MALLORCA, SPAIN – The Corolla has dominated South Africa’s compact-car segment for 30 years and remains the flag bearer for Toyota’s passenger vehicle line-up. The next generation Corolla is set for introduction – and production – in Mzansi in early 2014 and the jewel in its crown is likely to be an all-new 1,4-litre turbodiesel model. Clad in a sophisticated, spacious shell replete with a smart, feature-packed interior, the Corolla will have a renewed focus on durability, reliability and value for money.
Longer, lower and wider than its predecessor, the new Corolla incorporates the Toyota brand’s Keen Look and Under Priority styling motifs, but what does that mean from a seeing-it-in-the-metal experience? Well, 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 and at the back, protruding wraparound tail-lamp clusters and a chrome bar contribute to a wedge-like rear three-quarter profile… In short, the Corolla has an almost compact-executive-like kerb presence.
The most notable aspect of the Corolla’s interior is the huge stride that Toyota’s has taken in increasing the space afforded to rear passengers. Even though the newcomer falls into the compact class, there is generous rear leg- and headroom at the back. The horizontal, cliff-like facia architecture of the Auris has been carried over, but the new dashboard sports piano-black finish to the infotainment system, a soft-touch dashboard and sophisticated dark grey accents. The driver’s seat is positioned low for a more engaging driving position and the quality of the stitching of the fabric trim feels sophisticated but durable. The instrument panel features youthful, sporty lettering and though the cyan colour of the digital clock readout seems at odds with the black LCD display of the dual-zone climate control system, the cool blue backlighting of the instrument cluster and facia brings everything in sync.
The 1,4-litre D4-D turbodiesel motor, which is confirmed for introduction in South Africa, looks set to banish memories of executing overtakes and hill ascents in a Corolla while being deafened by a zingy, strained engine note. With maximum torque of 205 N.m available from 1 800 to 2 800 r/min, the turbodiesel is mated with a positive-shifting six-speed manual transmission and makes commuting far less of a gearbox-churning affair. Toyota claims a average fuel consumption of 3,8 litres/100 km and CO2 emissions of 99 g/km, and if the motor is somewhat more vocal than one would expect, the Corolla compensates with good road noise suppression and an absorbent overall ride quality.
Although final specification and pricing details will only be confirmed after the new-generation Corolla will be shown to the South African public at the Johannesburg International Motor Show later this year, CAR can reveal that the so-called Mid Grade specification of the newcomer will be offered with a Toyota Touch infotainment system with a Bluetooth phone connectivity and audio streaming, as well as a reverse-view display and leather as standard. The cars we tested on the international media reveal offered dual-zone climate and cruise control, seat heating, keyless entry and start and even a park assist system – all of which is under consideration for local specification models. As was the case with the recent introduction of the RAV4 and price repositioning of the Yaris line-up, Toyota South Africa Motors will place competitive pricing first and foremost with the launch of the new Corolla.
Model: Toyota Corolla 1,4 D4-D 6MT
Engine: inline, four-cylinder, turbocharged
Capacity: 1 364 cm3
Power: 66 kW
Torque: 205 N.m
0-100 km/h: 12,5 secs
Fuel consumption: 3,8 L/100 km
Top speed: 180 km/h
CO2 emissions: 99 g/km
*According to the manufacturer.