mechanical and better effort than the opposite two. At elevated rpm, the engine tickles the pedals and sings probably the most trustworthy and pure-sounding racket, which isn’t electronically enhanced just like the others. Whereas the GR’s engine makes probably the most linear energy of the bunch, it would not actually get up till mid-tach, about 4000 rpm. On the Streets, it wants second gear in locations the place the others are pleased with third. Whereas there’s the flexibility to change the front-to-rear torque break up, we couldn’t really feel a distinction between 50/50 and 30/70 when powering out of a nook, and we needed to be affected person and wait out extra understeer than within the Honda and VW. The GR Corolla rotates far more with an enormous carry than it does on energy, however you too can use the nuclear choice and pull the one hand brake of the group. On the observe, the Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires typically appeared to make extra squeal than grip, though they carried out second greatest on the skidpad with a stable 0.97-g effort. Nonetheless, they make the Civic’s Pilot Sport 4Ss really feel like R-compound rubber.

HIGHS: Mechanical tingles, unfiltered engine notice, direct shift motion.
Stiffest journey, smallest again seat and cargo house, least good inside.
VERDICT: It would not occur usually, however sometimes an incredible automotive finishes final.

2023 toyota gr corolla circuit

Marc Urbano|Automobile and Driver

The Corolla has the widest pricing unfold of the group and is the one one to supply a number of trim ranges. Ours was the mannequin in the midst of the lineup, the Circuit, which for a $7000 upcharge provides entrance and rear limited-slip differentials, a cast carbon-fiber roof, and inside upgrades.

Whereas the Corolla journeys the quarter-mile lights first, with a 13.3-second run, it falls properly behind the opposite two above 100 mph. The transmission was no match for our shifting arm, as we beat its synchros and floor gears into second, third, and typically fourth throughout testing. The auto rev-matching characteristic is a useful addition, particularly for the reason that pedals are unfold too far aside for optimum heel-and-toe shifting. Within the practicality measures of rear-seat and cargo house, the Corolla scores lowest, largely as a result of relocated battery (it is within the again) and a chunky rear bumper that intrudes on the hatch opening. This automotive additionally locations final in noticed gasoline economic system and inside supplies. It has probably the most jittery, unsettled freeway journey, which is not shocking contemplating it is the one one within the check with out adaptive dampers. The tacked-on cladding on the rear doorways and quarter-panels appears aftermarket, though the GR earns kudos for being the one contender with mounted brake calipers entrance and rear. Granted, a few of these aren’t probably the most vital classes for placing a smile on the driving force’s face, which the GR does reliably, however there’s one other automotive that steers and handles higher and in addition beats it in all of the softer expertise.

2nd Place: Volkswagen Golf R

The Golf R’s maturity could be lulling. This automotive is the quietest at freeway speeds by a large margin, with probably the most coddling journey high quality. Its engine sings a a lot mellower and much softer tune, the stiffness of the iron block from the long-serving EA888 turbo 4 probably contributing to its smoothness. The Golf R weighs probably the most and, by a small margin, put up the worst braking and cornering outcomes.

HIGHS: Quietest, smoothest journey, most options.
LOWS: Least partaking to drive, too-large shift knob and imprecise shifter really feel, maddening inside controls.
Mature, with a wild facet.

That is why its liveliness on the observe was a nice shock, with the Golf R rotating far more below energy than the Corolla. The Volkswagen would not ever come round, however the torque-vectoring diff helps it take an preliminary step out. Nürburgring mode—formally, Particular mode—relaxes the dampers whereas dialing up every part else and was our favourite setting on each observe and avenue. The engine hits the toughest throughout acceleration out of corners, and the Golf tied for the quickest to 60 mph, with a brutal redline clutch dump giving it the swiftest skedaddle off the road. By 100 mph, the Golf pulls away from the others. But it nonetheless averaged one of the best gasoline economic system.

When our palms began to sweat whereas lapping, we realized we had by accident bumped the steering-wheel heater button. It is occurred to us earlier than and is an ideal segue into what we like least concerning the newest Golf: its controls and infotainment, every part from fussy seat-heat toggles to an illogical settings-menu format. Whereas there’s all method of lighting contained in the cabin and out, together with the unibrow between the headlights, Volkswagen uncared for to light up key quantity and local weather controls on the middle stack.

Though the Golf has the highest-quality steering wheel, with perforated leather-based at 9 and three o’clock, the steering itself is our least favourite. The knob atop the shifter is simply too giant, and its motions aren’t as crisp as the opposite hatches’. Clutch engagement is grabbier than the opposite two, and the brake pedal is softer.

