2014 Toyota Corolla Altis Test Drive Review

After very sluggish sales and the invasion of SUVs in the same space, the D-segment sedans have finally gotten interesting. While some players (read Honda Civic) may have moved out of the segment, there have been certainly new launches coming from different manufacturers that offer a lot more. With products from Europeans, Japanese and even Americans, the D-segment offers power, performance and luxury in a very compelling package. 2014 marks the 11th generation Toyota Corolla making its entry into the segment and we do a quick comparison against rivals to find out whether the all new Corolla lives up to the competition.

2014 Toyota Corolla Altis Test Drive Skoda Octavia vs Volkswagen Jetta vs Hyundai Elantra 2014 Renault Fluence Test Drive 2015 Chevrolet Cruze Facelift Front

1) Styling – A major leap from the older model, the 2014 Toyota Corolla has shed all inhibitions and is now young, fresh and vibrant with lots of chrome up front. The styling is up to the mark and is certainly the newest of the lot. Compared to the competition, the only car that makes for such a flamboyant appearance is the Hyundai Elantra which comes with the fluidic design sculpture. The updated Renault Fluence also manages to look suave with a French scarf and will appeal to those who like the unconventional. While the Volkswagen Jetta and Skoda Octavia have a modern and poised stance with clean lines, the Toyota manages to look a tad bit new comparatively and certainly scores on the styling front. The most aged of the lot is the Chevrolet Cruze of course, and the blemishes do show up on the sedan in comparison.

2) Features – The Corolla does feel premium and refined on the inside. Apart from a stylistic layout, you get automatic climate control, auto folding mirrors, rear parking camera, and a smart infotainment system with a 7-inch touchscreen that comes with navigation. You also get USB, AUX, SD card and Bluetooth connectivity options. In comparison, the build quality on the Jetta and Octavia will instantly get to you. The Fluence and Cruze also come with a roomy cabin, but miss out on the touchscreen infotainment system seen across the rivals. The Elantra is well equipped in this space and gets a lot of equipment to boast off. While all the models boast of excellent fit and finish, the attention to detail on the Germans is amazing. All models in the segment get leather upholstery standard in higher spec variants.

3) Powertrain – Starting with the petrol powered models, we leave out the Cruze and Fluence which come only with a diesel heart. The 2014 Toyota Corolla comes with a 1.8-litre VVT-i engine that produces 140 PS and 173 Nm of torque, paired to 6-speed manual and a 7-speed CVT gearbox. Being a Toyota, the engine is very smooth and is very refined. It has a certain polished factor to it, which the competition lacks at a certain level. The Octavia and Jetta on the other hand are powered by the same 1.4-litre TSI motor, the Skoda also getting a fabulous 1.8 TSI engine. But it is the Octavia that is more engaging and fun to drive, while also being lighter. The Elantra on the other hand comes with a 1.8-litre VTVT motor and is more powerful producing 150 PS. However, the car lacks dynamics which is the only sore point for this rev happy and potent motor.

Coming to the diesel variants, the Toyota Corolla is easily the most underpowered compared to the lot. The 1.4-litre D4-D mill produces 88 PS, while others in the segment easily come with larger hearts. Despite being a small motor, the Corolla does not feel strained and the smooth 6-speed manual gearbox does make up for the lack of power. However, if diesel fun is what you want, the Cruze does make a good case with the 2.0-litre motor producing 166 PS. The engine has power, performance and will leave a wide grin on your face. Catching up with the Cruze though are the Octavia and Jetta that also come with 2.0-litre powerplants. The Octavia does receive an edge courtesy of being lightweight, while the Jetta comes with paddle shifters. The Elantra’s 1.6-litre motor though may not be very powerful, but is surely frugal. The most neutral engine is the 1.5-litre dCi motor from the Fluence that manages a combination of power and fuel efficiency and is a proven workhorse.

4) Safety – All the cars in this segment are loaded with a host of safety equipment on board. The Corolla received a 5-star Euro NCAP rating and gets dual front airbags, ABS, EBD and Brake Assist. Toyota should have offered more airbags and safety options on the Corolla, especially considering the pricing of the vehicle. In comparison, the Jetta gets 6 airbags, ABS, EDL, TCS, ESC, EBD and gets a multi-link suspension; while the Octavia gets additional equipment like ASR, HBA, ESC, MKB, EDL and also gets Multi Collision Braking. Except the 1.8 TSI which gets multi-link suspension, the Octavia uses a torsion beam at the rear. The Renault Fluence comes with an array of safety equipment on board including ABS, EBD, Brake Assist, Traction Control, ESP, 4 airbags and anti-whiplash front headrests, while the Cruze misses out on a lot of equipment and comes with dual front and side airbags, ABS and auto door unlock in case of a crash.

5) Price – The 2014 Corolla petrol has been priced on par with the competition, but it is the diesel that hurts the wallet. The small motor and lack of features do not justify the premium price tag. The Hyundai Elantra also comes with a small engine compared to competition but more than makes up with the features on offer. The petrol variant is certainly a value for money proposition, while the diesel model misses out in comparison to the Fluence. Certainly, the Jetta and Octavia come with a better build quality and bigger engines, but the final price difference is huge in comparison. The Cruze is also on par with the competition, but misses out on features. Unless it is only power that you crave for, the Cruze does not have much to offer.

Verdict – The 2014 Toyota Corolla has come ahead from its predecessor by miles. It certainly excels in several departments, but does miss out on a few important ones. If it is rear seat comfort that you ask for, look no further. The Corolla will get you from point A to B in comfort and luxury, while also turning heads along the way and not burning a hole in your pocket. The petrol motor is spirited as well and will satisfy the enthusiast in you. The diesel however is best for those who like being driven or want the Toyota badge for its quality, reliability and not power. If power is what you want, the competition offers much more with a lot more features as standard.

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2014 Toyota Corolla Dashboard

2014 Toyota Corolla Altis Review