All-New Toyota Corolla Hybrid Review New Zealand
Although having someone ‘in your corner’ is essentially a boxing phase, its meaning and significance crosses very simply into everyday life. Let’s face it, we could all do with support from someone (or in this case something) at one point or another – after all, ‘no man is an island’ (or is that ‘person’ to be PC?) I can’t keep up.
Anyway, I recently attended the launch of the all-new Toyota Corolla which included quite an intense drive around Heartland New Zealand. Over an eight-hour period, we jumped from model to model and across the powertrains. All were great but it was the Hybrid that fascinated me, so Toyota was kind enough to throw me the keys for a whole week.
I was given the ZR in Silver Pearl and it struck a shiny pose on my driveway. It’s lower, wider and longer than the previous model which in turn gives off a more athletic appeal. The squinty LED bi-beam headlights and open-mouthed lower grille emits a sense of meanness but don’t worry, it’s friendly once you get to know it.
Blending the 12th Generation small hatchback into my family dynamic was hardly a difficult process. Putting three people into a four-door car is an ideal fit. The rear seat room is a little snugger than I would have liked and the boot space is less than before but don’t worry, none of us felt claustrophobic and the groceries fitted in just fine.
With chores out of the way and the sun shining we headed up to Otarawao Bay, just north of Orewa. The route along the tight and twisting turns that make up Ngarewa drive rewards you with a destination that is a glorious piece of NZ coastline and a beach that’s very family friendly but it’s that drive that I want to talk about.
The Corolla’s 1.8L 4-cylinder 16v DOHC engine, Ni-MH powered motor and E-CVT transmission combination produces 90kW of power (with 4.2L/100km efficiency and 97g/km emissions) which may not sound that impressive in the grand scale of things, but when you throw in the Corolla’s lower stance and battery weight, you get a centre of gravity that compels you to hug the bends tighter than a rollercoaster’s handrail, it’s ridiculous. I agree that small hatchbacks should handle well, but this Corolla hybrid is exceptional – Although the family weren’t overly enamoured.
The Corolla comes with a large suite of tech and safety aids to keep you out of harm’s way. Lane tracing assistant (that doesn’t rely on road markings), Road sign recognition, AEB, Toyota Safety Sense etc plus a JBL sound system, head up display, I could go on, but the stand out is the way this seemingly sedate small car handles (I may have mentioned that before).
According to Toyota, nothing’s changed, except everything and to me, everything should be underlined. Yes, it’s still the very familiar face of rental cars and a lot of fleets too. Yes, you’ll be hard pushed to take any trip without seeing one of its generations on the road. And, yes it’s as Kiwi as, well a Kiwi BUT, this new generation is better connected, better looking, safer and one thing that you can be sure of is, that when it comes to corners, the Corolla really does have your back.