2022 volkswagen golf r

Marc Urbano|Automobile and Driver

Proving that usefulness isn’t solely about dimension, the Golf’s again seat (second largest of the three) is by far probably the most accommodating. With wonderful contouring that gives lateral and lumbar help, these rear seats are the one ones which might be heated and get their very own climate-control zone. There’s adequate headroom, kneeroom, and under-seat foot house, together with one of the best view out of the facet glass. There is a cause European households purchase Golfs.

Though the Golf lacks the rev-matching characteristic current within the different two, it in any other case dominates in our complete tallying of options. It is the one one with ventilated energy seats (with reminiscence), rain-sensing wipers, entrance and rear parking help, and a sunroof, which made the Corolla look fundamental by comparability.

1st Place: Honda Civic Kind R

In final month’s dispatch from Virginia Worldwide Raceway, we reported that the Kind R is the quickest front-driver we have ever run across the massive observe. It additionally beats these two all-wheel-drivers, to not point out outrunning a 2006 Ford GT, matching a C6 Corvette Grand Sport, and working only a half-second behind a current-generation Porsche Cayman S. At VIR, each the Corolla and the Kind R had been carrying elective Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2s, however the Civic’s normal tire is barely a downgrade, with a 1.04-g skidpad assault.

HIGHS: Finest steering, dealing with, shifting, and seats; livable journey high quality.
LOWS: Mild on options versus the Golf, noisy over the highway.
VERDICT: Unfathomably nice, with no “for a front-driver” qualifier wanted.

You sit decrease within the Civic than the opposite two, and the view over its flatter hood may nearly go for that of a rear-driver. Removed from a chilly velocity machine, the Kind R rapidly convinces it is extra involving and straightforward to drive quick. It corners flat, turns in crisply, and, by means of the magic of its dual-axis struts, can put down the ability early with out corrupting the steering. It additionally tucks in and rotates below braking, with far much less understeer than the Corolla.

The Civic loses factors for ditching a center again seat, and the rear cabin, whereas bigger, is not almost as snug because the Golf’s. The Kind R can also be missing in options in contrast with the Golf, however its LogR operate, which overlays information on prime of video taken with a cellphone, is one thing neither of the others have. It is like Common Motors’ Efficiency Knowledge Recorder however with out the built-in digital camera.

This is an image

The Kind R’s logr characteristic makes movies like this, utilizing footage shot with a smartphone merged with information recorded from the automotive.’

Strapping into the Kind R’s seats makes each errand really feel like a time assault. They’re tremendous supportive from thigh to shoulder but snug for prolonged stretches. You will discover one of the best shifting right here too, with a lever that scythes by means of its brief throws. Nonetheless, the shift knob is steel, in order comic Jim Gaffigan says about Scorching Pockets, it tends to be both frozen or burning sizzling.

Probably the most aggressive +R mode is unusably stiff; there’s little must forsake the versatile Consolation mode on the highway or observe. However even on this softest setting, the Kind R will sometimes get right into a pogo bounce by means of lumpy corners.

Whereas improved from earlier than, the engine notice is usually a little buzzy and kazoo-like. However our largest reservation is the roar that reverberates up from the tires. There’s numerous rolling noise and extreme ponging from the tire cavities over damaged pavement. That may make the journey, which is agency however completely livable and higher than the Corolla’s, appear stiffer than it’s. We’re curious what one other 50 kilos of sound deadening would possibly do.

However nearly each approach you slice it, the Kind R is the winner: lap time, dealing with, steering really feel, driving engagement, shifting, plus cargo house. This factor is stacked.

2023 honda civic type r, 2023 toyota gr corolla circuit, 2022 volkswagen golf r

Automobile and Driver

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2023 Honda Civic Kind R
Automobile Kind: front-engine, front-wheel-drive, 4-passenger, 4-door hatchback


Base/As Examined: $44,390/$44,845
Choices: Championship White paint, $455

turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve inline-4, aluminum block and head, direct gasoline injection

Displacement: 122 in3, 1996 cm3

Energy: 315 hp @ 6500 rpm

Torque: 310 lb-ft @ 2600 rpm 


6-speed handbook


Suspension, F/R: struts/multilink

Brakes, F/R: 13.8-in vented disc/12.0-in disc

Tires: Michelin Pilot Sport 4S
265/30ZR-19 (93Y) DT1


Wheelbase: 107.7 in

Size: 180.9 in

Width: 74.4 in
Top: 55.4 in

Passenger Quantity, F/R: 55/44 ft3
Cargo Quantity, Behind F/R: –/25 ft3
Curb Weight: 3173 lb

30 mph: 2.3 sec
60 mph: 5.0 sec

100 mph: 11.7 sec

1/4-Mile: 13.5 sec @ 108 mph
130 mph: 21.2 sec
Outcomes above omit 1-ft rollout of 0.3 sec.

