2021 Toyota Corolla Hatchback Special Edition aims for more excitement

The 2021 Toyota Corolla Hatchback Special Edition is further proof that Toyota is slowly getting back in the fun game. It started with sportier TRD renditions of the Camry and Avalon, both of which are better known as reliable family vehicles than barnstormers. And while the Corolla Hatchback Special Edition is comprised mainly of aftermarket-type exterior enhancements, it's further proof that Toyota is serious in giving the mainstream Corolla a sportier edge over its counterparts.

Toyota's pitch with the new Special Edition is that "looks like it just rolled out of a Southern California custom shop." That means bolder wheels, a new body kit, and fancy paint colors. Speaking of which, the Corolla Special Edition is available in two new paint colors: Wind Chill Pearl and Magnetic Gray Metallic. However, the Supersonic Red paint depicted here (which is exclusive to the Corolla Hatchback Special Edition) is, in my opinion, the best of the lot if you really want a fast-looking Corolla hatchback.

Starting with a base Corolla hatchback SE CVT, the Special Edition adds the aforementioned body kits along with blacked-out 18-inch alloy wheels. Sadly, the Special Edition retains the standard engine and CVT transmission, and it wouldn't hurt if the 2.0-liter four-banger came with a bit more power to accompany the sportier vibe. But then again, the motor's electrically-operated VVT-iE valvetrain and Dynamic Shift CVT (with 10 simulated gears) make good use of the motor's 168 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque.

Standard on the 2021 Corolla Hatchback Special Edition is an 8-inch touchscreen, a six-speaker audio system, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto/Amazon Alexa connectivity, Bluetooth, and SiriusXM satellite radio. The available JBL premium 800-watt audio system for the Corolla XSE includes eight speakers with JBL's Dynamic Voice Recognition system. Also standard are single-zone automatic climate control, a leather shift knob, and paddle shifters for CVT models. Meanwhile, the XSE includes dual-zone climate control, heated seats, and leather-trimmed upholstery.

Toyota is throwing in the Enhanced Cargo Space option, too, with a lower cargo floor to increase cargo room by up to 6 cubic feet. But then again, you only get a tire repair kit instead of a regular spare tire in exchange. Toyota is also introducing the Nightshade Edition along with the hot Special Edition. The former receives blacked-out trim and 18-inch alloy wheels in either a black, silver, or white finish.

Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 is standard across the board, including automatic high beams, lane departure warning, dynamic radar cruise control, and pre-collision braking among other features. Plus, blind-spot monitoring is now standard on all Corolla XSE grades.

Toyota is only making 1,500 Corolla Hatchback Limited models for 2020. The first deliveries are expected to arrive in late summer, while pricing will be announced closer to the intended launch date.