The Toyota Corolla has been a stalwart of NZ roads for many a year, almost too many to count – ok it’s around thirty. Anyway, the Corolla’s styling, specifications (including modern tech) and affordability have ensured its popularity over its lifetime and the latest version, the twelfth since its original launch in 1966 by the way, has kept to the same winning formula.
Having attended the NZ launch of the current hatchback model of the Corolla, it’s easy for me to see why this version has been hailed as the best, well certainly one of them. Everything from its TNGA ‘next generation’ platform of chassis, to its stand out design and safety sense features, makes it great to drive, easy to admire and quite an improvement on the previous models, all except for the luggage space. Well, it would appear that now Toyota has got that covered now too – but it does involve a bit of shape-shifting.
Having embraced modern Hybrid drivetrains and working to certain size and production limitations, meant that the new Corolla hatch reduced its rear luggage capacity rather significantly over the 11th Generation. Its shallow 208L offering is not the most impressive in the category and was a bit of a head-scratcher. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fine for the majority of your day to day needs or requirements but should you be heading away on longer excursions or on airport shuttle duty, well ‘pack light’ would be my suggestion.
To combat the aforementioned issue, Toyota released a Corolla wagon that boasts just under four times the luggage space dimensions of the hatch when you drop the seats down, however, not everyone likes a wagon. Now Toyota has added a smart-looking Sedan into the mix and personally, I think it’s the best of the trio.
First of all that pesky luggage space problem. The new Corolla Sedan comes with a far more substantial 470L of ‘seats up’ area to play with. It leaves the 11th generation in its wake and is virtually two and half times larger than its hatch-backed sibling.
Then there’s the car’s silhouette itself. I have to come clean here and admit that I am more inclined to go with a Sedan design than a hatch, despite the fact that they are less in tune with the current road-faring public (mind you, we’d only ever be talking about SUVs if that was the case). To me, the Sedan offers more symmetry, more flair and maybe a hint of more maturity. With that in mind, Toyota gave me the Hybrid SX to try out.
Dressed in Celestite Grey (a hue that offers a hint of blue in the sunlight), the Corolla Sedan looks surprisingly larger than the hatch, it’s only 260mm but it certainly makes a noticeable difference and the gross weight of the car is lighter by 45kgs but some of this may be down to a 7L reduction in the fuel tank (43L).
On the subject of fuel and specifically consumption, despite both the Sedan and Hatch having the same 1.8L/Electric motor combination that produces 90kW/142Nm, the Sedan is actually more frugal with both fuel and emissions, 3.5 L/100km and 81 g/km respectively.
The Corolla Sedan seats 5 (although I would suggest the 5th person be more svelt than the others) and both technology and comfort far exceeds the vehicle’s price tag. 8” Infotainment touchscreen displays all the usual navigation and driving aids, it’s ultra-quick and easy to pair with your Smartphone and comes with a six-speaker audio system, while the Instrument cluster is 7”, colour and very clear.
Overall I didn’t manage to fit any remarkable trips into the press drive and in many ways, that’s what really made the Corolla Sedan stand out. The Chasis is strong yet comfortable, the SX fabric interior is ‘everyday useable’ and the hybrid/eCVT combination works well together (the transmission is still a little droney but less than a regular).
Depending on your preference or more particularly, your individual needs, the Toyota Corolla now has a powertrain and Shape to suit. Personally, I believe that the Sedan covers all the bases, but hey, that’s just me.