Toyota recently launched the 11th version of its Corolla (we’ve only received the last seven) onto the local market. Here are our thoughts on the 1,8-litre Exclusive Multidrive S (aka CVT).
Longer, lower and wider than its predecessor, the new Toyota Corolla incorporates the Toyota brand’s new design direction. The squared-off corners and elongated three-box profile are typically Corolla, but the newcomer has a much more dynamic front end – the bars of the grille extend into the oversized LED-adorned trapezoidal headlamp clusters to give the saloon a broad, thrusting nose. The flanks sport character lines that emphasise the Corolla’s rear arches and the kicked-up leading edge of the side glass. At the back, protruding wraparound tail-lamp clusters and a chrome bar contribute to a wedge-like rear three-quarter profile.
The most notable aspect of the Corolla’s interior is the generous amount of rear legroom that if offers. Also, despite the cliff-like facia architecture of the Auris that has been carried over, the interior looks upmarket thanks to the piano-black finish to the infotainment system, a soft-touch dashboard and sophisticated dark grey accents.
Under the bonnet lies a 103 kW, 1,8 litre engine with 173 N.m of torque. The performance is best described as acceptable and easy with smooth power delivery and a gradual increase in speed. Overtaking manoeuvres would have to be well-timed as the engine feels rather lifeless. It’s mated with a CVT ‘box that is smooth acting and will aid in fuel consumption. The usual CVT drone is there, but it’s not too bad when simply cruising around town.
The Corolla has good road noise suppression and an absorbent overall ride quality. Dynamically, while it won’t thrill the senses, it’s not as dull and humdrum as I expected it to be. There’s a decent amount of feel to the steering as well as little body roll. Toyota claims that weight reduction, clever suspension geometry and improvements to steering responsiveness have all helped in this area.
This particular model comes with all the safety, comfort and convenience spec that Toyota could throw at it, including ABS with EBD and brake assist, six airbags, leather upholstery, cruise control, steering wheel-mounted audio controls and an audio system that can play CDs, DVDs, USB devices and a Bluetooth connection.
Overall, the new Corolla is massively different to the old one on almost every level. But it had to be. Since the launch of the outgoing generation, the Koreans have come in and impressed the masses with their cars that not only offer the practically and family appeal that buyers in this segment demand, but also given them cars that look good and that come with added bells and whistles. So, the question really is whether or not the new Corolla can claw back some of its lost ground. My answer is … perhaps. It has what it takes to keep the loyal Toyota supporters and it has the potential to win over some others. Honestly, it will still outsell the Koreans and I think the new one is a solid product, but I don’t think the Corolla will ever be the darling of the C-segment sedan market again. Too much has happened in the car market and South African buyers are very much aware that there is more on offer out there. That says more about the South African public than the Corolla, though.
Model: Toyota Corolla 1,8-litre Exclusive Multidrive S
Engine: 1,8-litre, 4-cylinder petrol
Power: 103 kW @ 6 400 r/min
Torque: 173 N.m @ 4 000 r/min
0-100 km/h: 10,2 seconds
Fuel consumption: 6,4 litres/100 km
CO2: 152 g/km
Top speed: 195 km/h
Price: R283 900
Service plan: 5 years/90 000 km
Service intervals: 15 000 km
You can read a driving impression on the diesel model here and look out for road test on the 1,6-litre Corolla in the March issue of CAR, on sale 24 February.