The world’s best-selling automotive nameplate, is quite some accolade and no mean feat either. Toyota’s ubiquitous compact city car – first launched in 1966 – has captured the global automotive market and gone on to become a household name the world over.
Now in its 12th-generation, the new Corolla combines Toyota’s exciting new design direction, with the tried-and-tested virtues of the Corolla brand. The adoption of the TNGA (GA-C) platform provides an innovative base on which to build the latest iteration of the company’s compact sedan.
The new Corolla sedan features a highly expressive design, adopting the same front-end treatment as the Corolla Hatch (with minor variation) and featuring a prominent lower apron, sculpted headlights and flowing three-box design.
The front bumper employs a large trapezoidal lower grille, with black-moulded border and large mesh pattern. The arrow-shaped LED headlamps, with integrated DRL elements, flow towards the centrally-mounted Toyota emblem, surrounded by a slim-line upper grille element – enhancing visual aggressiveness.
According to Ueda-san, Corolla Chief Engineer: “One of the big merits of the new platform is that it allows designers more freedom to create a dynamic exterior.”
He adds that all variants in the Corolla family are now visually distinctive and feature an individual look with a lower stance and more appealing proportions. “We’ve also ensured better all-around visibility for the driver by implementing thinner A-pillars and a lowered dashboard and bonnet,” said Ueda-san.
The short roofline and sloping C-pillar convey a sense of motion, while the short rear overhang adds to the dynamic presence. The compact LED taillights feature a bi-colour design, sharp outer edging and dark border – which extends to the centre of the boot lid, linking the left and right sides.
A black trapezoidal rear-bumper insert and outwardly-mounted vertical reflectors add to its powerful stance. The rear bumper also features integrated aero-stabilising fins, to smooth airflow from the wheel arches.
Dimensionally the new Corolla is 20mm lower, with the bonnet edge sitting 35mm lower and the front overhang registering 25mm shorter. In order to promote a powerful stance, front and rear tread have been increased by 11 and 22mm respectively.
Eight exterior colours are on offer, six of them being new. Celestite Grey, Crimson Red, Moonlight Ocean, Scarlet and Dark Blue metallic offer buyers an expressive choice. Pearl White, Glacier White and Satin Silver remain the neutral tones on offer.
The new Corolla sedan adopts the same interior design as its hatch sibling, featuring an elegantly simple design, reduced upper-panel height, soft-touch finishes and brushed metal accent strips. In sedan execution, blue contrast stitching adds an air of sportiness and harmonises with blue illumination for the switchgear and instrument panel.
A revised front seat design with elegant ribbed pattern and bucket-like profile lends a premium feel to the cabin. A new-age synthesized fabric called RezatecTM is used, offering the comfort of fabric with the premium feel of leather. The high-grade (XR) model offers a choice of sporty blue or classic grey accent trim colours.
Structural Integrity and Weight Optimisation
Aluminium, high-tensile strength steel and hot-stamped materials have been extensively used, and the panel thickness of the doors and roof panel reduced. This has resulted in a considerable weight reduction for the body, helping to improve overall fuel efficiency.
At the same time, the addition of adhesives throughout the new bodyshell, an increase in the use of spot welding, and the use of fully closed cross-sections and structural rings, combine to increase body rigidity by some 60% over the outgoing models, promoting a marked increase in handling agility, responsiveness to steering inputs and high-speed stability.
Handling and agility are further improved by the lower mounting height of the engine and lower hip point of the seats. In combination, these measures have lowered the new Corolla’s centre of gravity by some 10 mm.
The new Corolla range features a proven MacPherson strut front suspension system, an all-new multi-link rear suspension arrangement and new shock absorber valve technology. The front suspension geometry has been revised, with newly developed shock absorbers, and coil spring characteristics optimised for a linear steering response during mid- to high-speed cornering.
Additional geometry changes have been applied to the suspension arm and bush structures, in order to achieve quicker shock absorber response and minimise the transmission of shock forces from rough surfaces and achieve high-quality ride comfort. The newly developed multi-link rear suspension features compact packaging and exclusively-designed coil springs, which offer both handling stability and ride comfort.
Improved Noise, Vibration & Harshness (NVH)
The GA-C platform itself contributes to the suppression of transmission vibration. The steering wheel pad functions as a dynamic damper to suppress steering vibration, and even the tool box functions as a dynamic damper to reduce rear floor panel vibration.
The generous application of sound absorbing and insulating material in the engine bay combines with a triple-layered dashboard inner silencer to minimise the penetration of engine and transmission noise into the cabin. An integral floor silencer has also been adopted, increased body sealer has been applied to gaps between panels, and foam material has been installed within the body frame in numerous locations to reduce the penetration of wind and road noise into the cabin.
Two engines options are employed in the new Corolla. The 1.8-litre mill is carried over from the previous generation, delivering 103kW and 171Nm. This unit is mated to a ‘7-speed’ Shiftmatic CVT transmission with 7 pre-programmed steps.
Next up is the new 2.0-litre ‘Dynamic Force’ TNGA engine (as first seen on RAV4) which ups the ante to 125kW and 200Nm – with a strong focus on fuel efficiency. Two transaxle options exist here, a 6-speed manual or ‘10-speed’ Shiftmatic CVT.
Fuel consumption for the 1.8-litre is listed as 6.2 l/100 km, the 2.0-litre manual at 6.5 and finally the 2.0-litre CVT at 6.0 l/100 km.
Two Grades, Three Models
Two grade options are offered, XS and XR. The XR model serves as the flagship and is available exclusively with the new 2.0-litre Dynamic Force engine with a choice of 6-speed manual or 10-speed Shiftmatic CVT. The 1.8 XS serves as the entry point to the range.
The XS rolls on 16” alloy wheels shod with 205-55-R16 tyres. XR models receive ultra-stylish turbine-shaped 18” alloy wheels outfitted with 225-40-R18 tyres.
Convenience and Tech
The new Corolla sedan delivers on both the tech and convenience fronts, with the inclusion of Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and touchscreen interface. Climate control with Eco mode, a reverse camera, power seat adjustment, one-touch functionality for the electric windows, keyless entry, tilt & telescopic steering adjustment, steering switches and cruise control all feature on the spec’ list. XR models feature an auto-dimming rear view mirror too.
Two levels of Multi-information Display (MID) systems are utilised. The XS grade uses a 4.2” display with the XR variants employing a large 7” MID system with digital speedometer.
Safety and Sensibility
On the safety front the Corolla certainly delivers. All models feature seven airbags, ISOFIX, active electronic safety aids (ABS, EBD, BAS, VSC, HAC) and an impact absorbing bodyshell. The flagship XR grade receives Toyota Safety Sense (TSS) – a full complement of active driver aids. The XR also receives an upgrade to Bi-LED headlamps.
This suite combines Pre-collision system, blind spot monitor, all-speed cruise control, automatic high-beam and Lane Trace Assist – conveniently operated via steering switches or the multi-information display.
Model Line-up and Pricing
Corolla 1.8 XS CVT – R 380 200
Corolla 2.0 XR 6MT – R 420 500
Corolla 2.0 XR CVT – R 433 700
Warranty & Service
All Corolla models include a 6-services/90 000 km service plan with service intervals pegged at 15 000 km/12-months. A 3 year/100 000 km warranty is also included.