The brand new Toyota Corolla has really stepped up its game and they nailed it with this new design - both exterior and interior. The older Toyotas have a good reputation of being reliable and that you can count on a Toyota anytime, but the design was really boring ... until now.
It is obvious that the back end of any car is different from a sedan to a hatchback, but the frontend to be that different on the same model, this is pretty new to the car industry, at least to my knowledge. So, we had the new Toyota Corolla sedan and we'll talk about this one, though I like the hatchback more.
On the front of the car, you'll first notice the side vents (fake vents) that make the car to look really wide and aggressive, but then you’ll notice the blue Toyota logo that indicates that the car is a hybrid, so friendly with the environment. On the sedan, the huge middle opening on the front looks a bit weird, like it wants to eat you, but it didn’t really bother me as I got used to it. The headlights are simple and I like how the chromed lines from under the hood look like they are integrated with the headlights.
The side of the car is really simple, but the roofline is a bit too low and I'll tell you a little later why that's a problem. The car we tested comes equipped with 16 inches alloy wheel that are just fine for this car as they look alright and because they’re not too big, the ride is comfortable.
As for the back of the car, the taillights have a very simple and nice design and I like the way they integrated the chromed bar with the taillights as it looks elegant. Also, on the back, we can find the side vents that make the car look really wide, but the vents are , again, fake.
Moving to the interior, some people might say that it is too simple for today’s standards, but let me tell you that this is what I appreciate about Toyota, the simpicity! Everything is really simple and easy to use, the materials used in the places we usually touch are qualitative. The climate controls are very easy to use and simple, nothing fancy but practical.
The driving position is spot on and really easy to get comfortable behind the wheel as you can adjust the steering wheel in 4 ways (in, out, up, down). Also, the steering wheel is wrapped in leather, so it feels really good in hand. The car we had came equipped with a digital drivers display that you can use for different menus, like battery charge, where the power to the wheels comes from, fuel consumption and some other vehicle settings. What I really like is that you can change the view type, from an analog-like to a digital where it shows the speed with just numbers, no graphics, and the rest of the info. On each side of the screen you can find the analog rev counter, also the fuel gauge and water temperature gauges.
Regarding the infotainment, I felt like Toyota improved it a bit since the last version, but the screen is still quite low res for today’s standards. I mean, in any of its competitiors you can get better screens or overall systems. I like that it has a homepage divided in 3 with access to music, phone and car info, but why did it have a MAP button if the navigation was not an option on this car? Absolutely no idea …
As for performance, the new Corolla is available with 3 engines. The first one is the 1.6 naturally aspirated petrol with a 6 speed manual gearbox, 132 horsepower and 159 NM. The next 2 options are hybrids, 1.8 naturally aspirated + an electric motor connected to a CVT gearbox with 122 horsepower and 142 NM and the last one is a 2.0 naturally aspirated + an electric motor connected to a CVT gearbox that produces 180 HP and 190 NM. At this moment, not sure why, you can't configure the 2.0 Hybrid in
Romania and I hope they'll fix that as I would probably recommend that engine.
The car that we got to test drive was equipped with the 1.8 Hybrid engine and you should know that it is really good on mileage, but it is slow, especially from start. Once you start moving it goes really well, but it is very noisy once it passes 3000 RPM. That, I did not expect, for it to have such a noisy engine. I really hope that the next Corolla will have this taken care of.
The hybrid system works well and you can’t really feel when the petrol engine kicks in, but I hate that the petrol engine kicks in at over 38 kmh when you start rolling and sometimes, even if you have enough battery, you can’t switch to EV mode and it doesn’t tell you why – just “EV Mode not available”.
Of course, once you reach a certain speed and the car doesn’t need the petrol engine to stay at that speed, it might turn off the petrol engine, but when you accelerate, no matter how gentle you are, when you hit 38 kmh the petrol engine kicks in.
Room in the back is decent, not really suitable to carry 3 adults but 3 children will be fine and the boot has 368 litres of space - which is ok for your day to day use.
3 things I don’t like about the new Corolla:
The rearview camera is really low res.
The roofline that comes too low on the side makes it hard to fit a child seat, or even to put the child in the seat.
How noisy the engine is above 3000 RPM.
3 things I like about the new Corolla:
Really quiet inside if you stay under 2300 RPM and it makes the ride comfortable.
The design – there have been quite a few people coming up to me to ask about the car.
The simplicity of the interior – good job, Toyota!
Would I buy this car? The 1.8 Hybrid, not really. Probably the 2.0 Hybrid if it would be a bit more refined than the 1.8 Hybrid. Also, anytime you compare Toyota with any other brand from the competition, Toyota wins the reliability section, so there's some bonus points for them.
Price of the tested model: ~26.000 Euros (VAT included)
Engine and Gearbox: 1.8L (HEV special – Hybrid) with 122 HP and 142 NM + E-CVT gearbox.
Photos by: Clau Morar
Thank you Toyota Cluj for lending us the car, we really appreciate it!