CAPE TOWN, South Africa – Toyota’s Corolla sedan, believe it or not, is right up there with the original Mini (even if the latter’s now more of a modern Maxi) for manufacturing longevity. Each drove onto the automotive scene in the 1960s but here we go with the Corolla’s 12th incar(excuse pun!)nation.
It’s now available in South Africa and happens to be the worlds best-selling automotive brand. I wonder how many owners say ‘We’ll take the Corolla’ rather than just ‘We’ll take the car’?’ (No charge to use that in your advertising, Mr T.)
This the latest Corolla sedan, its maker says, has ”a highly expressive design” that pretty much follows the frontal treatment of the current Corolla hatch ”a prominent lower apron, sculpted, arrow-shaped headlights, and flowing three-box design”.
EACH VERSION UNIQUE
Media material uses the word ”aggressiveness” to describe the grille… sorry guys, but we have enough of that already on South African roads.
”Each model,” Japanese brand chief engineer Ueda-san says,”is a variant, visually distinctive but with a common lower stance and more appealing proportions.
“We’ve also used thinner A-pillars and a lower fascia assembly for improved all-round vision. Compact diode tail lights have a two-colour design, sharp outer edging and a dark border.
The rear bumper has aero fins for a little extra stability past the wheel arches; overall the shell is marginally lower than previous editions and the cars are 20mm lower and 25mm shorter.
Eight exterior colours are on offer, six of them new, in shades of grey, red, blue, scarlet, dark blue metallic, two shades of white, and silver.
The new Corolla sedan (there’s also a Quest budget model) adopts the same interior design as its hatch sibling, featuring a simple design, reduced upper-panel height, soft-touch finishes and brushed-metal accent strips.
GLUE, NOT SPOT WELDS
Blue contrast stitching is said to add ”an air of sportiness” that matches the blue on the switches and instrument panel. The bucket seats are sheathed in a synthetic fabric called Rezatec which is fabric but ”feels like leather”.
Aluminium and high-tensile steel have been extensively used; the thickness of the doors and roof panel reduced to cut weight and benefit litres/km and adhesives have replaced spot-welding in many places to, along with other measures are said to have improved body rigidity by about 60% over previous units.
The shell rides on MacPherson struts up front and an ”all-new” multi-link rear suspension whitch includes, Toyota says, new shock-absorber valve technology – all to benefit linear response and cornering.
The front suspension geometry has been revised, with new shock-absorbers and coil-spring characteristics ”optimised for a linear steering response and cornering.
‘SILENCED’ TOOL BOX
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 while the engine bay has sound-absorbing and insulating material to mute engine noise.
Two engines are offered: the 1.8-litre mill remains from previous ranges to deliver 103kW/171Nm to a constantly variable transmission capable of seven choice according to speed and load.
The other is two-litre unit branded as ‘Dynamic Force’ and first used on the RAV4 and capable 125kW/200Nm but ”focused on fuel-efficiency.
Two transmissions exist – a six-speed manual or 10-slot CVT – while Toyota quotes 6.2 litres/100km for the two-litre manual and six litres/100km for the two-litre CVT.
Two grade options are offered: XS and XR, the former the flagship with only the new two-litre Dynamic Force engine but either six-speed manual or 10-speed Shiftmatic CVT. The 1.8 XS serves as the entry model.
The XS rolls on 16” alloy wheel rims shod with 205/55 rubber, the XR ”turbine’ 18” alloy rims and 225/40 tyres.
Variously included are Apple CarPlay / Android Auto through a touchscreen interface. Aircon has an Eco mode, reversing camera, power seat-adjustment, one-touch power windows, keyless entry, tilt/telescoping steering adjustment, steering-wheel switches, and cruise control each feature.
XR models include an auto-dimming rear-view mirror and two levels of multi-information display (see above), XS grade uses a 4.2” display with the XR variants employing a 19cm system with digital speedometer.
Crash mitigation equipment includes nitrogen crash sacks, IsoFix kiddieseat anchors and a broad range of driving/braking aids. XR also has a ”full complement” of active driving and bi-diode headlights.
…AND SO TO THE PRICES
Toyota Corolla 1.8 XS CVT – R372 700
Toyota Corolla 2.0 XR 6MT – R412 300
Toyota Corolla 2.0 XR CVT – R425 200
…each delivered with a six-services or 90 000km* service plan with service intervals pegged at 15 000km or annually, and a three year or 100 000km* warranty.