Twelfth-generation Toyota Corolla is huge leap forward in most respects

The all-new 2019 Toyota Corolla is due to arrive in Australia early in the new year.

One aspect of this car, along with the current model is that it’s available with a standard petrol engine but a hybrid powertrain as well. And it’s a pity that more people aren’t aware of this fact. Toyota has been into hybrid technology for a long time, in fact they were the very first volume company to offer the option. Where most of the Europeans went with a diesel engine along with their petrol offerings, Toyota seemed to foresee that Hybrid technology would take the lead. And hybrid (petrol and electric) seems to be set for a very sustainable future.

Bill McKinnon from The Australian wrote this article which was published today. I’m happy to share Bill’s comprehensive review.

Toyota Corolla

The 2018 Toyota Corolla Ascent Sport petrol manual – A Toyota with Style

The 2018 Toyota Corolla Ascent Sport petrol manual.

By BILL MCKINNON from The Australian

Sports utility vehicles outsold passenger cars for the first time in Australia last year. Next year, the small car — still the top-selling individ­ual model class in Aust­ralia, led by the Toyota Corolla — will be overtaken by mid-size, five-seater SUVs, with Mazda’s CX5 out in front.

So the SUV’s appropriation of the hearts, minds and wallets of suburban Australia will be ­complete.

The Corolla, though, is such a fixture on the motoring landscape that it will undoubtedly survive the SUV epoch, no matter how long that lasts. It is the constantly evolving, perfectly formed specimen of the every person’s car.

The world’s top seller, with more than 45 million built since the first generation in 1966, ­the Corolla has also been Australia’s most popular car for the past five years.

 

 

It will take the title again this year, followed by the Mazda 3, Hyund­ai i30 and VW Golf.

While the Corolla has always been well-built, reliable, safe and ­efficient, it has, as a rule, established no class benchmarks. Budget­-priced, set-and-forget mot­oring is its main attraction.

The new 12th-generation ­Corolla is a huge leap forward in most respects.

It still does what a Corolla is supposed to do but adds much-improved driving ­dynamics, performance, safety, comfort, ­refinement and polish to its utilitarian virtues.

DESIGN

In 2011, worried that his company was making appliances rather than real cars, Toyota’s global chief Akio Toyoda issued an edict that, henceforth, the company’s new product should be fun to drive.

The 2018 Corolla hatch is the clearest manifestation yet of this approach. It rolls on new architecture ­engineered to improve the way the car responds to driver inputs and sits on the road, with a lower centre of ­gravity, finer balance, greater rigidity and independent suspension at both ends. What we have here, folks is a Corolla with ­genuine sporty ­aspirations.

Its sophisticated chassis is complemented by a much more potent petrol drivetrain. A new 2.0-litre four produces 125kW of power and 200Nm of torque — gains of 21 per cent and 15 per cent, respectively, over the 1.8-litre engine it replaces.

A continuously variable automatic (CVT) still drives the front wheels, now with a “launch” ratio to overcome the lethargic initial response inherent in this type of transmission.

A six-speed manual is available only in the base Ascent Sport (picture­d above), priced at $22,870. CVT adds $1500 and is standard in the $26,870 SX and top-spec ZR, at $30,370.

Given the present spike in petro­l prices, the decline of diesel and a growing trend towards alternative energy propulsion, Toyota Australia has shown impeccable timing with its decision to increase the number of Corolla hybrid variants from one to three.

A 1.8-litre petrol/twin electric motor generator/nickel metal hydride battery powertrain, based on the Prius, adds $1500 to each petrol model grade.

Bulletproof reli­ability and low running costs are part of the deal with a Toyota. A Corolla costs just $875 to service over five years/75,000km — the cheapest maintenance on the market. And if you buy one and anything ever goes wrong with it, please contact The Australian, because that will be newsworthy.

Toyota Corolla

Toyota’s new Corolla has a supportive, well-bolstered seat, with ample driving-position adjustment, a stylish, efficient dash, and higher-quality plastics.

CABIN

It’s a gains and losses story here, with the aggressively styled new body designed more for aesthetic appeal than functionality and space. Rear-seat access and legroom are fairly tight for taller adults, though this also applies to Corolla’s rivals. Boot space is ridiculou­sly underdone at just 217 litres. That’s close to half the volum­e of the Golf, which offers 380 litres, and less than much smaller cars such as VW’s Polo and Toyota’s Yaris.

Upfront, though, the new ­Corolla’s driver focus is obvious, with a supportive, well-bolstered seat, with ample driving-position adjustment, a ­stylish, ­efficient dash, and higher-quality plastics.

DRIVING

It’s been decades since a Corolla could hold its own with the best drives in its class but the new model is good enough to give the benchmark VW Golf a run for its money.

The ride is comfortable, controlle­d and quiet, yet dynamics are agile, taut and exceptionally ­secure, with a noticeably tighter body and light, precise steering.

Corolla’s petrol engine is willing and responsive, revving freely to almost 7000rpm.

Its lack of bottom-end torque is effectively masked by the CVT, which gets it off the line smartly and quickly finds the ­optimum revs for refined, effic­ient cruising.

Less powerful, but with a deceptively strong, tractable mid-range, the hybrid makes its case in city traffic, where it uses about half as much fuel — 4.5-4.8L/100km, on regular unleaded — as the 2.0-litre petrol drivetrain.

In Eco mode, with a gentle right foot, driving at suburban street speeds, you’ll often be running on battery power alone for short ­distances.

On the highway, though, where the hybrid’s engine is running all the time, with the added drag of two electric motor/generators, it will use more fuel — 5.5L/100km on test, compared with 5.0L/100km for the 2.0-litre.

The Corolla hybrid’s carbon dioxi­de emissions of 97 grams per ­kilometre are by far the lowest in its class.

SAFETY AND EQUIPMENT

Infotainment features a high-mounted eight-inch touchscreen, voice control that works for all functions and seamless Bluetooth with email and SMS. Apple CarPlay and Androi­d Auto connectivity are absen­t, though. Navigation, packaged with live traffic alerts, adds $1000 to Ascent Sport.

It’s standard on ZR, along with keyless entry and starting, dual-zone air, heated front seats, ­leather/fake suede upholstery, JBL audio, digital radio and wireless phone charging.

At the mid-$20K price point, safety specification is best in class. Autonomous emergency braking works across the full speed range and includes pedestrian and cyclist detection. The adaptive cruise features effective lane-keeping, including Mercedes-style lane-centring that can be hit-and-miss depending upon ambient light and the clarity of road markings.

Seven airbags, speed-sign monitoring and automatic high beams are also standard. SX and ZR add blind spot monitoring; ZR also has a head-up display.

CONCLUSION

In the same week, I tested the ­Corolla, I also had a new Mer­cedes A200 hatch. The Toyota ­offered stronger performance, ­superior handling and a more comfortable ride.

The humble Corolla is humble no more, except when it comes to price, where it’s now better valued than ever.

TOYOTA COROLLA VITAL STATISTICS

Vehicle: Small hatchback, Engine: 2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol, 125kW and 200Nm; 1.8-litre petrol/electric hybrid, 90kW (combined; torque figure not quoted), Transmission: CVT with front-wheel drive, Average fuel consumption: 6.0L/100km (petrol); 4.2L/100km (hybrid), Safety: 5/5, Prices: (excludes on-road costs) $22,870-$31,870, On sale: Now, Rating:4/5