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Toyota - Corolla GR Sport A longtime favourite with Irish motorists - the new Toyota Corolla makes a massive comeback

Toyota - Corolla GR Sport

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Corolla is best selling new car so far this year

Corolla is best selling new car so far this year

Corolla is best selling new car so far this year

The Toyota Corolla holds a very special place in my heart. My very first car was a second-hand little red hatch that I bought from an old friend in the UK.

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Corolla is best selling new car so far this year

Corolla is best selling new car so far this year

Corolla is best selling new car so far this year

Now, before I get lashed out of it for importing a car from across the water, I was in my early 20s and it was all I could afford back in those days.

My little red hatchback was a few years old when I bought it, but it had very low mileage and never once during the seven or eight years I owned did it give me one ounce of trouble.

In fact, when I eventually did get rid of it after clocking up close to 100,000 kilometres, the little Corolla went on to serve a close friend of mine and his family for another decade before it was finally laid to 'rust in peace'.

Back in those days, the Toyota Corolla was one of the best-selling cars in Ireland - mainly because it gained a reputation for being one of the most reliable family motors to arrive on our shores in years.

Sadly, with the influx of SUVs in the last decade, sales of the much-loved Corolla were overtaken by the likes of Korean brands, Hyundai and Kia, and it lost its way for a little while.

However, the tides of the car industry look to have changed again in Ireland and the Corolla is actually the best-selling model so far this year - a year that has been horrendous for the entire motor industry.

As new-car sales struggle, Toyota Ireland has still managed to sell close to 4,000 units (at the time of publishing) of its Corolla be it in hatch or saloon form. In fairness, having not driven a Corolla in a long time, this much-loved car has come a long way since the days of my little red hatch - especially in the shape of my test drive recently - the Corolla GR Sport.

The Corolla GR Sport is a 'hotter' variant that injects some of the passion of Toyota Gazoo, the company's motorsport division, into it. After the introduction of the Yaris GR SPORT a couple of years ago, the Corolla GR Sport is the second model to join Toyota's European GR Sport range.

The Corolla GR power comes in the form of a 2-litre hybrid that produces 184bhp while returning a claimed 5.3 litres every 100km.

The car handles itself really well around town and on motorways even though it's not exactly a hot-hatch - it takes 7.9 seconds to reach 100kmh.

The GR Sport features unique style elements including a new front grille with dark chrome finish and unique lower skirts, side rockers and rear diffuser. The grade also adds bespoke 18in machined alloy wheels, rear privacy glass, fog lamps, LED headlamps and a dedicated exterior colour Dynamic Grey with bi-tone execution.

On board, the GR Sport is equipped with model-specific Sport seats in black fabric with leather-like bolsters, which may be optionally upgraded to full leather upholstery. Additionally it features black and red stitch on the instrument panel, steering wheel and shifter.

Prices for the Corolla hatch start at €26,640, while the GR Sport models kick off at €31,885.

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