Lifestyle

Road test: Toyota Corolla has new look, but reliable as ever

The new Toyota Corolla.
The new Toyota Corolla.

THERE is little doubt that the Toyota Corolla is one of the most popular cars in the world - nearly 40 million sales in five decades bears testimony to the fact.

Prized for its reliability, drive quality and resale value this nuggety performer made a name for the Japanese manufacturer at a time when European giants were flailing.

It is this reputation, gained at the coalface of hard knocks, that has carried Toyota through the later years with many cars in that stable still chosen on nostalgia alone.

This Toyota Corolla, the 11th edition, may look amazingly different from the trailblazer that first rolled off the production line some 46 years ago but the premise remains the same.

Despite its new sporty exterior, its true value remains beneath the skin, with its dependable nature convincing buyers to seal the deal.

Comfort

The interior of the Corolla doesn't really complement the sporty exterior - in fact it is somewhat disappointing.

Of course you expect hard plastics in a car in this price range but these are dark and gloomy, making the inside rather foreboding. The cloth seats are stylish and pretty comfortable except for in the small of the back. The steering, nice and weighty to the touch, is adjustable for both height and reach. Instruments are clear and concise, the large centre console is a thing of the past but the straight almost vertical dash is unlikely to find favour.

The Toyota Corolla.
The Toyota Corolla.

The Corolla has been lowered by 55mm but so have the seats and although taller passengers have to stoop to get in, once seated the headroom is pretty fair for a small car.

Legroom is good for children, less so for adults and we were surprised by the miserly portion reserved for the driver.

There are fewer storage spaces than you would expect and at 280 litres the boot is on the smallish side although admittedly that is much improved (1120 litres) when the 60:40 rear seats are folded.

On the road

Under the skin the Corolla remains largely unchanged with the same 1.8-litre engine powering our six-speed manual, although the gears feel considerably smoother than the previous model. The drive is quite obviously Toyota's strength and this one is accompanied with excellent dynamics, good steering feel and a zippy demeanour.

True, the "sport" on the badge is more for display purposes than actual performance but it has enough grunt to keep you honest.

This is a car suited to the quick changes of city driving and is nimble on its feet and quick to respond. It is quite able when you do take it out on the highway with variable road noise, sturdy travel in the wet and an efficiency over irregular road surfaces. Annoyingly it is sometimes difficult to make clean gear changes with the Corolla continuing to rev even when you have released the clutch in time and you are no longer troubling the accelerator. We didn't test the CVT ($2000 more) but reports of its performance are glowing.

Toyota have tried to improve their inclusions in order to keep the faithful and, let's face it, with the pace set by its rivals this is certainly an area that needed attention.

Our Ascent Sport included 16-inch alloys, rear privacy glass, power windows, Bluetooth with steering wheel audio and phone controls as well as cruise control, reverse camera and six-speaker CD audio. The mid-range Levin SX adds sat-nav and 17-inch alloys while the range topping Levin ZR ($28,490) lays claim to push-button start, bi-xenon headlights, dual-zone climate control, leather trim and LED daytime running lights. Safety is five-star across the range courtesy of seven airbags, ABS with electronic brake force distribution and brake assist, stability control and traction control.

Other contenders

The Mazda 3 (from $20,330) and Hyundai i30 (from $20,990) are leading the pack with the Ford Focus (from $20,290), Holden Cruze (from $21,490) and Kia Cerato (from $19,640) also holding their own.

Practicality

Toyota is looking to the Corolla to both attract and keep young upwardly mobile singles and couples who work and live close to the city. To that end it is a car that has suitable comfort levels, driving dynamics, exterior design advantages and an excellent price tag.

Driving position is good and vision pretty decent but it does sometimes feel tinny and cheap, especially when you are closing the doors. The small boot of the hatch and back seat make it less suitable but not impossible for a growing family.

The sedan is available later this year so that may change the game a bit.

Running costs

The official combined average figure for the manual is 7.1 litres/100km and we stuck close although we did do quite a bit of highway driving. Insurance and licence costs are on the low range of the scale and as always Toyota can lay claim to high resale values.

New Toyotas come with a three-year/100,000km warranty which can be extended for a further three years, and fixed-price servicing ($130 per service) for the first three years or 60,000km.

Funky factor

As is Toyota's pattern when it comes to freshened up models, the Corolla Hatch has had an extensive exterior makeover with its streamlined upper grille, lower bumper grille, slim headlights and highlighted curves with bold lines adding to the sporty feel.

