The GR Corolla’s Rowdy 300-HP Three-Cylinder Is Probably Going Into a Lexus

Combining luxury with a turbocharged spitfire sounds like a hoot, but it could be forbidden fruit it in the U.S.

byJosé Rodríguez Jr|
Lexus News photo


A small Lexus crossover sporting the power of the GR Corolla and GR Yaris could be on the way soon, marking a rare instance of the luxury brand from Toyota borrowing from its performance division.

Gazoo Racing had outfitted a Lexus LBX with a G16E-GTS engine for Akio Toyoda's own personal use, yielding the LBX Morizo RR Concept, named after the chairman's racing alter ego. The concept added yellow accents and a 1.6-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine to the LBX, on top of suspension upgrades and full-time AWD to make this Lexus perform like a true GR model.

The LBX Morizo RR was shown as one of the vehicles in "Morizo's Garage" at the Tokyo Auto Salon in January. Back then, it was firmly a concept car that spectators could conclude was just another eccentric model dreamed up by Akio—a small, mighty crossover with power to spare and luxury befitting the Lexus badge. But the GR-powered LBX is "highly likely" to go into production as Lexus Australia CEO John Pappas tells Drive magazine it's all but confirmed.


These statements echo Akio Toyoda's own words on the fate of the LBX Morizo RR, since the chairman had let it slip that the concept was heading for production soon. When the regular Lexus LBX debuted in 2023, Toyoda said that the Morizo edition was coming "next year," per Drive magazine.

John Pappas goes on to say that if the LBX Morizo indeed goes into production, Australia will be looking to import the crossover, which shouldn't be too difficult because Japan and Australia are both right-hand drive markets. Of course, this also means the mighty little crossover has almost no chance of making it to the U.S.

The Lexus LBX is based on the Toyota Yaris Cross, and both are only sold overseas. The Yaris Cross had already undergone the Gazoo Racing treatment, being released as the Yaris Cross GR Sport in Japan. But even with the GR initials in its name, that model didn't trade its economy-minded engine for the rowdy three-cylinder in the GR Yaris and GR Corolla. Now, the Lexus LBX Morizo RR may fix that oversight.

In America, the Lexus UX is the smallest crossover from Toyota's luxury brand and that's unlikely to change. That's too bad, because the LBX Morizo would be the third vehicle and first Lexus to use the G16E-GTS engine, which makes 300 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. Since it's a Lexus, the LBX Morizo trades the manual gearbox of the GR Corolla for a new eight-speed torque converter automatic transmission available in the GR Yaris. Sure, it's not ideal, but it's even faster than the stick shift in the U.S.-spec GR Corolla. All of which is to say the LBX Morizo RR is a GR through and through, making the fact that it will likely never be sold in America all the more frustrating.


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