I’m a Subaru STI Lover and I’m Already Hunting for a Toyota GR Corolla

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Since I returned my leased 2017 Subaru WRX STI in October 2020, I’ve been trying desperately to fill the void with used trucks, countless old BMWs, and even public transit. None of those options have done the job. I decided I need another new (or at least newish) car. But the options are slim. And with no new STI on the horizon, they just got slimmer.

I don’t want another STI of the same generation. Been there, done that. The VW Golf R is overpriced, has an awful interior, and is nowhere near as engaging as the STI. The Honda Civic Type R is too front-wheel drive for my taste, though I am excited to see the new car once it’s unveiled. I don’t care much for what’s available on the affordable end of the rear-wheel-drive spectrum. And used car values are just absurd currently. At least for now, I’ve missed my chance to buy a used Lotus Evora or manual BMW M2.

After driving the new WRX back in December, I was excited about what the STI version could bring. This freshly introduced WRX is by no means a hardcore performance car. A bargain, fun daily? Sure. But not much more than that. It’s a good car, but I want that extra-planted feel. The stiffer ride. The burbling exhaust. The wing. At the time, I thought the incoming STI would solve this crisis for me.

But that car isn’t coming. The next STI will be electrified, which, great! I’m all for it. What I’m not for is the multi-year wait for its arrival.

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Conveniently, there’s a new challenger entering the space at just the right time.

The GR Corolla is on its way. We don’t know much, but from the teasers we’ve seen, it’ll be based on the Corolla hatchback currently offered in the States and have the same or similar powertrain to the GR Yaris, the highly regarded rally-special hot hatch we don’t get in the States. To be competitive, it’s safe to assume it’ll be priced around $35,000 (hopefully less for my sake) and it’s rumored to show up in dealers around October of this year. God willing.

For me, that all sounds just about perfect.

I need a fun car I can abuse. When I had my STI, I drove it hard. Over the course of 3.5 years and 50,000 miles, it saw cross-country trips, rallycross, harsh winters, track days, dry lake beds, and even suffered the indignities of New York City street parking. Of course, there was a healthy amount of sideways driving on loose surfaces, too. It took all of that without complaint. I need something new to do the same.

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Let’s just say that my STI didn’t exactly look showroom-ready when I turned it back in. Knowing Toyota and what its performance cars have been capable of, I’m confident this new hot hatch will be up to the challenge.

The problem I foresee is getting my hands on one. With the new and used car markets insane right now, many dealers, especially Toyota dealers

, have been charging absurd markups for higher-demand vehicles, like Tacomas, 4Runners, GR86s, and RAV-4 PHEVs. An unverified leaked Toyota sales document indicated the automaker expects to sell just 90 GR Corollas in the New York region by the end of 2022. Slim pickings.

In an attempt to get ahead of the curve, like other future GR Corolla buyers, I started calling New York-area Toyota dealers to see if deposits were being accepted or if waitlists were being put together. Some had waitlists but weren’t accepting deposits because allocations haven’t been designated and order books aren’t yet open, some were happy to accept the cash, and others had no idea what I was talking about. All valid reactions for an inquiry about a car that doesn’t officially exist yet.

From a friend’s recommendation, I found one local-ish, seemingly enthusiast-friendly dealer that was willing to take my $1000 deposit, but later informed me it couldn’t promise its first allocation or that markup wouldn’t be involved. So my search for a solid, consumer-first, East Coast dealer is still on. If that’s you, please let me know.

The last thing I’d want is to pay an additional dealer markup. But, I really don’t want to wait until 2023 for a new daily driver. Is that asking too much? In these times, maybe.

Toyota hasn’t yet announced when it’ll pull the covers off the GR Corolla. But since we’ve pretty much seen the whole exterior of the car already, it’s safe to say that day is coming soon.

Are you an STI lover in the same boat? What’s your plan to scratch the itch? Let me know below.

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