Three new model designs make up the new of the Toyota Corolla 2019/2020 lineup.
But first the now iconic Toyota Corolla story.
Although only introduced to the U.K. Market in 1996, (under the Auris badge) the statistics of this amazing car are worthy of repeating.
The Auris/Corolla was first produced in Japan in 1966, at a time when many European manufacturers, who held sway in world markets, were starting to falter under mergers and quality issues and American manufacturers continued to focus on large, brash automotive designs, completely unsuited to the coming oil crisis of the 1970’s. The time was ripe for the introduction of a quality focused, reliable and economical small car – the Toyota Corolla, a brand almost unknown in the West at that time.
By 1974 the Corolla had surpassed sales of the world’s best selling car, the Volkswagen Beetle, and to date has sold more than 44 million units in the 12 generations manufactured since 1966. A Toyota Corolla is sold in the World every 15 seconds. It represents one in every fifth car sold worldwide – that is some pedigree.
It is therefore somewhat of a surprise to see that as a model it only represents some 5% of U.K. Sales.Toyota are banking on their quality, their good emission figures, fuel consumption, and their vehicles’ excellent resale values to improve their U.K. Sales. The question is…will it work?
Lets look in detail at the brand new three variants,the Sedan, theTouring Sport estate and a Hatch version and see how they shape up.
Platform and Engine
Re-branding from the Auris name will surely help, as that vehicle has somewhat of a “stodgy” reputation. The re-brand reflects the fact that much has now changed, not least the underpinnings. Toyota’s New Global Architecture platform supports a powertrain 10mm lower for a drop in the car’s centre of gravity and improved handling. The structure of this 12th-generation Corolla is now also 60% stiffer than the old one while independent rear suspension is now standard.
Across the range,Toyota offers a 112bhp 1.2-litre turbo petrol engine along with two versions of its Atkinson-cycle hybrid powertrains. The 1.8-litre VVTi is identical to what you’ll find in the Prius, in fact, and with a combined WLTP economy of up to 65.9mpg but only 120bhp from the electric motor and petrol engine combined, its priorities are clear. The 2.0-litre powertrain driven blurs the lines a bit however. With 178bhp and a 0-62mph time of 7.9sec, it’s quicker than either the equivalent Honda Civic or Ford Focus, but remains an economy-focused people mover, with CO2 emissions of just 89g/km and a spec-sheet claim of more than 60mp gallon.
Toyota Corolla Sedan
The top of four trim levels is the Excel, Lesser models get smaller wheels than these 18in two-tone items and go without privacy glass and electric door mirrors, though all come with LED headlights and body-coloured bumpers. Viewed side by side, the difference won’t appear that great.
All versions of the Corolla come well equipped. The entry-level Icon features heated seats, LED headlights and a reversing camera. Icon Tech is the probable best-seller, adding sat-nav and parking sensors. You have to opt for a Design grade before you can spec the 2.0-litre engine. It comes with rain-sensing wipers, folding door mirrors and rear privacy glass.
Range-topping Excel grade features the18-inch alloys, keyless entry and part-leather sports seats.
Fuel consumption, tested under WLTP, is rated at 55-65mpg for the 1.8 and 50-60mpg for the 2.0. This is much higher than you can expect from similarly powered conventional petrol cars.
Both engines offer adequate performance, with the 2.0-litre showing its extra performance at higher speeds. It can reach 60mph in 7.9 seconds – three seconds faster than the 1.8-litre car.
Cabin space is comparable with rival vehicles, although the 2.0-litre car has a smaller boot than others due to the battery.
Corolla Touring Sports
The Touring Sports has been made specifically for Europe and is built in Britain.It shares its engines with the latest Corolla hatchback and saloon, with the longer wheelbase of the latter yielding a bit more room in the backThe Touring Sports weighs a negligible amount more than the hatchback. So this remains a car that handles more than neatly enough for purpose,
It feels set up for comfort, something it’s very good at. It rides softly – even if you push its drive modes into their sportiest setting – and if you aren’t too aggressive with the throttle it’s very quiet, unruffled and, whisper it quietly, refined..
One great thing about hybrids is how hushed they are when you’re just cruising around town. Because the electric motor can manage on its own in stop-start traffic, progress is virtually silent and the petrol engine doesn’t spoil the peace much when it does cut in to provide assistance.
On faster roads, though, particularly those with inclines, the Corolla Touring Sports’ petrol engine begins to whine away noticeably. The culprit lies within its CVT automatic gearbox, which causes engine revs to abruptly soar during moderate to hard acceleration, remaining high until you reach your chosen cruising speed. This issue is more pronounced with the 1.8 engine than the punchier 2.0-litre.
Tyre and wind noise in the 1.8-litre hybrid aren’t as well suppressed as they might be, but the 2.0-litre hybrid is better, thanks to the fitments of ‘acoustic’ side glass.
Thanks to a driver’s seat that’s easy to adjust vertically and back and forth, with a steering wheel that does the same, you’ll have few issues getting comfy behind the wheel.Every Corolla Touring Sports trim level comes with electric adjustable lumbar support as standard, and this helps make it a great choice for covering long distances.
