Watch The Performance-Spec Toyota Corolla You Never Knew Existed Rip

I swear, it’s moving! (Image via The Smoking Tire/YouTube)
I swear, it’s moving! (Image via The Smoking Tire/YouTube)

I thought Toyota dumped all their “youth marketing” energy into Scion sticker kits and mix CDs in 2005, but apparently I completely missed the manual-only “performance-spec” Corolla XRS. Watch this thing haul-ass around canyons and make supercar pilot Matt Farah crack up.

Before saying “the world is my autocross,” the coolest thing a Corolla driver has ever said, the owner of this particular car George reminds Farah that its 1.8-liter 2ZZ engine was shared with the original Lotus Elise.


So this thing is basically a four-door Lotus. Obviously.

That engine was also in the Matrix XRS and Celica GTS but the British sports car is definitely the cooler callback.

On top of the striking, aggressive, hardcore design that came with every Corolla in 2005, the XRS got smoked headlights, a body-colored grille, fog lights, 16" wheels, extra bracing and a half-inch lower suspension than the standard car. It has a variable valve-timing system like Honda’s VTEC that basically moves the engine to a more aggressive cam setting, sucking down more resources to make more power, at 6,800 RPM according to Farah (but I’ve heard 6,000 elsewhere.)

Apparently only 2,500 Corolla XRSs were ever built. If most been have crashed or shipped off to Nigeria by now, as I suspect is the case, George might have a collector’s item on his hands in a few decades.

Over a decade ago when the car was brand new, MotorWeek’s John Davis went into a little more detail with his signature swagger:

Watch this video too and if you can keep a straight face while Davis says “turbos, dubs and bling!” I’m going to assume you drive a Corolla too. You sick, soulless bastard. Davis goes on to describe the car as “downright athletic” with the deadpan delivery only he could pull off, reciting its claimed output at 170 horsepower and 127 lb-ft of torque.


The tested 0-60 was 7.6 seconds and a quarter mile was 16.1 at 89 MPH if you somehow are really interested in the car but couldn’t be bothered to watch that video.

George says the car is a meager 2,600 pounds, which is definitely light enough to be fun with 170 horsepower. Even if it is wrong wheel drive.


I certainly can relate to being in love with a mild “performance-spec” regular-ass car, and I appreciate how clean George keeps his. Who knew there was a four-door Lotus running around disguised as a college student’s hand-me-down economobile?



My wife had a 2007 Corolla S, and I had a 2006 Matrix XR, both purchased as new vehicles. Those are the two worst quality cars I’ve ever owned. The rain channel trim fell off the roof of the Corolla as we were driving it off the lot for the first time, and the issues kept building, until both cars were on the back of the same tow truck on the same day- the Matrix with a failed transmission solenoid, and the Corolla with a failed ECU.

After that, we went with other brands and have been far, far happier with the quality and reliability of our Kia and Volkswagens. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.