Cars, tech, games… You name it, I’ll probably love it.
Toyota Corolla has always been a name associated with comfort and reliability. To see this name back on British roads is a beautiful homage.
You see, back in 2007, the Corolla name was taken off market and replaced with the Auris. There wasn’t anything wrong with that, it just wasn’t… Corolla. But, it’s back, and more defined than any of the previous generations.
If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know Toyota has been near and dear to me for a long time. I have been following this car since it was first announced as the new Auris, and I’ve been so excited to get my hands behind the wheel.
With the help of FRF Toyota Bridgend, I’m able to bring you this review of the all-new 2019 Toyota Corolla. By all means, before continuing, I’d strongly suggest checking out their wares online and seeing what they have to offer.
I was handed the keys to the kitted-out 2.0 litre Hybrid Corolla Hatchback Excel. Coming in just shy of £30,000. In this review, I’ll be looking at many of the fun aspects and some of the stranger differences to most modern cars.
There’s a variety of new specs for the Corolla. The Excel, which I drove featured some impressive bits and bobs which I’ve listed below:
4 cylinder in line 2.0-litre Petrol Hybrid @ 180hp. 0-60mph ~7.6 seconds
18-inch bi-tone grey/machine face alloy wheels (5 double spoke)
Urban up to 48mpg, extra urban up to 72mpg, combined 56mpg.
Miles Per Tank
A full breakdown of the Toyota Corolla’s specifications can be found on Parkers.
First Impressions Count
The first thing anyone will notice about the new Corolla is its radical new design. I mean, really, there is a much more aggressive styling on the front headlights.
Piercing, almost, to look at. But don’t be scared, Toyota have made the all-new Corolla very much inviting. This particular variant sits a little lower than the other models – boasting more of a sportier stance. And bear that in mind… “sportier“.
The exterior styling throughout the range has this “sporty” feel to it. The Corolla has certainly flexed out a lot more since its family hatchback days. It sort of feels more like an aim towards ‘fun’ than family activity. Of course, for the more practical among us there is also the Corolla Touring Sport – which, in essence is just a lavish way of saying estate.
Not to say it’s not a family car; I’d still consider it large enough for a small family. But there have been some sacrifices along the way.
But either one you choose – you’re still getting some great standard equipment across the line. In the Excel, you’ll have alloy wheels, automatic LED headlights, heated seats, a generous infotainment system and as an added bonus – reversing cameras.
Talking about reversing cameras and large infotainment screens, that brings me onto the next topic.
The Space Age Interior
I’ve often always thought that the most important part of any car should always be its interior. This is no slouch. I was amazed by the amount of new toys & features.
More often than not, new tech means new problems. As much as there are many new features that I love in the Corolla, there are a lot that I seem to question.
Take, for example, the placement of the mode selector. It’s pushed up behind the gear selector and just underneath the air conditioning controls. You find yourself having to do an awkward arm dance to get to the controls.
And if that wasn’t enough, there’s an awkward array of buttons on the steering wheel. I confess, I am a fan of buttons, what petrol head doesn’t love a set of buttons? This, however, seems a little over the top for what’s needed.
Fear not, though, for all of its head-scratching quirks the Corolla makes up with a multitude of gadgets. Really… a lot.
The inner geek in me screams for this, things that I don’t particularly understand. They’re there. And I love it. The Corolla I tested was heavy with the latest equipment; lane assistance, speeding alerts, a digital gauge cluster that probably has a more functionality than my own smartphone. And this is what I love about Toyota, they’re big nerds. I say that in the politest way possible. They are so ahead of the game.
Which takes me onto the infotainment system. I have never used a more simplistic, yet versatile infotainment system. It makes perfect sense. The system is a mixture of touch-screen and quality feeling buttons – which, is a lot better than just touch. Let me explain; fiddling around while your driving with a system that only allows for touch can be infuriating. For example, you need to turn the volume up but you end up spending a majority of your time smearing your fingers across the screen looking for the dial. Fortunately, it’s no worry here.
That alone, is a great starting point. Talking of which, the moment the vehicle is turned on it takes you straight to options that matter most – music & maps. Couldn’t be any more simple than that.