You won’t complain about your view of the road ahead or out of the side windows at junctions. Relatively chunky rear pillars mean over-the-shoulder visibility isn’t perfect, but it’s fair to say that rivals are no better and every Corolla Touring Sports comes with a reversing camera to help mitigate the issue. There are also front and rear parking sensors on all but entry-level Icon models.
Powerful LED headlights are fitted as standard across the range and are a boon at night. In most rivals, you’ll either need to pay extra or upgrade to a posh trim level for comparable technology.The 8.0in touchscreen is positioned helpfully high on the dashboard and is easy to see and reach without distracting you too much from driving. Sat-nav is standard from Icon Tech trim up.
The Corolla Touring Sports’ interior is solidly made, with plenty of soft-touch materials that lend it a competitively plush feel. In fact, the Corolla feels positively upmarket both in terms of look and feel
You won’t struggle to fit – even if you’re really tall. The front seats slide back a long way on their runners and you’re unlikely to feel hemmed in. The interior is wide enough across to keep some space between you and your passenger, too.
The door pockets are on the small side, but you’ll find plenty of room elsewhere, thanks to a generous glove box and various trays and bins dotted about. You also get the obligatory twin cup-holders in the centre console.
The rear seats don’t recline or do anything else particularly clever, but nor do those in the Corolla Touring Sports’ rivals.Still, they do fold with a 60/40 split. Operation – either by tugging levers next to the rear head restraints or by using the separate lever pulls located on either side of the boot wall – is straightforward, in typical Toyota style.
As with the Corolla hatch, if you’re after a big boot, be careful which Touring Sports you buy; the luggage capacity you’re granted depends on which engine you choose, because of the battery placement in the boot floor.
If you want a hybrid estate car of this size, the Corolla Touring Sports really is in a class of one.
In theory, there’s one truly compelling reason to choose a Corolla Touring Sports as your next company car:low CO2 emissions. The 1.8-litre hybrid model emits as little as 76g/km, which puts it in one of the lowest benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax bands in this class, and even the more powerful 2.0-litre hybrid emits less than 90g/km which is phenomenal! Only the entry-level 1.2-litre non-hybrid petrol isn’t particularly competitive on the CO2 front.
Meanwhile,fuel economy figures for the hybrid models are among the best in the family car class. You are likely to manage over 60mpg for the 1.8 Hybrid, although it’s worth noting that hybrids tend to be at their most economical around town, so don’t expect the same if you regularly traverse Britain’s motorways.
But what about as a private buy? Well, we reckon the Corolla Touring Sports makes plenty of sense. Yes, it’ll cost you more to buy than some of its rivals,but it will more than likely have much better resale values than most of them.
Like every other Toyota, the Corolla Touring Sports comes with a five-year/100,000-mile warranty as standard. That’s longer cover than you get with most family cars.
Toyota Corolla Hatch
The Hatch look far more stylish than the Auris it replaces. Both the 1.8-litre and the 2.0-litre hybrids can return over 60mpg, with CO2 emissions that are sure to make them a hit with company-car drivers. Ranging from 76g to 89g/km the Corolla hybrid’s low emissions qualify it for Benefit-in-Kind liability of 19%, bringing a company car tax saving of around £1,500 in three years though these tax rules are liable to change over time.
While the 1.8-litre hybrid will be familiar to anyone who’s driven a Prius, the 2.0-litre is all-new and gets the Hatch from 0-62mph in just 7.9 seconds with better acceleration up to motorway speeds.
The Corolla handles better than most will expect too, the experience sitting somewhere between the poise, accuracy and familiarity of the Ford Focus and the reassuringly smooth feel of the Volkswagen Golf. That’s not bad and the Hatch is sharp and agile which is not a description that you often link to a Toyota unless its for the likes of the new GRSupra.
Soft materials and neat design touches give the Hatch’s interior a comfortable feel, and features like LED headlights and a rear-view camera really do come as standard on the entry-level Icon trim. So does an eight-inch infotainment display – although on closer inspection this is one of the worst features of the Corolla. It just doesn’t feel as slick as the systems in the best rivals and misses out on Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. We expect this one to be upgraded sharpish once it hits the UK’s sales floors as the infotainment system is key for most these days.
Hatch owners are likely to be looking for hassle-free motoring and here the Toyota scores again. The usual Toyota five-year/100,000-mile warranty is competitive, but with Toyota’s reliability record – especially for hybrid models – they probably won’t need it. Plenty of standard safety kit helped the car score five stars in Euro NCAP safety tests.
All models get a full suite of safety systems as standard, and it’s pretty exhaustive. There’s a crash mitigation system that works between 6mph and 112mph, an adaptive cruise control system that can stop the car in traffic, pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane-keep assist that will help steer the car through corners as well as in straight lines and road sign recognition.
All but the base trim get a 7in TFT instrument display and sat nav while upgrading brings parking sensors and self-steering park assist.
The Hatch is about as quiet and calming as hatchbacks get, so long as you don’t work its rather coarse CVT transmission too hard. In summary, it has great cost savings and efficiencies for business users, it will hold its value relatively well and it has a fantastic warranty – the Toyota Corolla – it sure has come a long way!
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