Toyota has recently experienced a commendable surge in producing exhilarating performance models. Such progress is largely due to Toyota’s Gazoo Racing, whose proficiency has effectively restored the “excitement” in Toyota’s product portfolio. The GR86, GR Supra, GR Yaris, and GR Corolla, are all remarkable examples of a Japanese automaker, predominantly acknowledged for its mundane commuter cars, stunningly impressing the masses.
The GR Corolla, in particular, is a fascinating model. It is Toyota’s debut all-wheel-drive hot hatchback, capable of rivaling the Gold GTI and Civic Type-R. However, what you might not be aware of is that fifteen years prior to the GR Corolla’s inception, Toyota designed another impressive hatchback, based on the brand’s best-selling model, known as the Toyota Blade Master G. This model presents some uncustomary yet intriguing engineering selections.
The engine is the most significant aspect of any performance version, and in Toyota’s Corolla, it is mostly a reasonably-priced, unremarkable inline-four engine that caters to practical individuals. Nevertheless, the Blade Master G diverges from this by utilizing a 3.5-liter naturally-aspirated V-6 engine.
The letters “GR” also appear on the Blade Master G, not because of Gazoo Racing’s involvement, but rather due to the engine code, the 2GR-FE. This same engine powers numerous, more sophisticated Toyota models such as the Camry, Aurion, Avalon, RAV4, and others. More importantly, it propels the Lotus Evora, Exige, and Emira, with some applications employing a supercharger to achieve power figures exceeding 400 horsepower.
The 2GR-FE engine in the Toyota Blade Master G is transversely-mounted and naturally-aspirated, resulting in a power output of 280 horsepower (209 kilowatts) at 6,200 RPM and 254 pound-feet (344 Nm) at 4,700 RPM. However, the Blade Master G differs from the GR Corolla by lacking all-wheel-drive, and power is transmitted solely to the front wheels. A six-speed automatic transmission is the sole option, albeit manual mode and paddle-shifters are available. Nonetheless, this configuration prioritizes comfort over performance, culminating in a 0 to 60 mph (97 km/h) time of 6.3 seconds, which is respectable given the hatchback’s curb weight of 3,262 pounds (1,480 kg).