Toyota Is Turning a GR86 Into a Celica GT-Four Homage With the GR Corolla’s Help

Evasive Motorsports was hired to stuff a GR Corolla's drivetrain into a GR86 for SEMA.
Toyota/Larry Chen

Toyota enthusiasts have been begging for a turbocharged GR86 since the car was first launched under the Scion FR-S name in 2012. And while countless tuners and owners have built their own turbocharged projects, Toyota has been noticeably absent from the forced-induction conversation. Until now. Sort of. Toyota asked Evasive Motorsports to build a GR86 with the oily bits from a GR Corolla for SEMA, and motorsport photographer Larry Chen stopped by to check it out.

Evasive Motorsports is no stranger to Toyota ’86 engine swaps. In 2020, it stuffed a 2JZ engine under the hood of a first-gen GT86 and won the Pikes Peak Unlimited Division with it. That experience with 86 builds is the reason why Toyota reached out to Evasive Motorsports with this very specific project—build a GR Corolla-powered GR86 that pays tribute to its iconic rally cars of the past, like the Celica GT-Four.

Despite both cars being Toyota products, swapping guts isn’t an easy task. The GR86 and GR Corolla are drastically different machines. The former is a two-door, rear-wheel drive coupe, with a longitudinally mounted, Subaru-sourced boxer four-cylinder up front. The latter is a five-door, front-wheel-drive-based hatchback, with a transverse-mounted turbocharged three-cylinder engine, and a complex all-wheel-drive system. It might sound easy to just drop in a GRolla engine, but retaining full all-wheel drive functionality is difficult, since the GR86’s chassis isn’t designed for it. Much custom fabricating is needed.

Some things did sort of just fall in place, though. The GR Corolla’s rear differential, for example fit surprisingly well in the GR86’s rear end, with only minor fabrication work needed. Up front, the GR Corolla’s axles and wheel hubs fit almost perfectly, despite being longer than the GR86’s axles. Only a different wheel offset is needed to keep the wheels flush after the swap. Evasive isn’t even doing a widebody kit, so the GR86’s fenders will stay as they are.

From the factory, the GRolla makes 300 horsepower, up 78 ponies over the stock GR86. So this build will have a massive performance upgrade as it stands. However, with simple engine management, a bigger turbo, and new fuel injectors, it has the potential to be a monster. Hopefully Toyota and Evasive take it rally racing once it leaves SEMA, as it’s too cool to forever live the life of a show car. (We’re not sure it’ll get the famous Castrol getup shown in the video’s thumbnail, though. Upon close inspection, that just looks like a screenshot of someone’s custom iRacing livery.) If this thing is half as awesome on dirt as the iconic Celica GT-Four, Toyota and Evasive will have a future classic on their hands.

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