OUR latest test car came with some racing pedigree and badging kudos as the Toyota Corolla we got our hands on was the GR Sport version.

Now at first I got really excited as GR stands for Gazoo Racing (the motorsport/performance arm of the Japanese manufacturer) and I have already sampled super-hot GR versions of the Yaris and Supra.

However, I then realized that Toyota think you can have too much of a good thing and so are not currently selling the full-blown Corolla GR with its 300bhp, turbocharged 1.6-litre three-cylinder engine and adjustable-torque-split all-wheel drive and limited-slip differentials in the UK.

Rather as BMW have their M Sport versions and Audi their Sportline models the GR Sport is a more road-friendly, less license losing version with sporty DNA and also comes as a ‘self-charging’ hybrid – the batteries are topped up when you hit the brakes and a small electric motor can then improve either efficiency or performance.

You can even drive the Corolla on battery power alone with a light right foot for short distances and there are eco, normal and sport driving modes to choose from.

The standard Corolla is already a great family car comfortable, well made, well equipped and quite frugal –  the GR Sport adds more striking styling with a 2-litre petrol engine which, linked to that electric motor, means 181bhp, a highly respectable 0-62mph in 7.9sec and top speed of 112mph.

Toyota say the car will give a combined mpg figure of up to 54mpg and my real world experience backs that up as over a near 300 mile round trip to a motoring launch event in the south midlands I got just a shade under that figure, despite travelling for the majority of the journey at motorway speeds (M6 roadworks permitting).

So despite the name, the GR Sport doesn’t have any specific sport tuning apart from distinctive 18-inch alloy wheels. What it does have is that striking styling – unique front and rear bumper trim, GR Sport badging and inside supportive sports seats, a head-up display and large central infotainment touchscreen.

Other standard kit includes adaptive cruise control, reversing camera, heated front seats and a raft of the latest Toyota safety systems.

On the road the car is quite quick with steering that feels well-weighted, a sporty yet comfortable ride and that typical Toyota build quality that inspires a feeling of solidity and strength.

In 2-litre specification, as tested, the Corolla GR Sport comes in at £32,645. For that you get healthy equipment levels with items such as LED headlights, those 18-inch machined alloy wheels, that extra body styling and interior sporting touches plus head-up display as standard.

The Corolla range starts at £26,895 for the Icon trim non hybrid 1.8 petrol and goes up to £34,555 for the range-topping touring sports in Excel trim pitching the hybrid GR Sport towards the top of the range in terms of pricing.

So with the 2022 Corolla already a great drive adding some sporting credentials with the GR Sport version could be a way for you to really stand out on the high street.

For more info see www.toyota.co.uk

By Motoring Editor Steve Howarth