Corolla ZR

Toyota Corolla ZR Review



Toyota Corolla ZR injects some sporty flavour into the Corolla line-up. Sort of. 

The Toyota Corolla is an important car in the automotive world. No, don’t click away. Think about it – the Corolla is well made, comfortable, spacious, inoffensive to drive and it does everything you want a car to do satisfactorily. And that’s not a bad thing for many people. However, with cars like the Mazda3 and the Hyundai i30 now on the market, less people are settling for “satisfactory” and as such, Toyota has introduced the zesty Toyota Corolla ZR.

The flagship of the Corolla range, the Corolla ZR is equipped with automatic collision mitigation, lane departure warning, reversing camera, a leather interior with heated front seats, dual zone climate control, satellite navigation, voice control, LED headlamps, push button start, a mild body kit, a continuously variable transmission (CVT) with seven steps and flappy paddles on the steering wheel.

The Corolla ZR is priced from $30,020 plus on road costs. Our test car was fitted with a glass roof with electrically operated blind ($1,530) and metallic paint ($450).

Weirdly, factory fitted front and rear parking sensors are not available, not even as an option.

The Corolla ZR’s interior definitely has a sporty feel and the fit, finish and use of materials are all excellent. The seats are large and supportive, visibility is good and you get ample leg, head and shoulder room for all four passengers. However, the overall design lacks imagination and the interior of the rival Honda Civic RS has a more driver-focussed feel, with more surprise and delight features, especially with that modern and easy to read instrument cluster.

Corolla pips the Civic on use of materials and overall quality, though.

All Toyota Corolla models – bar the hybrid – are powered by a 1.8 litre four-cylinder engine that produces 103kW @ 6400rpm and 173Nm @ 4000rpm. We found the engine energetic and very eager to please, however, it was a little peaky and in turn, noisy and it was quite coarse higher up in the rev range.

Drivers have a couple of options when it comes to the CVT. They can leave it up to its devices own and act as a CVT, whirring a way and pinning the engine at optimum points in the rev range, they can use the flappy paddles or the can hit the “Sport” button on the centre console. If one chooses the final option, the CVT acts like an aggressively-geared conventional automatic with seven simulated gears. Throttle response also seemed a touch sharper when Sport mode was selected, too and certainly different to the serenely mannered Corolla Hybrid.

Toyota claims an official combined fuel consumption figure of 6.7 litres per 100 kilometres, however we averaged around 8 litres during our test period.

On the road, the Corolla ZR is competent the steering feel is light and positive and it feels agile enough, but it doesn’t egg you on to take it up to your favourite driving road and devour a string of corners. Rather, like the rest of the Corolla package it goes about its business satisfactorily, bar a few small issues. Firstly, the ride is too firm and we felt that too many road perfections made their way into the cabin and up the passenger’s backsides. Similarly, the steering wheel would kickback at times when the front wheels when the car was traversing bumps and there’s a little bit of torque steer when accelerating hard from standstill.

Overall, the Corolla ZR does pretty much what people expect a Corolla to do – sensible motoring with a touch of sportiness and there isn’t anything wrong with that.

What We Like:

  • Solid quality all around
  • Eager engine
  • Spacious cabin
  • Reasonable value

Not So Much:

  • Ride can be too firm
  • Kick back through steering
  • Engine can be coarse and noisy
  • Parking sensors should be standard


  • Wow Factor6
  • Performance 7
  • On the Road7
  • Comfort 7
  • Value for Money7
  • 6.8


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The founding father of The Motoring Guru, Matt has been a lifelong car enthusiast and a passionate writer. Back in 2013 when The Motoring Guru was first launched, Matt wanted to combine his two passions whilst offering readers sound motoring advice.