2014 Toyota Corolla Altis Review
Car Tested: 2014 Toyota Corolla Altis
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 14.28 – 20.18 lakhs
The new Corolla Altis goes a step up, offering a good blend of style, luxury and comfort.
The D-segment sedan space is getting popular with every passing day in India. However, the Toyota Corolla has been there and been strong since its introduction in our county. The Japanese automaker now plans to add some spice to this segment with the new, eleventh generation Toyota Corolla Altis. The Toyota Corolla is one of the best selling cars in the world and more than 40 million units have been sold since its birth. The chief engineer’s objective for the new Corolla Altis was to add “Wakudoki” feel to “Peace of Mind”, where Waku means enthusiasm/anticipation and Doki means heart pounding. So we find out whether the new offering retains its renowned character and has enough extra spice to deal with the mature sedan segment.
Motor Quest: The Toyota Corolla was first introduced in 1966 and achieved the title of the world’s best selling car in 1974 and since then it has been one of the best selling cars across the globe. The Toyota Corolla was a rear-wheel drive car until its fifth generation model. Sixth generation onwards, the Corolla has been a front-wheel drive vehicle.
Exteriors – The conservative styling of the outgoing Toyota Corolla Altis has gone and how! One look at the new generation Altis and you are bound to be surprised by the elegant and bold new styling. It has grown muscular from nose to tail for a confident road presence. It looks complete from all angles, walk around the car and you won’t be able to spot a single odd dimension. The attention to detail is immaculate, for instance, the infusion of the front chrome grille with the swept back headlamps is seamless that dominates the front styling. There are strong bonnet bulges on either side that merges with the front bumper styling and looks aggressive.
The confident side profile stance of the new Toyota Corolla Altis includes strong shoulder lines and neat lower crease running throughout, highlighting the 100 mm longer wheelbase. Then there is a smooth roofline that integrates well with the boot and tastefully done, sharp alloys wheels. The rear section looks exquisite and neatly done. The brawny rear bumper gels together with the design theme and features parking sensors with reflectors on either side. The tail lamps are sizeable, which are connected with a thick chrome belt, highlighting the number plate housing.
Interiors – Step inside the cabin and you’ll be surprised again by the distinctive ‘out of the box’ styling of the dashboard. The dual tone layout involves three different layers that look chic. There is a mix of black, beige and silver along with a carbon-fibre inspired panel for the centre console. The three-spoke contoured steering feels good to hold, having a brushed aluminium finish at the bottom and paddle shifts on the automatic version. The wheel has reach and rake manual adjustment. The steering mounted buttons are ergonomically placed and there is a cruise control stalk mounted behind the wheel, on the column. Instrument cluster is very neatly done with simple yet stylish layout. Two chrome pods are placed on either side of the MID for tachometer and speedometer with analogue fuel and temperature gauge. The blue illumination and theme of the console is sober and not in-your-face, so it’s easy to read. The MID shows all the necessary information including outside temperature, gear selection, fuel info, trip, etc. Quality of the materials feel rich and well screwed together, putting a tough fight to the competition.
On the right hand side of the steering there is a button to switch on/off parking sensors, mirror folding and adjustment controls along with a tempting engine start/stop button. Further down you’ll find a small storage space for parking tickets, coins, etc. and the bonnet lever is placed in a way that you don’t have to crouch further down. The fuel lid and boot opening controls are stacked together traditionally on the floor. The new Corolla has automatic climate control with user friendly layout of a single temperature dial and buttons for air volume and different settings. The air conditioning is very effective but sadly there are no air vents for the rear passengers. There are blue-illuminated cup holders at the front along with a decent arm-rest with storage space. All rear-view mirrors provide good and wide view.
There is a well sized 7-inch touch screen with only a single button on the side to operate the menu. It has Navigation, USB, AUX, SD Card and Bluetooth connectivity. You can also charge your phone via a USB cable. The Bluetooth integration is extensive and pairing the phone is a few touches away on the screen, which is responsive. Once connected, you can access your entire phonebook. The screen also doubles up as a display for rear parking camera. Music streaming is good as well, tracks change with steering controls and even if you switch off the car, leave and come back, the Bluetooth gets connected and resumes the music last played, neat! Audio quality is good by OEM standards.
