New Toyota Corolla SX Hybrid is well equipped, stylish and very frugal
What is it?
The all-new and much anticipated Toyota Corolla. The Toyota Corolla is a car that has long endured a reputation for being reliable, comfortable and cost efficient and was often bought by people who merely wanted transport that wouldn’t let them down. The Corolla has always been a decent car, but it’s never been a car you’d buy with your heart.
Toyota knows that the Corolla’s safe but staid reputation can no longer cut it in a crowded market place where it competes against rivals such as the Hyundai i30, Mazda3, Volkswagen Golf, Kia Cerato, Ford Focus and Renault Megane. All of these rivals are desirable based on a variety of different reasons.
As such, Toyota has attempted to sex up the new Corolla, it’s aggressively styled, pleasant to drive, hybrid is offered in all trim levels and there’s more tech than ever before.
So can the Corolla now be bought with the head and the heart? Let’s find out.
What’s it cost?
The Corolla range opens with the Ascent Sport manual petrol, which is priced from $22,870 and tops out with the flagship Corolla ZR Hybrid with a sticker price of $31,870 plus government charges. We drove the mid-spec Corolla SX Hybrid, which has a recommended retail price of $28,370 excluding on roads.
Equipment levels are reasonable, and the following kit is included as standard: adaptive cruise, autonomous braking with pedestrian detection, lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring, a reversing camera, remote keyless entry with push button start, dual zone climate control, a reversing camera and much more.
Weirdly, front and rear parking sensors aren’t available as an option, and, in typical Toyota fashion, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are nowhere to be found.
The absence of smartphone mirror technologies could work against Toyota in all model segments, but in a car like the Corolla, the issue seems more prominent, given that customers range from new drivers through to more senior motorists.
Generally, though, the Corolla SX is decent value for money.
What’s it go like?
Small hatchbacks with hybrid drivetrains are all about being as fuel efficient as possible, and the Corolla SX Hybrid is certainly a fuel miser. Propulsion comes from a 1.8 litre four-cylinder engine that produces 72kW @ 5200rpm and 142Nm @ 3600rpm and an electric motor, power is sent to the front wheels via 10 step Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT).
Performance is more than adequate, but what impressed us most is the balance between the petrol and electric motors. The petrol engine was generally employed under hard acceleration, climbing steep hills or swift overtaking. When freeway cruising, coasting downhill or pottering around below 45km/h or so – IE in heavy traffic – the electric motor was responsible for keeping things moving.
The switch between motors was completely smooth and seamless and the drivetrain’s choice of motor always seemed to be spot on. Toyota claims an official combined fuel consumption figure of 4.2 litres per 100 kilometres. Generally speaking, these official figures are hard to match in the real world as they’re often produced under strict conditions.
But, to our amazement, we almost matched Toyota’s figure with an average consumption figure of 4.5 lires per 100 kilometres during our test week.
Ride and handling are perfectly acceptable for a small hatch, the steering was light, handling was nimble, and we found that the Corolla was well suited to inner city commuting and open road cruising.
Ride quality was on the firm side, but it never became brittle or uncomfortable.
What’s it like inside?
The Corolla’s interior boasts Toyota’s latest interior architecture and the dashboard is similar to the one found in the funky C-HR SUV. Fit, finish and all materials used throughout the cabin are top notch, and the interior ambience makes the Corolla feel like a solid, well executed product.
The front seats are soft and comfortable and interior storage for a car of this size is acceptable. A few gripes we had with the overall design up front is that we felt that the volume control knob was too close to the driver’s side climate control – there were a couple of occasions where one was mistaken for the other.
The Corolla SX is fitted with a wireless mobile phone charger as standard. Which is great, but it doesn’t seem to hold devices well. Our iPhone X, for instance, slid around too much and the car didn’t do all that much charging.
That said, there’s also a USB port, so you can charge your phone with a cable if necessary.
Jump into the back and the rear bench is also soft and very comfy. Rear legroom is a little tight and the rear bench is best suited to two adults. Headroom is sufficient for those up to six feet tall.
Boot space is on the small side, and the boot itself is shallow, impeding the ‘Rolla’s practicality/
Overall though, a quality and comfortable place to be.
What we like:
- Hybrid efficiency
What we don’t:
- No Apple CarPlay or Android Auto
- Parking sensors should be fitted as standard
- Small boot
- Some ergonomic gripes
We like the new Corolla SX Hybrid. We like its efficiency, we like the way it looks, the way its drives and the value. Worth a look.