The lowdown

The Corolla Hatch is not a car to get the pulse racing or glean nods of admiration as it basks in the sun on your driveway. But then again that was never a promise it made. It is, however, a good drive and a trusty companion and with a price hovering around the $20,000 mark is worth a look.

What matters most

What we liked: Driving dynamics, sporty exterior.

What we'd like to see: More style inside. Cruise control on steering rather than stalk.

Warranty: Toyota offers a three-year/100,000 km warranty and three-year/60,000km fixed-price servicing.

Vital statistics

Model: Toyota Corolla Hatch.

Details: Four-door front-wheel drive hatch.

Transmission: Six-speed manual or seven-speed CVT.

Engine: 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol generating maximum power of 103kW at 6400rpm and peak torque of 173Nm at 4000rpm.

Consumption: 7.1 litres/100km average.

Bottom line: from $20,990

The Toyota Corolla Levin.
The Toyota Corolla Levin.

Topics:  motoring, road test, toyota corolla


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Don't call us killers: RSPCA CEO

RSPCA CEO Mark Townend.

Criticism of the service and its rates of euthanasia

What price would you put on a kid's 'miracle'?

At nine years of age, Quiń had an accident that caused a cataract to one of his eyes. In an instant; this little boy with his whole life ahead of him faced a future of blindness.

Thousands of Aussies joining campaign to restore sight to kids

Latest deals and offers

Police and SES crews find missing Boonah woman

UPDATE: The woman reported missing in the Carneys Creek area has been found safe and well.

Don't call us killers: RSPCA CEO

RSPCA CEO Mark Townend.

Criticism of the service and its rates of euthanasia

Sunday a family day of fun

FUN: Christopher and Jess are looking forward to the Family Fun Day.

Church plans an event that will have the kids cheering

QLD: Gunmen on the run, shots fired

Police are searching for a white Nissan Patrol seen leaving the area at the time of the incident.

The incident occurred at about 10am on Spencer St

Ipswich CBD: Police tell 1000 to move on

Police staffing levels in the mall is high. Photo: Rob Williams / The Queensland Times

'Undesirables' targeted in Ipswich CBD police blitz

Patti Smith confirmed for Bluesfest 2017

CONFIRMED: US singer Patti Smith performing in Switzerland last year.

Find out who else in the first line up announcement

The Hard Word reviews Kyzer Soze

Kyzer Soze are playing Brisbane tomorrow at the Crowbar in Fortitude Valley. Photo Contributed

Kyzer Soze summon the evil for this mighty slab of death metal

Britney Spears 'almost drowned' in Hawaii

Britney Spears has revealed she 'almost drowned' while on holiday

Doco reveals real story behind Black Hawk Down

Former Black Hawk pilot Mike Durant shares his story, which helped to inspire the movie Black Hawk Down, in the TV series No Man Left Behind.

FORMER pilot recounts ordeal which inspired a Hollywood movie.

What's on the big screen this week

Toby Kebbell and Jack Huston in a scene from the movie Ben-Hur.

AN OLD classic returns to the big screen with a new young star.

Bachelor Richie gives bacon-loving Noni the boot

Noni Janur features on this season of The Bachelor.

TOOWOOMBA swimwear designer still single but focusing on her career.

Zumbo's Just Desserts serves up magical dishes

Gigi Falanga, left, joins hosts Adriano Zumbo and Rachel Khoo on the TV series Zumbo's Just Desserts.

ADRIANO Zumbo’s decadent creations have become prime-time viewing.

ISLAND FOR SALE: Cheap Fraser Coast island drops price again

Suna Island in the Great Sandy Strait will be auctioned by Ray White Hervey Bay on Saturday morning.

This is the cheapest island you will find for sale in Australia

How a family home can fit on a 250sq m block

This is what you can build on 250m2.

Here's the floor plan of a home built on 250sq m

$100m plan for Curtis Island 'world class' luxury resort

$100 million resort: Top views at Turtle Street at Curtis Island.

"At the moment we think it meets all the town planning approvals.”

Coast building approvals at seven-year high: report

The the 2015/16 Development Indicators Annual Highlights Report documents local development activity that took place during the last financial year.

New report shows increasing development on the Sunshine Coast

Top honours for Mackay and Whitsunday builders

The Kerrisdale Gardens property from Paynter Dixon Queensland which won them Project of the Year.

Mackay and Whitsunday builders awarded top honours last night.

Investors eye Gladstone's $4m island with resort approval

UP FOR SALE: Turtle Island is on the market.

CHINESE and Sydney investors flag interest in Gladstone island.