Page 1: Intro
In general legend and lore, Toyota Corollas have never been noted for their asphalt-grinding capabilities. Normally equipped with 130-hp. 1.8-liter inline-4 cylinder engines, Corollas perform modestly and only vary according to which transmission - either a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic - is chosen. They come in versions called the CE (base), a bit more uplevel LE and a more sporty S model. Affordability, utility, and reliability are the usual indexes on which the Corolla receives much of its praise.Enter the Corolla XRS. Despite looks that appear to be more of a trim package, this small compact has hot-rod handling and has a high fun-to-drive quotient. It makes plenty of power to propel it using its wide torque band; a stiff suspension (it's also been lowered by 1-inch) to keep it in place around tight corners; and brakes that bring it to a stop in a sensible fashion. The lowered body and bigger tires help, as well. And, oh yes, an engine note that sings a souped-up sound.
While it might not prove to be race-ready, the new XRS leans primarily towards performance. Pop the hood, and an inline-4 cylinder engine displacing the same volume (1.8 liters) as lesser Corollas gazes back. However, this engine is a completely different mill, adapted from the Celica GT-S. With variable valve lift and variable timing, the XRS power plant delivers 170 hp. at 7,600 rpm and 127 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,400 rpm.