Toyota onto another winner with the Corolla Hybrid
The Toyota Corolla is inarguably one of Australia’s most popular cars and, to add to the Corolla’s appeal, Toyota has added a hybrid version to the range, which utilises a petrol and electric engine and is designed to take on diesel powered rivals such as the Hyundai i30 CRDi.
However, unlike its rivals that offer their diesel models in a variety of trim levels and body styles, Toyota has only offered the Corolla Hybrid in one well-equipped specification in a hatchback body.
The Toyota Corolla Hybrid is priced from $26,990 and features goodies such as satellite navigation, bi-LED headlights, push button start, dual-zone climate control, a reversing camera and alloy wheels as standard.
What we like:
- Hybrid drivetrain can deliver decent performance
- Road manners
Not so much:
- Average fuel consumption indifferent to a small diesel
- Short range in EV mode
- Performance in Economy Mode average
- Silly gear selector
The Toyota Corolla Hybrid’s interior is a combination of space, clean and simple design and quality materials. The combination of these factors almost justify why the Corolla is one of the nation’s biggest sellers. The seats are comfortable, the large touchscreen and satellite navigation screen are clear and everything falls easily to hand – we particularly like the climate control switches – and the cabin will easily accommodate four adults, five at a squeeze.
Unique to the Corolla Hybrid is a gear selector that is similar to the Prius models and requires the driver to push the level to the right and up or down depending on their preferred direction of travel. A separate button is to be pushed to engage Park.
While the set up appears high tech, it is fiddly and at times frustrating to use. A simpler and more traditional arrangement would have been more ideal.
The Corolla Hybrid swaps the tachometer found in the petrol models for a power usage gauge, which coupled the animated display in the instrument cluster, that provide the driver with feedback on the efficiency of their driving behaviours.
Buttons are mounted near the centre console that allow the driver to select between EV mode, Economy mode and Performance mode.
Under the Bonnet
The Toyota Corolla Hybrid is powered by a 1.8 litre four-cylinder petrol engine that produces [email protected] and [email protected] and this works in conjunction with a battery pack and electric motor, which send power to the front wheels via a continuously variable transmission
The three driving modes do vary greatly in their delivery: we found EV mode to only be effective for a few kilometres and at speeds below 40km/h or so, however the system was beneficial in peak hour Melbourne traffic. Economy mode encourages the driver to drive as efficiently as possible and uses the front wheels to charge the battery when coasting downhill and deploys the petrol motor to drive the wheels and charge the battery when necessary.
Finally, Performance mode ekes the most out of both the petrol and electric motors to equip the Corolla Hybrid with lukewarm acceleration.
During the test period, we predominately utilised Economy mode, and found that the hybrid system switches between petrol and electric motors quickly and seamlessly. The electric motor was beneficial in congested areas and the combination of both electric and petrol motors made overtaking and highway cruising easy.
Drivetrain noise is minimal, except perhaps when pressing on in Performance mode, where the petrol motor can be a little too audible and a little too harsh.
However, we feel that Toyota needs to further improve the practicality of its electric only mode and similarly, official combined fuel consumption figures for the Corolla Hybrid are 4.1 litres per 100 kilometres, however we failed to better 5.5 litres which isn’t as economical as some small diesels.
Overall, though, we found the Corolla Hybrid to more enjoyable and more practical to drive than some of its Prius relatives.
On the Road
The Corolla Hybrid’s handling is by no means sporty, but it is neat, predictable and very tidy. Reassuringly satisfactory, just like the rest of the Corolla package.
The ride quality is impressively compliant too.
The Toyota Corolla is backed by a three-year 100,000 kilometre warranty.
Options: Silver Pearl metallic paint $450