Expect some sharper driving fun from the next-gen Corolla.
UNVEILED at the Geneva motor show yesterday and set to arrive locally before the end of the year, the 12th-generation Toyota Corolla is set to driving character commensurate with its dramatic new looks and fresh platform.
However, while Toyota New Zealand is promising extra fun from the latest edition, it has steered from offering thought about whether the extra dollop of character will see the car broaden its sales direction.
That the current and the previous Corolla have held comfortable status as the country’s top-selling passenger car for some years belies that almost all its volume comes from being the country’s best-selling fleet choice.
Toyota’s rivals cite that, without that business – which includes large take-up by rental companies – the Corolla would be an also-ran, as very few find their way into private ownership, at least at point of first registration.
Even so, the local operation’s general manager of product and new vehicle sales, Neeraj Lala, has suggested this version of the small hatchback has the goods to enhance its private owner street cred.
“The design is European-inspired and will offer customer a stunning and brand-new generation platform and engines options not seen before.”
Further, he adds, the Corolla will follow the CH-R, Prius and soon-to-land Camry in moving on to the latest Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) platform.
This will “offer a level of dynamic performance and efficiency we expect from Corolla” Lala says.
“Customers will enjoy the highest level of active and passive safety features – without compromising the pleasure of driving and having some fun behind the wheel.”
TNZ has not said exactly when the new hatch will arrive, however Toyota Australia is expected to take it in August, so presumably we will not be far behind.
As the show images reveal, the new car eschews many of the styling highlights of the present edition. The bonnet is flatter and has a clamshell shape, the grille is lower and it has similar headlights to those on the C-HR.
The rear end is also radically altered; more rakish clearly and also wider-hipped. Toyota stylists say the new design is to enhance a sense of compactness. Notwithstanding, there is a 20mm increase in rear overhang and the car is 40mm longer than before, at 4370mm. The roof is 25mm lower at its peak bringing overall height to 1450mm.
TNGA allows the new model to gain multi-link rear suspension and a more rigid body shell that Toyota says makes for better handling and stability without compromising ride and comfort.
It is also likely to be offered with more active safety features than the outgoing version, with Toyota stating that it will come with autonomous emergency braking.
The current (and previous) car’s 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol engine is being dropped for a new 2.0-litre petrol engine with cited outputs of 126kW and 205Nm, an increase of 23kW/32Nm. Fuel use and performance figures remain under wraps.
A replacement for the present hybrid Corolla is also available. This time it will be the latest version of the 1.8-litre unit delivering 91kW paired with a an electric drivetrain, allowing for some all-electric driving and with fuel efficiency that is said to rival the Prius.
Two other engines, a turbocharged 1.2-litre and a 2.0-litre petrol-electric hybrid variant, are expected to remain in Europe, where the model sells as the Auris.
Toyota has yet to allow a look inside, but the cabin is expected to take cues from the C-HR and the Camry, which will be on sale within a few weeks.
TNZ is yet to say where the NZ-market derivatives will be built, but expectation is that we will source the model out of Japan rather than the factory in England that meets UK and European demand for the Auris.
It is unclear when the new version of the Corolla sedan will be revealed.
Since its launch in New Zealand in 1967, Kiwis have bought more than 253,000 Corollas and it has been our top selling car since 2008 and was the top passenger choice of 2017, though bumped out by the Ford Ranger for overall best-seller status.