BY TRISH WHELAN
TOYOTA’S best-selling car, Corolla, went exclusively hybrid from 2020.
Toyota had already ceased selling diesel models for passenger cars two years earlier. The self-charging Corolla was the country’s best-selling car for ‘192’ and most customers favoured it over petrol, effectively removing the need for the petrol model. Toyota said the decision to double down on self-charging hybrid over petrol sales ‘made absolute sense’.
Toyota is the top selling car brand so far this year and Corolla the second best-selling model behind the Hyundai Tucson. Toyota also took third, fourth and fifth spots in the five top car models year to date with their C-HR, RAV4 and Yaris models.
Self-charging hybrids are automatic as standard, and can drive in zero emissions mode for more than 60pc of the time. My latest test drive was in the Corolla hatchback, a very handsome looking 5-door with strong styling, a Pearl red exterior colour, and black roof and pillars. A low bonnet gives the car a sleek profile and when viewed from both front and rear, the car seems wider than it actually is, emphasised by a wide sporty grille and stylish all-LED lamps.
The interior is plenty spacious for a young family, and nicely minimalist with good quality materials. Some satin chrome touches help relieve what some might feel is a dark look. The stylish dash is dominated by the stand-alone 8-inch infotainment touchscreen with lovely colourful graphics while the driver’s 7-inch screen display shows a blue half arc indicating your current speed and the fuel range left to empty. Seats proved both comfy and supportive, ideal for long journeys.
Boot capacity is a decent 361 litres. There was no spare, just a tyre repair kit. Storage includes a decent glove box, another area on the lower central console, a pair of cupholders, and good sized door bins.
Corolla comes in hatchback, saloon and Touring Sports body styles.
Grades are Luna, Luna Sport (my review car), Sol and GR Sport.
Main features in my car were 17-inch alloy wheels, power folding/heated door mirrors, auto wipers, front fog lamps, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, an EV driving time indicator that enables you track how much you are driving in EV mode, climate control, and a rear view camera. My car also had Hill Hold and an electric parking brake but no blind spot cover.
Toyota’s Safety Sense 2 driver assistance technology includes pre-collision that can detect pedestrians at night time and cyclists during daylight hours, and adaptive cruise control, among others.
The powertrain was the 1.8 litre putting out 122hp and with 142 Nm torque which proved a nicely powerful combination. The official fuel consumption figure for the Luna grade is circa 4.5 L/100kms (63mpg), slightly more for the top two grades. The needle hardly moved for my first two days of driving, and the trip computer registered a 5.5 L/100kms (51mpg) return when I left the car back, which included driving on all types of roads.
Toyota’s hybrids are a pleasure to drive. Smooth and responsive. A highly rigid body and low centre of gravity reduces body roll, providing extra control when cornering. And with its compact size, on-street parking is a doddle. Thin A-pillars aided visibility and I could see kerbs when turning corners in housing estates which isn’t the case in many test cars I drive. However, my view over my right shoulder was hampered somewhat with the thickness of the B-pillars. Getting a good fit behind the wheel proved easy with steering wheel rake and reach adjustments as well as my driver seat ones.
A more powerful 2.0 with 184hp and 190 Nm of torque is available for the top GR Sport grade. However, boot capacity drops to 313 litres due to the 12V battery being located in the boot.
Toyota offers a standard 3-year/100,000km warranty on all vehicles and up to 10 years’ extended hybrid battery care on their hybrids.
What I liked: Spacious interior with good quality materials.
Price: From €26,930. Luna Sport trim as tested €29,545.