Some 14 years after the Toyota Auris name replaced the Corolla we see the return of the World’s best-selling car brand name – Corolla – and it’s on sale in the UK from the new registration plate change month of March.
The past generation Corollas achieved over 46-million global sales since they were launched in 1966 and the new range is priced from £21,300 to £30,340 with 21 derivatives on offer and the lowest priced Hybrid is £23,750.
Like the Auris range it replaces, the 12th generation five-door Corolla Hatchback and Touring Sports estate petrol and hybrid models are being built in the UK at Toyota’s Burnaston factory in Derbyshire for European markets while a new Corolla Saloon added to the line up in hybrid form and is built in Turkey.
Toyota Manufacturing UK at Deeside North Wales produces the 1.8-litre petrol engine for the hybrid models.
The all-new Corolla range marks the debut of Toyota’s new dual hybrid powertrain strategy. The Hatchback and Touring Sports are the first models to offer UK customers a choice of two self-charging petrol-electric hybrid powertrains; an improved 1.8-litre with 120bhp and a new 2.0-litre system developing 178bhp both with CVT auto transmissions.
The Saloon is available with hybrid power for the first time, adopting the 1.8-litre hybrid powertrain. Reflecting Toyota’s focus on self-charging hybrid technology, there is just one conventional engine option available for the Hatchback and Touring Sports variants, an 112bhp 1.2-litre Turbo petrol unit with a 6-speed manual gearbox. No diesel engine is available for any model.
|Toyota say by using the latest technology platform brings multiple benefits including improved driving dynamics thanks to a lower centre of gravity, a balanced chassis and a more rigid body plus the requirement to fit the driving support safety technologies. It also allows for sportier styling over the previous bland Corolla and Auris offerings in the highly competitive C-segment. Principal competitors are the Ford Focus, Volkswagen Golf, Vauxhall Astra and Skoda Octavia but there are many more.
Depending on the body style, the equipment grade structure available is Icon, Icon Tech, Design and Excel.
The Excel grade is all-hybrid, offered with both the 1.8 and 2.0-litre systems. The Saloon is only offered with the 1.8 hybrid power source and with all spec grades except the top level Excel.
Across the complete range all models are equipped with the enhanced functions of the second generation of Toyota Safety Sense.
Starting point Icon models are equipped as standard with features including 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic LED headlights, eCall connectivity, heated front seats, Toyota Touch 2 with eight-inch multimedia touchscreen, reversing camera, DAB radio, 4.2-inch colour TFT multi-information display, dual-zone air conditioning
|At the European media launch held in Majorca last week, Paul Van de Burgh, President and Managing Director Toyota GB said in the UK they have sold a total of 101,479 Auris models during its lifetime with 13,394 units in the last full year of sales.
He did say they expect to retain a 50-50 sales split between retail and business/fleet customers. With 90% of retail customers using a PCP finance scheme for their purchases the Corolla 42-month monthly rates range from £210 to £244.
He added that 60% of UK Corolla customers will choose the Hatchback models, 35% the Touring Sports estates and 5% the Saloon.
He said, “We did well with the larger Avensis Saloon which is now discontinued and customers could see the Corolla Saloon as a possible replacement hence the reason we have added it to the line-up”.
Overall he expects 90% of UK customers to choose a hybrid powertrain with the 1.8 Hybrid being the more popular.
The single best selling version will be the 1.8 Hybrid Icon Tech Hatchback priced at £24,800 with a 42-month PCP cost of £219 per month.
As for size, both the Hatchback and Touring Sports offer five doors and five seats, the Saloon four doors and five seats but they slightly vary in wheelbases.
As for power outputs, fuel economy, CO2 emission figures and performance; briefly the new 1.2T petrol unit has 114bhp, 185Nm of torque, Combined WLTP fuel consumption depending on model and wheel size of 39.4 to 47.24mpg with CO2 from 128g/km.
The revised 1.8-litre self charging hybrid system develops 120bhp, 142Nm of engine torque plus 163Nm of electric motor torque. The Combined WLTP figures are 55.4 to 65.9mpg depending on the body style and wheel size.
The CO2 emissions are from 76g/km.
The all-new 2.0-litre hybrid system develops 178bhp and 190Nm engine torque with the larger 80kW electric motor adding 202Nm of torque from zero rpm.
