With the all-new Toyota Corolla hatch, one of the most successful model names in automotive history makes a striking return. Taking over the Auris name badge in South Africa, the Corolla recalls a memorable history in this country – mostly with sedan models, but also the Corolla Conquest and Avante variants of the 80’s and 90’s – and this new hatchback builds on its predecessors celebrated qualities of contemporary design, driving dynamics and efficiency.
With the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) chassis as its basis, the Corolla is longer, lower and therefore sleeker than its Auris predecessor. The striking nose features all-LED lamp clusters, with integral daytime running lights beneath the curved edge of a flatter, clamshell bonnet and narrow upper grille.
Beneath that, trapezoidal lower grille features a new mesh design and a frame that projects powerfully forwards with a grille surround that generates Toyota’s signature ‘catamaran shape’ at the front corners of the car. It emphasises the car’s width and gives the Corolla that aggressive broad, sporting stance.
Like the front, the rear styling is more rounded than before and a 14-degree increase in the angle of the rear screen and muscular haunches above the rear wheel arches combine to give the car a more compact appearance. All-LED light clusters, located as far to the two corners as possible emphasise the car’s width, while the rear bumper styling echoes the ‘catamaran’ look of the front. A lower rear lip features a black-out design matching the; and all versions of the hatchback feature a roof spoiler and shark fin antenna.
The new Corolla hatch comes in six exterior colours, including three new colours – Scarlet Metallic (Red), Oxide Bronze and Caribbean Blue.
The highest levels of visual and tactile quality were the goals of the dedicated Toyota Motor Europe Sensory Quality team (also responsible for the Toyota C-HR crossover’s acclaimed interior) when styling and designing the Corolla’s drivers and passenger environment.
The result is a spacious, modern and cohesive cabin with new textures, colours and trims that are both ergonomically practical and eye-catchingly styled. The slim instrument panel, for example, is not only key to generating a sense of spaciousness, but it improves forward visibility, while still allowing for the driver to be positioned lower and closer to the car’s centre of gravity for a more engaging driving position.
The driver’s cockpit has that real wrap-around feel and the sporty nature is echoed in a front seat design that has also optimises comfort and reduces fatigue on long journeys. The high-grade Xr models also have slim Alcantara-covered front sports seats with wide shoulder supports that combine with solid, thick side bolsters to really grip your upper body and thighs when cornering.
The revised rear seats feature a new seat cushion material that allows for more even distribution of the occupant’s weight and, as standard, all rear seats can be folded using a remote lever to create a fully flat extension to the loadspace.
ON THE ROAD
That TNGA platform mentioned earlier is the foundation for all Toyota’s future powertrain and vehicle development and the version of this modular platform employed in the Corolla is designated the GA-C. With it, the GA-C brings considerable dynamic handling benefits to the new Corolla range, thanks to it being both being torsionally stiffer (by 60%) and lighter, as well as offering a lower centre of gravity.
Not only does a new multilink rear suspension mean there is less intrusion in the loadspace, allowing for an increase in load volume, but handling stability, steering response and ride comfort are notably improved. The latter is also thanks to a new shock absorber valve design in both front and rear suspension systems also reduces friction by 40% resulting in a smoother and more comfortable ride.
Under that stylish front bonnet is a 1.2-litre four-cylinder turbopetrol engine that delivers 85kW and a constant torque curve of 185 Nm between 1,500 and 4,000 rpm through either a 6-speed manual or a new 10-speed Sport Sequential Shiftmatic Continiously Variable Transmission (CVT). The engine is the same power unit found in the Toyota C-HR and it is good for a brisk 0 to 100 km/h of 9.5 seconds for the manual (10.4 for CVT) and the top speed of 200 km/h (190 for CVT). Fuel consumption has been pegged at 6.1 litres per 100km for both manual and CVT variants.
The Corolla Hatch features a host of active and passive safety features. There are a total of 7 airbags – driver and passenger, along with two side and curtain, as well as one for the driver’s knee – plus Vehicle Stability Control is standard, along with the full suite of electronic aids present (ABS, EBD, Brake Assist and Hill-assist Control). It also comes standard with ISOFIX attachment points for child seats.