Toyota Corolla Review
Car Tested: 2014 Toyota Corolla
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 13-18 lakhs (est.)
The 2014 Toyota Corolla takes a giant leap to compete head-on with its potent rivals.
Without a shade of doubt, the biggest and most significant new Toyota model this year for many global markets including India is the 2014 Toyota Corolla. For the Japanese brand, this global model has always been a strong seller, but with fierce competition in the segment, the outgoing Corolla was outclassed by more stylish, more fuel efficient and better performing rivals in the D-segment. It’s no secret that in most markets every significant Corolla competitor has been redesigned over the past few years. And it’s also a fact that Toyota hasn’t failed to recognise. So, what would be Toyota’s strategy? Would it succumb to competition, seek a way out or fight back? Knowing Toyota and how it operates, one would have thought that the carmaker would evolve a successor and hope that the market accepts this. Surprisingly, for all of us, the incoming 2014 Toyota Corolla represents a revolution more than a mere succession. As a result, the all new eleventh generation Toyota Corolla is designed new from the ground up and it’s much bolder than what some conservative Corolla loyalists might have expected it to be.
Motor Quest: Toyota launched the first Corolla in 1966 and the vehicle became the world’s best-selling car in 1974. Toyota has sold more than 40 million units of the Corolla whose initial generations were rear-wheel drive.
Toyota offers the Corolla in various global markets besides Japan where the domestic models are slightly smaller to comply with tax bands. And in markets like the US, the styling of the Corolla is more influenced by the Furia concept. The ASEAN model styling is more influenced by the newer global models sold in the Middle East like the Camry, Yaris or Avalon. And this is what excites us and it should also ignite passion in the segment as well as with Corolla loyalists. With a length of 4620 mm, width of 1775 mm and height of 1460 mm, the incoming model is slightly longer, lower and wider than the outgoing model. In terms of looks, it sports pleasant sedan proportions where its 2700 mm slightly longer wheelbase contributes in its more athletic proportions with a wider and lower stance.
The Corolla’s front and rear end have drastically changed in profile and detailing which also communicates continuity and maturity in the brand’s new styling theme which is already introduced on the larger Camry and Avalon sedan, and also in the smaller recently introduced Yaris. The detailing includes a very strong front-end design which is supported by pronounced crease-lines on sheet metal. The design appears youthful and actually lifts the veil of anonymity of the older models and moves it right in front of the trendy lot. In addition, depending on trim levels, LED daytime lights are also available now.
The interiors of the all new Toyota Corolla proudly complement what’s been done outside. It’s a sea of change in design, materials and touch points and perceived space. The increased overall length of the car allows a considerable increase in cabin space and genuinely helps increase rear passenger legroom. The rear seat hip point is moved rearward a full three inches, producing upto 25 mm more rear legroom. As never before, the rear occupant space availability is top notch for three adults. Increased overall vehicle length has also allowed an improved seating position for front occupants in particular. The driver also gets improved ergonomics as the steering column angle has been reduced from 24-degrees to 22-degrees.
Front seat adjustment range has also increased by over half an inch and while small as these changes sound, one must appreciate the efforts in the tight battle, where every increment in useable occupant space is hard-won and always welcome. One of the Corolla’s strongest suits is its seats. The front seats are absolutely superb, with firm, well-fitted side bolsters and proper lumbar support. And in terms of cargo space in the boot, there’s good news, it has grown thanks to the increase in overall length of the car.
Our test vehicle for this report was the 2.0-litre set-up and this trim included keyless stop/start ignition. We feel after driving the car in and around Muscat, that while the its performance has struck us as being an agreeable small sedan to drive, but Toyota could have bettered the plot with an additional two cogs or opt for CVT transmission. During hard acceleration, while we were not expecting the timid Corolla to qualify as a sports sedan, it would be fair to say that end of the day the newest Corolla drives much like the previous one, which isn’t a bad thing when you consider that Toyota has virtually hallmarked its bulletproof engineering and reliability in this model series.
The best thing about the new 2.0-litre engine is that it never feels as if it’s straining to keep up with traffic or unable to deal with the unexpected. But as mentioned before, for the type of engine provided, we feel there’s scope for extra cogs and due to the older set up, in place of inspiring performance, the car offers unpretentiousness that expresses itself as familiar Corolla character. In India, we will continue to get the same 1.8-litre petrol and 1.4-litre diesel engines with increased output, albeit marginal. In general, the car feels solid, thanks to its structural rigidity and construction and efforts made to reduce wind resistance is commendable. The car’s drag coefficient of 0.28 Cd places it near the top of the current D-segment class.
The front suspension uses McPherson struts with a new, more rigid control-arm design and the rear has a torsion beam arrangement. The spring rates on the Toyota Corolla are said to be relaxed for comfort ride and bushing tuning to offer stiffer handling. The rear torsion beam’s attachment points are now fastened to the body at a slanted, diagonal angle for its bushings, a departure from the traditional straight attachment orientation, the new layout contributes to improved grip and stability. On the road, the car’s MacPherson strut and rear torsion beam suspension provides a comfortable ride and we noted that shock absorber spring compliance is much better with full load of five passengers.
From the efficiency perspective, the new model comes equipped with an electric power steering system designed to offer improved directness and weight over the previous hydraulic set-up. The electric steering weight is nice, precise but can appear numb to those drivers familiar with sporty set-ups because it is over-assisted. Steering lock-to-lock is in 3.19 turns and this makes the car easy to manoeuvre in tight spots. Braking duties are attended by 275 mm ventilated discs at the front and 229 mm rear drums. Pedal modulation is on the softer side and braking effort linear. Safety remains key priority in the new Corolla, with top class active and passive systems on board. Toyota’s Star active safety technology system, including vehicle stability control, anti-lock braking, smart stop and brake assist, is also included standard.
Toyota’s Corolla is a perennial favourite among car buyers worldwide and in India where it was introduced in 2003, due to its solid engineering and reliability credentials. With intense competition coming from Chevrolet, Hyundai, Volkswagen, Skoda in particular, Toyota is expected to rely heavily on its longstanding reputation for building cars that are affordable, of good quality, and above all, extremely reliable. This means punters can look forward to the most stylish Corolla ever built in two powertrain options and a variety of attractive trims.
The eleventh generation Toyota Corolla is vastly improved in almost all areas while retaining the good bits it has always been known for. It is bound to be extremely popular in India where it is set to be launched in early-2014.
* All round styling
* Ride and handling balance
* Quality and reliability
What’s Not So Cool
* Engines lack horses