The Combined WLTP figures range from 50.4 to 60.6mpg, again depending on model and spec but all versions are shown with 89g/km CO2 emissions so VED and BiK tax costs are the same as the 1.8-litre models.
All models are covered by Toyota’s 5-year/100,000-mile warranty.
With so much new about the revised Corolla and with is much more appealing and sharper styling inside and out, plus uprated power sources with improved fuel economy and performance, it’s probably justifiable giving the new range a new name other than another Auris generation.
All the models tried gave good feedback through the front wheels, the handling was sharp and all three body types felt well-balanced. Most surprising and pleasing was the excellent ride comfort even when the larger wheels were fitted.
The hatchback’s rear passenger seat legroom we thought was on the skimpy side and we much preferred the extra rear legroom provided by the longer wheelbase estate and saloon models although the headroom in the rear of all three versions is not plentiful.
In terms of exterior styling, the hatchback looks the most sporty with good kerb appeal but it is noticeable how much shorter the hatchback appears than the estate or saloon which seem to have a bit more elegance about them.
Inside for all three body styles there is a significant improvement over the outgoing Auris models. There is better functionality, ergonomics and quality with ample soft-touch trim surfaces with ample driving support technology right through the four grade levels. But the user-friendliness of the sat-nav and infotainment system lags behind other brands in this sector.
For our Majorcan test-driving schedule there were no 1.2T turbo petrol powered models available reflecting its likely low demand.
The main selling and revised 1.8-litre Hybrid unit with its CVT transmission will be perfectly acceptable for most drivers given the amount of traffic congestion we suffer in the UK.
The hybrid unit works well with the CVT transmission but it is still fairly vocal during brisk acceleration.
Under lighter load, driving in traffic the engine/electric motor combination is ideal for today’s driving conditions and fuel efficient.
Given the new 2.0-litre Hybrid unit is only available in higher spec levels I wouldn’t pay £2,750 more in Hatchback form than the 1.8 Hybrid model with the best selling Icon Tech model we tested which costs £24,800.
The fuel economy during our test driving for this best selling hatchback version was 59mpg.
We also drove this 1.8 Hybrid unit in the new Saloon which for the Icon Tech spec level costs the same as the Hatchback. Our test drive fuel consumption for this Saloon was 53mpg.
The new 2.0-litre self charging Hybrid power unit mated with a CVT automatic gearbox with six artificial gearchange steps felt more like a conventional sports turbocharged petrol engine with a conventional automatic gearbox.
It matched the engine revs, speed and pressure on the accelerator really well. There was still the usual higher engine tone during brisk acceleration.
It was noticeably sharper in delivering its extra power but given its higher cost only high mileage motorway cruisers will gain much benefit from this new hybrid powertrain. We tested this new unit in the Touring Sports estate which costs from £28,820. Our real-life test drive fuel economy was 48.4mpg driven over a similar route as the 1.8 Hybrid hatchback/.saloon models.
With the choice of three powertrains, four spec levels and three body styles you might think there is a new Corolla to suit most pockets.
But it faces stiff competition, not only from the latest C-segment hatchbacks and estates, but more likely from the mid-sized SUVs which continue to be the current cars of choice for many new car buyers.
The new Corolla is good but is it good enough to meet that SUV challenge? More UK customers buying hybrids should help its cause.
Toyota Corolla Icon Tech Hatchback 1.8 Hybrid CVT, (expected best selling model), £24,800
Powertrain: 1.8-litre, 4-cylinder DOHC 120bhp petrol engine, 142Nm of torque with 163Nm electric motor, self charging hybrid with CVT transmission
Performance: 112mph, 0-62mph 10.9-seconds, WLTP Combined Cycle up to 65.9mpg (59mpg on test)
CO2 76g/km, First Year VED £95, Standard rate £130, BiK company car tax 19%
Insurance group: tbc Warranty: 5-years/100,000-miles
Dimensions/capacities: L 4,370mm, W 1,790mm, H 1,435, wheelbase 2,640mm, boot space 361-litres, 5-doors/5-seats
For: British built, smart sportier exterior styling than the Auris it replaces, higher interior quality, comfortable and compliant ride, well balance handling, low tax costs, good real-life fuel economy
Against: Hatchback version suffers from less rear seat legroom than the Touring Sports estate and Saloon, poor infotainment and sat-nav functionality, time will tell if the name-change back to Corolla will appeal to some long-term Auris owners.
© David Miles