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Our first test of the new Corolla on UK soil keeps the good news coming for Toyota's new British built hatchback

Our Verdict

Toyota Corolla hybrid hatchback 2019 road test review - hero front

Toyota's new British built hatchback sees the world’s best-selling nameplate return as a rebranded hybrid hatchback

What is it?

Things aren’t all bad in the UK car industry, this all-new Toyota Corolla a case in point. It’s a British-built family hatchback, which, on first impressions earlier this month on Spanish soil, revealed itself to have true class-leading potential. 

A car we should grow to be quite proud of then, and some comeback, too. Remember, this new Corolla replaces the Auris, which was about as uninspiring a car in the class as you could imagine. That car one hand on the wooden spoon in a segment that’s 15-20 models strong, rather than jostling for gold.

We went into great detail on the background to the new Corolla and its dynamic make-up on our recent first drive, which you can read here. Our test car here is also in the range-topping Excel trim, our Corollas sharing a cabin design, trim and spec sheets. 

So what’s new for this second appraisal for the Corolla back on home soil after its Spanish holiday is our first chance to test the lower-powered of two the hybrid powertrains on offer, plus the chance for that overhauled new chassis to show its mettle on roads that will really show how good it is. We’ll focus on that here. 

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What's it like?

The drivetrain in this Corolla is identical to that of the Prius, mixing a 1.8-litre Atkinson cycle petrol engine with Toyota’s e-CVT hybrid transmission and running gear. The system puts out 120bhp, and offers up to 65mpg on the new WLTP combined cycle and 83g/km CO2 emissions.

So the driving experience is a familiar one from the Prius; not one of excitement, more one that just works with a nice easy-going manner. We were regularly seeing above 50mpg on our mixed roads test route, the car quiet and relaxed in its road manners and regularly switching silently and unobtrusively between hybrid and all-electric power for even quieter short bursts.

There’s a decent amount of torque at step off to make this Corolla quite sprightly over a 0-30mph sprint, before the familiar CVT drone kicks in when you keep asking the engine for more over a mid-high rev range. It runs out of puff a bit here, and the performance gets far more limited and with no driver involvement.

If you’re looking for more involving performance, look elsewhere, most likely towards the as-yet-untested turbo, non-hybrid 1.2 petrol that also gets a manual gearbox.

This drivetrain should also get the more out of what is a much-improved chassis, which impresses here as much as it did in Spain. The old Auris wobbled its way down the road like an old roller skate, seemingly engineered by folk for whom driving enjoyment was a completely alien concept. 

Not so this Corolla. There’s real feel to the steering, a smooth ride quality at speeds, impressive body control and a decent amount of grip. This chassis tuning, mixed with things like a comfortable, nicely laid out driving position and good control weights, make this the kind of car you can seamlessly slip into and enjoy driving a mile down the road to Morrisons as you would the length of the M1. A Volkswagen Golf does similar. 

The only real blots on its dynamic copybook is how sharp and grabby the brakes are, and the occasional bump and rumble into the cabin with the low-speed ride. Both traits are likely affected by the hybrid drivetrain (integration with the brakes, the weight of the hybrid system on the ride), and neither is a deal breaker. 

Should I buy one?

The Corolla is built here and it also feels like its been developed for our roads. This hybrid version doesn’t show the car at its very best, but it’s still a darn good machine. 

So while this particualr powertrain doesn’t engage (apart from with your wallet), the chassis certainly does. Bravo, Toyota, and welcome back to the sharp end of the class. 

Toyota Corolla Excel 1.8 Hatchback specification 

Where Cambridgeshire, UK Price £27,345 On sale Now Engine 4 cyls, 1798cc, petrol, plus hybrid system Power 120bhp at 5200rpm (hybrid combined) Torque 105lb ft at 3600rpm (engine only) Gearbox e-CVT Kerb weight 1295kg Top speed 124mph 0-62mph 9.3sec Fuel economy 55.4-65mpg (WLTP combined) CO2 83g/km Rivals Ford Focus, Honda Civic

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Comments
25

1 March 2019

Toyota Corolla 1.8 hybrid hatchback 2019 He is a gorgeous car. Very beautiful and luxurious interior. The design is very eye-catching.

Temple run

1 March 2019

The average driver in this market doesn't give a fig how the car handles. The fact that it looks good inside and out (Toyota interiors have been wilfully poor for a long time) and is economical should help it sell.

