Toyota Aqua GR Sport 2023 Revealed With Sporty Looks, Hardware Tweaks

Those of you who are from outside Japan may be wondering – what is the Toyota Aqua? The first generation model launched in 2011 was sold as a rebadged Prius c outside of its domestic market. Its successor was unveiled last year as a small hatchback on the same platform as the Yaris. It’s slightly longer than the supermini, and for 2023, it’s getting the GR Sport treatment.

Remember, the previous generation Aqua was also tweaked by Gazoo Racing in 2017. Being the entry-level GR Sport trim level rather than the mid-range GR or flagship GRMN, the subcompact hatchback is all featured without any extras. That said, there are some hardware changes such as the electric power steering which has been modified to improve handling. Additionally, the front and rear suspension were stiffened, but the latter kept the basic torsion beam setup rather than switching to a multi-link layout.

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Gazoo Racing engineers added extra bracing under the floor and reinforced rear bumper for better stability when cornering at higher speeds. Power+ mode provides more direct steering response than before to make the Aqua feel agile even though there’s no super-powerful three-pot turbo engine under the hood.

A slightly more aggressive body combined with exclusive 17-inch alloy wheels wrapped in Bridgestone Potenza 205/45 R17 tires. Inside, the GR-branded front seats get extra lateral support and are upholstered in synthetic leather combined with a type of fabric only offered in the GR Sport. Aluminum pedals, a three-spoke steering wheel and dark accents complete the change.

The Aqua GR Sport can only be had with front-wheel drive but other trim levels are available with AWD. Motivation is provided by a 1.5-liter three-cylinder petrol engine producing 91 horsepower (67 kilowatts) at 5,500 rpm and 120 Newton-meters (89 pound-feet) of torque at 3,800 rpm. It’s safe to say that you won’t set any lap records around Suzuka.

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It is the sixth member of the GR Sport lineup in Japan where the Aqua joins the Copen, Yaris, C-HR, Hilux and Land Cruiser. The global family is bigger considering that Toyota also sells the RAV4 and Corolla Cross in the GR Sport flavour. There’s even the Fortuner GR Sport as a body-on-frame SUV with rear-wheel drive.

Available only in Japan, the Toyota Aqua GR Sport starts at 2,595,000 yen (about $18,800 at current exchange rates).

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