The driver’s foot-well is wide and gets a big dead pedal for additional comfort. The seats are supportive and cozy. While the front passenger seat is manually adjustable, the driver gets eight-way electronically adjustable seats with lumbar support and good flexibility. The additional 100 mm of wheelbase on the new Toyota Corolla Altis is evident at the rear. There is ample amount of legroom for rear passengers with an almost non-existent floor hump, so three people can sit easily. Headroom and shoulder room would also be appreciated in the new Corolla. There is good all-round support with well cushioned seats and a wide arm-rest with cup-holders. The rear seats are reclinable too and there is a power socket for rear passengers. Enough storage space is provided including deep glovebox and cup, bottle and sunglass holders. Boot is accommodating at 470-litres and there is a full-size spare alloy wheel underneath. Rear seats have 60:40 split for additional cargo space. Other convenient features include auto headlamps, rain sensing wipers, smart key and driver side one touch up/down mirrors.
Performance – The Toyota Corolla Altis is powered by the same diesel and petrol engine options from the outgoing model. The 1.4-litre, 4-cylinder diesel engine produces 88.4 PS of power at 3800 RPM and 205 Nm of torque at 1800-2800 RPM. The oil burner is quite small in capacity for a car of this size. The refinement and NVH levels are good though, which means no ugly diesel clatter whatsoever inside the cabin during startup and on the move. Of course you can make out the engine rumble at high revs but it’s muted to a great extent. The power delivery is ineffectual and flat in the initial rev range but decent for city traffic and when the turbo kicks in at around 1900 RPM, there is linear acceleration. To keep the continual response, the engine needs to be kept in the mid and top end of the power band. Also, while overtaking, it wants a downshift or two. The motor doesn’t feel strained while redlining. Mated to the 1.4-litre diesel is a 6-speed manual gearbox, which is slick, short and clicks well into gates. Along with a smooth transmission. the clutch is light, which is a perfect recipe for less fatigue in city traffic. The sixth gear is tall for comfortable highway cruising and the motor is relaxed doing 100 km/hr at 2000 RPM in top gear.
The 1.8-litre, 4-cylinder petrol engine produces 140 PS at 6400 RPM and 173 Nm of torque at 4000 RPM. This motor is quite peppy throughout the rev range with linear and strong power delivery. This motor is quite refined and feels silky smooth, even while redlining. Our media drive vehicle was mated to a 7-step close-ratio CVT automatic transmission. Now we know that CVTs aren’t much involving and fun to drive but when we got behind the wheel of the new Corolla Altis CVT, we were pleasantly surprised. Of course there is the typical ‘rubber-band’ effect because of the pulley mechanism but it’s quite refined and a well-mated unit. With gentle and part throttle inputs, the CVT works seamlessly delivering power in a smooth manner. Mash the throttle and the CVT starts stretching itself with strong acceleration. It is quite rev friendly and while redlining, the engine sound isn’t ugly and it’s muted to some extent.
To take control of the ratios, it comes with steering mounded paddle shifts that give reassuring feedback and the shifts are lightning quick. Shifting ratios is quite fun actually and it doesn’t even hesitate much in downshifting because of the flexible CVT mechanism but when it does, a ‘beep-beep’ sound comes from the cluster that you can’t downshift further, smart! This setup is quite convenient for city and highway drivability. Again, both the engines are offered keeping in mind fuel economy and practicality but not outright performance, which is better than rivals. Expect both diesel and petrol engines to be more frugal because of the lighter weight of the new Toyota Corolla Altis. MID of our media test cars showed fuel average of 13.8 km/l for the diesel and 7.6 km/l for the petrol automatic, which can be taken with a pinch of salt because the cars were redlined most of the time.
