We get behind the wheel of replacement for Toyota Auris, which starts at £23,750 in hybrid form
Toyota is resurrecting the Corolla name in the UK for its all-new 2019 challenger in the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus class. The car will be available here in 1.2-litre manual petrol and 1.8 and 2.0-litre automatic petrol-electric hybrid forms. There’ll be a choice of the hatchback and ‘Touring Sports’ estate bodystyles familiar from the outgoing Auris, along with the return of a Corolla saloon to the UK for the first time in almost 15 years.
New Toyota Corolla price
The new Corolla arrives in UK showrooms in March 2019, with the petrol hatchback (available only in Icon, Icon Tech and Design trims) priced from £21,300 to £23,735. The hybrid hatchback (available in Icon, Icon Tech, Design and top-spec Excel trim) is priced from £23,750 to £29,070.
For the Touring Sports estate, petrol prices run from £22,570 to £24,645, while the hybrid is priced from £25,020 to £30,340. Again, top-spec Excel trim is hybrid only, with Icon, Icon Tech and Design offering either petrol or hybrid.
Pricing and specs for the saloon version have yet to be confirmed, but are expected to be announced in early 2019.
We’ve driven a late prototype version of a European-spec car. Under the metal, it shares much with the existing Toyota Prius and Toyota C-HR. It’s 25mm lower, 30mm wider and 40mm longer than the Auris it replaces, giving it a sleeker and much more appealing look. The extra length promises increased space inside, too.
Two hybrid engine options are being offered for the Corolla: a 1.8 and a 2.0-litre petrol. In both hatchback and estate form, the latter engine is reserved for the two most expensive trim levels, Design and Excel, while the smaller engine is offered across the range, from entry-level Icon trim up.
The 1.8-litre makes 121bhp, getting the car from 0-62mph in 10.9 seconds and on to a top speed of 112mph. Efficiency figures are impressive: a claimed 83.1mpg and 76g/km CO2 output. The 2.0-litre has ‘stepped’ ratios built into its automatic gearbox to mimic a manual and makes a hefty 177bhp to cut the 0-62mph time to 7.9 seconds. Efficiency takes a hit, though: claimed fuel economy here is 74.3mpg and CO2 emissions go up to 86g/km.
On the road, the new Corolla is markedly better to drive than the outgoing Auris, with a stiffer body and greater agility. It’s still not quite as satisfying a driver’s car as a Ford Focus, however. The tradeoff is ride quality that may be a touch too harsh for those who just want a smooth and comfortable cruiser, and the smaller 17-inch alloy wheels may be smart choice for UK buyers given the typical quality of our roads.
Interior and specifications
For passengers, the Corolla is pretty spacious inside, with the exception of kneeroom in the rear, which could be tight for taller occupants. Both the driving position and the driver’s visibility are excellent, however, and there has been a noticeable step up in interior quality compared to the Auris.
There are four trim levels: Icon, Icon Tech, Design and Excel. Across both hatchback and estate bodystyles, Icon and Icon Tech come with a choice of 1.2 petrol or 1.8 hybrid power. Design offers the option of 1.2 petrol, 1.8 hybrid or 2.0 hybrid, while top-spec Excel is available with either of the two hybrid engines.
The Toyota SafetySense suite is standard across the range, giving every Corolla pre-collision warning, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assistance, road-sign detection and automatic high beams.
Icon gets 16-inch alloys, LED headlights, heated front seats, Toyota Touch2 infotainment, a reversing camera, DAB radio and dual-zone air-conditioning as standard (the latter only with the 1.8 hybrid engine).
Icon Tech adds sat nav and voice control, a seven-inch TFT display, parking sensors and parking assistance, while Design builds on this further with 17-inch alloys, rain-sensing wipers, power-adjustable heated door mirrors, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, rear privacy glass, LED foglights and an optional opening panoramic roof.
Top-spec Excel boosts alloy wheel size to 18 inches (but only on the hatchback), as well as adding Bi-LED headlights, smart entry, sports seats, part-leather upholstery and optional bi-tone paint finish and optional JBL stereo upgrade.
The hatchback’s boot will hold 361 litres, which is 20 litres less than a Volkswagen Golf will manage. However, that only applies to the 1.8-litre model; the 2.0-litre has less capacity still, at just 313 litres. Those who need more carrying capacity are catered for by the Corolla Touring Sports estate version. As well as a bigger boot, it has a 60mm longer wheelbase, which increases rear passenger room.
New Toyota Corolla Touring Sports estate
Estate buyers get the same choice of 1.2 petrol and 1.8 or 2.0-litre petrol hybrid power on offer in the hatchback, and from behind the wheel it feels almost identical to the hatchback. We suspect estate drivers who regularly tow or carry heavy loads will still prefer a powerful manual-gearbox diesel to what’s on offer here, but the Corolla is far from sluggish in any case.
Toyota has yet to reveal a maximum seats-down boot capacity for the Touring Sports, but with the rear seats in place, it’ll hold 598 litres with the 1.8-litre engine and 581 litres with the 2.0-litre. A Volkswagen Golf Estate can hold about 25 litres more.
On the plus side, an adjustable boot floor and reversible carpeted or rubber lining boosts the Corolla’s versatility and the rear seats can be dropped using remote handles. Elsewhere, the interior is a carbon copy of the hatchbacks, with the same quality materials and less-than-cutting-edge infotainment system.
Like the hatchback, the Corolla Touring Sports Estate will arrive in the UK in February 2019. Exact prices, specifications and trim levels have yet to be firmed up, but keep an eye on DrivingElectric for the latest news
New Toyota Corolla saloon
A four-door saloon version of the new Corolla will also be offered – the first time Toyota has offered a saloon model in this class for almost 15 years. Like the hatchback and estate above, the saloon will be introduced in the first quarter of 2019.
Toyota says the hatchback is aimed at young couples, the Touring Sports estate at families and the saloon at “young professionals who want more prestigious styling, on-board space and comfort”.
While it sits on the same platform as the hatchback and estate Corollas, the saloon features different front and rear styling to set it apart. Like the Touring Sports estate, it has a longer wheelbase than the hatchback, giving extra legroom to rear-seat passengers.
The saloon will be offered with the 1.8-litre petrol-electric hybrid drivetrain, but not the more more powerful 2.0-litre version available for the hatchback and estate. Claimed fuel economy for this bodystyle is 83mpg and CO2 emissions are from 77g/km.
A 1.6-litre petrol engine is also available in some markets, but UK buyers will only be able to choose the hybrid.