Rolling Begin, 5–60 mph: 5.8 sec

Prime Gear, 30–50 mph: 10.0 sec

Prime Gear, 50–70 mph: 6.3 sec

Prime Velocity (mfr’s declare): 169 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 151 ft

Braking, 100–0 mph: 307 ft

Roadholding, 300-ft Skidpad: 1.04 g 


Noticed: 14 mpg 


Mixed/Metropolis/Freeway: 24/22/28 mpg 

2023 Toyota GR Corolla Circuit
Automobile Kind: front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door hatchback


Base/As Examined: $43,995/$44,420
Choices: Supersonic Pink paint, $425

turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 12-valve inline-3, aluminum block and head, port and direct gasoline injection

Displacement: 99 in3, 1618 cm3

Energy: 300 hp @ 6500 rpm

Torque: 273 lb-ft @ 3000 rpm 

6-speed handbook


Suspension, F/R: struts/multilink

Brakes, F/R: 14.0-in vented, grooved disc/11.7-in vented, grooved disc

Tires: Michelin Pilot Sport 4
235/40ZR-18 (95Y)


Wheelbase: 103.9 in

Size: 173.6 in

Width: 72.8 in
Top: 57.2 in

Passenger Quantity, F/R: 50/35 ft3
Cargo Quantity, Behind F/R: 35/18 ft3
Curb Weight: 3252 lb

30 mph: 1.5 sec
60 mph: 4.9 sec

100 mph: 11.9 sec

1/4-Mile: 13.3 sec @ 105 mph
130 mph: 22.9 sec

Outcomes above omit 1-ft rollout of 0.4 sec.

Rolling Begin, 5–60 mph: 6.3 sec

Prime Gear, 30–50 mph: 10.2 sec

Prime Gear, 50–70 mph: 7.0 sec

Prime Velocity (gov ltd): 143 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 156 ft

Braking, 100–0 mph: 313 ft

Roadholding, 300-ft Skidpad: 0.97 g 


Noticed: 13 mpg 


Mixed/Metropolis/Freeway: 24/21/28 mpg

2022 Volkswagen Golf R
Automobile Kind: front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door hatchback


Base/As Examined: $45,185/$45,185
Choices: None

turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve inline-4, iron block and aluminum head, direct gasoline injection

Displacement: 121 in3, 1984 cm3

Energy: 315 hp @ 6500 rpm

Torque: 280 lb-ft @ 1900 rpm 

6-speed handbook


Suspension, F/R: struts/multilink

Brakes, F/R: 14.1-in vented, cross-drilled disc/12.2-in vented disc

Tires: Hankook Ventus S1 Evo3
235/35R-19 91Y +


Wheelbase: 103.5 in

Size: 168.9 in

Width: 70.4 in
Top: 57.7 in

Passenger Quantity, F/R: 51/41 ft3
Cargo Quantity, Behind F/R: 35/20 ft3
Curb Weight: 3380 lb

30 mph: 1.4 sec
60 mph: 4.9 sec

100 mph: 11.4 sec

1/4-Mile: 13.4 sec @ 106 mph
130 mph: 20.4 sec

Outcomes above omit 1-ft rollout of 0.2 sec.

Rolling Begin, 5–60 mph: 6.0 sec

Prime Gear, 30–50 mph: 8.7 sec

Prime Gear, 50–70 mph: 5.8 sec

Prime Velocity (mfr’s declare): 155 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 161 ft

Braking, 100–0 mph: 317 ft

Roadholding, 300-ft Skidpad: 0.95 g 


Noticed: 16 mpg


Mixed/Metropolis/Freeway: 23/20/28 mpg 


Headshot of Dave VanderWerp

Director, Automobile Testing

Dave VanderWerp has spent greater than 20 years within the automotive trade, in diversified roles from engineering to product consulting, and now main Automobile and Driver‘s vehicle-testing efforts. Dave bought his very fortunate begin at C/D by occurring to submit an unsolicited resume at simply the appropriate time to land a part-time highway warrior job when he was a scholar on the College of Michigan, the place he instantly turned enthralled with the world of automotive journalism.

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