Driving Dynamics – Toyota cars are usually known for their comfort oriented suspension setup. The new Corolla Altis has McPherson Strut at the front and Torsion Beam for the rear. The Japanese automaker has managed to achieve a good balance of ride and handling with a more comfort oriented layout. The softly sprung suspension makes the ride pliant in most of the road conditions and at variable speeds. It absorbs potholes and undulations smoothly, without giving much vertical movement inside the cabin. There is no sharp sound and feel from the suspension over bad roads and it just thuds at broken and harsh section of roads. At high speeds, it lacks the solid feel of its European rivals but it is composed enough for highway confidence.
Handling has improved and it is quite responsive in corners, maintaining its line with confidence. However, there is some body roll while cornering hard and the steering feedback is on the lighter side. For a well cushioned ride and strong grip, the 205/55/R16 Yokohama tyres do a fantastic job. The steering is light and easy for maneuvering at slow speeds and weighs up as the speed increases but not as much as we would have liked. Braking performance is brisk with a controlled nose-dive and positive pedal feedback.
Safety – The 2014 Toyota Corolla has already been crash tested by Euro NCAP and it gets a full five star rating for its safety. Adult occupant gets 94 percent, child occupant gets 82 percent, pedestrian gets 67 percent while the safety assist features score 66 percent. However, the India spec Corolla Altis gets dual airbags only for front passenger and driver, which is a letdown considering the fact that even lower segment cars offer more airbags and safety awareness in India is increasing. Other safety features include ABS, EBD and Brake Assist. The Corolla tested at NCAP gets seven airbags and Electronic Stability Program (ESP).
Verdict – The 2014 Toyota Corolla Altis is back with a bang. The styling has vastly improved, so much so that it looks better than most of the competition. Interiors are distinctive yet luxurious and there are enough features on offer to make you feel special. In terms of comfort, the new Altis is a tough nut to crack in this segment with a spacious cabin and pliant ride. However, new engine options would have been appreciated, especially the diesel, which is underpowered for a car of this size and a few safety features are sorely missing for this segment. Toyota cars are known for their interior quality, comfortable ride and durability. Such has been the case with the Corolla until now but along with this, Toyota has definitely managed to add the ‘Wakudoki’ factor to the new eleventh generation Corolla.
The Toyota Corolla is a good leap forward in comparison to the outgoing model. It is quite stylish, tech laden and comfortable. Engine options offered with the new Corolla don’t really excite much in comparison to its German rivals. The new Corolla Altis offers an appealing and well-rounded package. Otherwise if you want outright performance with fun behind the wheel, Czech Republic and Wolfsburg are the options.
* Bold New Exteriors
* Interior Styling and Quality
* Ride Quality
* CVT Paddle Shifts
What’s Not So Cool
* Small Capacity Diesel
* No Rear AC Vents
* Limited Safety Features
2014 Toyota Corolla Altis Specifications
* Engine: 1364cc, 4-cylinder (D), 1798cc, 4-cylinder (P)
* Power: 88.4 PS @ 3800 RPM (D), 140 PS @ 6400 RPM (P)
* Torque: 205 Nm @ 1800-2800 RPM (D), 173 Nm @ 4000 RPM (P)
* Transmission: 6-speed manual (D), 6-speed manual, CVT (P)
* Top Speed: 170 km/hr (D), 200 km/hr (P) (est.)
* 0-100 km/hr: 16 seconds (D), 11 seconds (P) (est.)
* Fuel Consumption: 16 km/l (D), 10 km/l (P)
* Fuel Type: Diesel, Petrol
* Suspension: MacPherson Struts (Front), Torsion Beam (Rear)
* Tyres: 205/55/16 Tubeless
* Brakes: Ventilated Disc (Front), Disc (Rear)
* Safety: Immobiliser, Dual Front Airbags, ABS, EBD, Brake Assist
2014 Toyota Corolla Altis Dimensions
* Overall length x width x height: 4620 mm X 1775 mm X 1475 mm
* Wheelbase: 2700 mm
* Turning Radius: 5.4 metres
* Ground clearance: 160 mm (est.)
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 50 litres
* Kerb Weight: 1270 kgs
* Boot Volume: 470-litres