What is it?
The new Toyota Corolla is the brand’s latest mid-sized family car, replacing the Auris, which back in 2006 replaced the Corolla…
- Hatch, estate and saloon body styles
- Hybrids dominate drivetrain choices
- More space, more safety
Toyota has revived the Corolla for Europe with the most effective model line yet.
This is a car not for hot-hatch fans but mainstream buyers, who will be happy with the eco-friendly hybrid drivetrain encased in a car that offers more space than its predecessor and looks a whole lot more attractive.
Remember the Toyota Corolla? The family car that – along with the Vauxhall Vectra – was frequently the butt of Jeremy Clarkson’s jokes back when he was on some BBC programme called Top Gear?
This was a car with a reputation for being so dull that in 2006 Toyota canned the name, at least in Europe, for a new moniker called the Auris. But now the Corolla’s back, replacing – you guessed it – the Auris. What’s going on?
Well, the Corolla was an easy target for Clarkson because there were so many of them around. They were dull, but bought in their millions worldwide because they were so damned reliable.
And while the Auris name was used in Europe, around the rest of the world the same car continued to sell quite happily as the Corolla. The Auris, meanwhile, never really seemed to attract quite the level of dependable loyalty of its much more familiar predecessor.
So when Toyota came to produce the 12th generation of its family car, on an all-new platform which would allow major changes over its predecessor, it seemed sensible to revive the old name.
The brand insists the Auris did quite well thank you, selling 13,400 in its last year, but we are also told that when told of the name change dealers were delighted, and you do get the sense a line has been drawn under a decade everyone is happy to consign to history.
Particularly as the new car is a sea change over the old one. One can’t deny the Auris was dull to look at, while this new Corolla has purposeful and attractive visuals no matter which version you are viewing.
There will be three versions, each with notably different front and rear styling treatments. Most buyers will go for the five-door hatch, but the estate-bodied Touring Sports is also expected to sell well.
Both will be built, like the Auris, at Toyota’s UK plant in Burnaston, Derbyshire, but Toyota UK will also be experimenting by bringing in the four-door Corolla Sedan – traditionally saloon bodies on mainstream cars have proved far less popular in the UK than in Europe as a whole…
The Corolla competes against some of the biggest hitters in the market (think Focus, Astra, Golf…) but Toyota believes it has one unique advantage – some nine out of ten Corolla sales are likely to be with petrol-electric hybrid engines.
Buying and owning a Toyota Corolla
The new Corolla is based, like the latest RAV4 SUV that is also launching at the same time, on Toyota’s latest modular platform, dubbed TNGA (Toyota New Generation Architecture). What this means is that the designers had far more freedom to move the important bits about to create the three body shapes and that distinctive styling, while also freeing up more interior space.
For now, we are concentrating on the hatch and estate as they are available from launch, with the saloon arriving in showrooms a little later.
UK buyers will be offered a choice of four trim levels and three engines. Two of these will be petrol-electric hybrid units – the existing 1.8-litre version plus a new 2.0-litre. And Toyota expects these to take some 90% of sales.
The remainder will be courtesy of a 1.2-litre petrol unit, for those who simply refuse to go electric. There is no diesel option – with European diesel sales sliding more than 30%, Toyota sees no likely demand for the oil burner.
The trims are familiar to Toyota buyers. Base level is Icon, followed by Icon Tech, Design and the range-topping Excel. You can’t buy either Icon variant with the 2.0-litre hybrid, or the Excel with the 1.2-litre petrol engine.
Prices start from £21,300 for the Icon petrol, the 1.8-litre hybrid version costing £2,450 more. It comes with some niceties including dual-zone climate control, auto LED headlamps, an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system, heated seats and a reversing camera.
More importantly, standard on all cars is Toyota’s Safety Sense 2 suite of technologies. These include adaptive cruise control that can stop-start in traffic jams (except on the petrol version where it operates only at higher speeds) and autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection.
A lane-keeping aid is also included – the petrol makes do with a lane departure warning that will steer the car back when it strays, while the hybrids have a ‘Lane Trace Assist’ keeping the car centred in its lane. Euro NCAP hasn’t crash-tested the Corolla yet but Toyota expects top marks.
It’s the extras on the Icon Tech that are expected to make this version the most popular Corolla. For an extra £1,050, it adds navigation with voice activation plus a seven-inch driver display.
Design puts another £1,025 on the bill, while the more powerful 2.0-litre hybrid becomes available at £1,725 more than the 1.8-litre. Extras added range across 17-inch machined alloy wheels, auto folding mirrors and wipers, privacy glass and LED fog lamps.
Finally there is the Excel, with 18-inch alloy wheels on the hatchback, bi-LED lamps, keyless entry and sports seats with part-leather upholstery. This comes at £27,345 for the 1.8-litre hybrid, £1,520 more than a Design equivalent.
One notable and surprising absentee from the specification list is smartphone compatibility through Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Toyota says it’s working on a solution to this, which could be introduced by the end of 2019. Strange when just about every other brand seems to have no problem offering this very useful tech on even its smallest cars…
Continued on next page: Interior, drive experience and our verdict