It’s also where you’ll find my favourite feature of any hybrid Toyota – the energy monitor. It’s a cool little system telling you where energy is being directed. The likelihood of you using it? Rarely. But it’s still one of those fun little tools.
Comparing to its predecessor – the Auris, the Corolla has made some significant improvements.
Starting with the center console, there’s a lot more of a sweeping look. The Auris had a largely flat console that was rather off-putting. No offense to their designers, but the previous was rather dull.
A bit further down – the gear selector. Toyota have finally moved over to a more traditional looking gear selector. The previous Auris’ gear selector sort of resembled a glass doorknob that had seen better days. Also, to mention its old and confusing layout that still gives me a headache even now.
There’s a nice set of premium feeling fabrics, too, no more cheap feeling plastics in this vehicle! Adding to the premium feel, the infotainment system as mentioned earlier. It sticks out of the center console, almost comparable to the new Ford Fiesta & Focus.
I confess. This is the first hybrid I’ve ever driven. I know the stereotypes surrounding hybrids, and it’s such a shame they have to have that reputation. Hybrids are fun. And the future is electrified.
Toyota is, whether you like it or not, the grandfather of the hybrid car. Most other brands have only recently stepped in on hybrid technology, so its safe to say no one knows them better than Toyota. But, in a lot of ways, I wish the hybrid started out more like it is today. I don’t think there’d be such a stigma surrounding them if people understood just how good a hybrid is to drive.
It is, without a doubt, seamless. I could not believe there was still a 2-litre petrol engine in this car. The transition from electric to combustion is hardly noticeable. And what’s more – you get that instant torque feeling between 0 and 25mph. Flooring it feels easy.
On The Road
Out on the road, the Toyota Corolla is really engaging. And flicking the toggle into sport mode gives that satisfying red aura around the gauge. You really feel the hybrid come to life at this point.
Toyota have really tweaked the balance and handling in this model. There’s a lower center of gravity and the input from the steering wheel seems to be a lot looser. That being said, it feels a little too loose in my opinion – if it were just a little heavier it’d feel just right.
Even with its lowered stance, the Corolla does not lose its comfort. On my drive, I took it over a few of the bumpy Welsh roads and I didn’t even flinch.
Falling Short in Practicality
Small hatchbacks seem to be getting larger, yet also smaller. For anyone who has read my last review on the Mini Cooper, you’ll know what I mean.
So, does that still apply here? Yes. Unfortunately.
The back of the Toyota Corolla Hatchback is a really dull and boring place to be. And the legroom is near non-existent. It’s a shame, because the front is really interesting – a lot is going on. The back, well, I’d imagine passengers complaining due to boredom.
The boot capacity is respectable for a vehicle of its class. There’s nothing else particularly interesting apart from the hidden floor. At least, you’d think it’s a hidden floor. Instead we have a rather shallow space underneath to house the spare wheel and jack.
I’d like to think the boot could have been a little bit deeper. Then again, this being a hybrid – those huge batteries have to be stored somewhere.
The new Toyota Corolla is brilliant. Although, it won’t be for everyone, as expected. At this point, with the release of the new Ford Focus and Fiesta – it’s a tough market. Both of those cars have seen a huge spike in sales and I doubt it’s going to change any time soon. But this is the Corolla, the world’s best selling car.
I do believe there is a lot more to the Corolla than meets the eye. It is just something you’ll have to try for yourself.
There’s so many optional extras that can be added to your Corolla, meaning you can really personalise the car before purchasing.
But as I mentioned earlier, it is lacking in terms of space. If you’re a little more adventurous or have a family, I’d definitely recommend checking out the Sports Tourer or the Saloon.
It’s easy enough to make these face value opinions on the Corolla, but if you’re serious about finding a new car. Then maybe give hybrid a try. The Toyota Corolla could be perfect and the folks at FRF Toyota could definitely give you a hand.
We’ll be looking to follow up our written review with a video review where we can go in depth with a few more details. You can keep up to date by subscribing to us on YouTube.
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