The success of this car will be in the marketing campaign.

1 March 2019

On the subject of the marketing campaign, did anyone see the early version of the TV advert? It shows the Corolla overtaking all kinds of cars, but in the first version I saw, it ovetakes a moving Ferrari - that's actually on the back of a tow truck! :-D

I wondered how they were going to get away with that - then the next time I saw the ad, that bit had gone.

Nice car - bit concerned about the hatch's boot capacity though, and, as with all new versions of cars now, the high list price........I wonder why cars aren't selling as well as they did......!

 

Everyone has a right to an opinion - don't confuse that with insulting your mother :-)

1 March 2019

You don't mind what a car looks like, go's like and can put up with a CVT then maybe. But there's more to life than a 30% fuel saving over a year, which, is pretty much negated when factoring in that high initial price.   To put that price into perspective a Renault Meganne RS280 is only £500 more, a Astra SRI Nav with a 150hp 1.5 and automatic box is under £25k.  MPG isn't everything!

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

1 March 2019
xxxx wrote:

You don't mind what a car looks like, go's like and can put up with a CVT then maybe. But there's more to life than a 30% fuel saving over a year, which, is pretty much negated when factoring in that high initial price.   To put that price into perspective a Renault Meganne RS280 is only £500 more, a Astra SRI Nav with a 150hp 1.5 and automatic box is under £25k.  MPG isn't everything!

But, if you're a company car driver the Corolla knocks either of those two into a cocked hat from a cost perspective.

CO2 of 83g compared to 163g for the Megane or 136g for the Astra. 

On this year's bands that's 22% for the Corolla, 31% for the Astra and 36% for the Megane. 

1 March 2019
odie_the_dog wrote:

xxxx wrote:

You don't mind what a car looks like, go's like and can put up with a CVT then maybe. But there's more to life than a 30% fuel saving over a year, which, is pretty much negated when factoring in that high initial price.   To put that price into perspective a Renault Meganne RS280 is only £500 more, a Astra SRI Nav with a 150hp 1.5 and automatic box is under £25k.  MPG isn't everything!

But, if you're a company car driver the Corolla knocks either of those two into a cocked hat from a cost perspective.

CO2 of 83g compared to 163g for the Megane or 136g for the Astra. 

On this year's bands that's 22% for the Corolla, 31% for the Astra and 36% for the Megane. 

Should have mentioned 'from private buyers view point'.

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

1 March 2019

This is a positive review of a car that's genuuinely really good I'm sure. But if you watch video reviews there's a problem for some buyers and it's space. Rear-seat space is borderline unacceptable for tall people and the boot no bigger than a Yaris's in the hybrid model because of batteries under the floor and a hatch that slopes too steeply. If only they could have ticked every box. Something to consider. 

1 March 2019
androo wrote:

This is a positive review of a car that's genuuinely really good I'm sure. But if you watch video reviews there's a problem for some buyers and it's space. Rear-seat space is borderline unacceptable for tall people and the boot no bigger than a Yaris's in the hybrid model because of batteries under the floor and a hatch that slopes too steeply. If only they could have ticked every box. Something to consider. 

The 1.2 turbo petrol has a bigger boot. The estate massively bigger. Problem solved! As for the rest leg room argument, most drivers don't drive with the front seats pushed all the way back as they are not 6ft 5in tall. My other half if 5ft 3in tall, when she is driving I can lounge my 6ft frame in the back of our Qashqai like it was a limo.

1 March 2019
Nobody is buying cars bigger than Fiesta's with cash. Almost all new metal moves through PCP, lease or Company car schemes. List price only affects road tax. The low running costs should translate into strong residuals and therefore low monthly payments.

That is why the mass market turned premium, because of residuals making posh leasing cheaper than buying mass market. Get a mass market car that has value at 2 years old (low running cost, future proof via hybrid etc) then you will get good residuals.

Good luck Toyota because whilst every leave voting kipper should be buying this car a load of them won't.

1 March 2019

"Nobody is buying cars bigger than Fiesta's with cash." - Rubbish, I did.  Even if strong residuals were everything we'd all be driving VW's and BMW's and the Ford Focus wouldn't be nr 1.  Afterall low running costs didn't Auris Hybrid fly off the shelf!

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

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