Has a big oops moment gazumped the launch of the latest version of Toyota’s most important car?
AN enterprising writer’s cheeky appraisal of a yet-to-be-released next generation version of a popular Toyota has not dissuaded the brand from striving – perhaps ever-fruitlessly - to keep a veil of secrecy over its details.
The next generation Corolla is a key model for Toyota New Zealand, being not only the brand’s single most popular model but also figuring as the country’s favourite car. The latter status is largely on the back of its stranglehold on the company fleet and rental sector.
Toyota New Zealand has planned a big media launch for the new model, running out of its home turf, Palmerston North, in the first full week of September.
Regardless, cars are patently already going into dealerships and that’s how this week’s advance story was scored – by a junior writer for a major daily newspaper claiming he was able to stroll in and request a test drive which lasted 30 minutes.
TNZ has since backed the veracity of a piece which, while trumpeting as an exclusive, skirts around how the author represented himself: As a motoring writer – which would have seemed a professional courtesy - or as a customer. It simply states that “one thing led to another.”
An email from TNZ to this writer made clear this was not an authorised preview but the result of a dealership having mistakenly allowed a writer behind the wheel.
What damage to the carefully-constructed media reveal strategy has been done by a piece that appeared on the publication’s website and provided detail – but not the price - and numerous images of his ride, the flagship ZR hatch, can only be imagined.
TNZ’s media department made clear today that it was not ready to start issuing information, let alone cars for press evaluation, until after the launch has taken place three weeks from now.
“Detail isn’t to be released until the media launch, with the drive program (sic) following thereafter.”
The brand has actually spoken about the new line, but mainly to express confidence about it believes it will stand a stronger chance of attracting private ownership than its predecessors.
A flood of technical information is easily available – if a dealer cannot help, then a quick internet check of stories from Australia, where the car has just gone on sale, will totally scratch that itch. Today’s photos are of Australian-market stock.
It would appear our neighbour’s lineup in very similar to ours, in particular in the selection two models, SX and ZR, with the new engine, a naturally-aspirated 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine with 125kW and 200Nm - 21 percent more power and 15 percent more torque than the outgoing 1.8-litre. There's also a Hybrid variant, which comes equipped with a 72kW 1.8-litre petrol engine paired with a supporting hybrid system.
A MotoringNZ story published on July 23 also revealed how the model delivers more advanced safety technology to the class with its array of active driver assistance and passive protection features.
Active cruise control, a pre-collision safety system, seven airbags, and reversing camera are all set to be standard across what is appears to be a three-model Corolla hatch range, all continuing with the constantly variable transmission from the current car.
The outgoing range has had some of the more advanced accident avoidance features, but only at high level.
Headlining the features is an Active Cruise Control system. Using a system of cameras and other sensors to maintain a set distance to the car in front, the driver is able to set a cruising speed of between 30kmh and 180kmh with the system operating at all speeds down to a complete stop.
The new cars are also fitted with a suite of advanced safety features to help avoid collisions including an active pre-collision safety system with autonomous emergency braking and pedestrian and cyclist detection.
If a potential collision is detected, the PCS system will initially employ a visual and audible warning, then brake assistance and if the driver fails to heed the warnings, full automatic braking to assist the driver to bring the car to a complete stop.
Also incoming is an advanced lane departure warning and support system with multiple functions.
If the car deviates from the lane unintentionally, the lane departure alert will first issue an audible and visual warning before providing gentle steering assistance to encourage the driver to move back into the lane.
To help reduce the potential of fatigue-related collisions, the system also includes a sway warning function that displays a warning prompting the driver to take a break if the system detects the car swerving due to driver inattention.
There’s also a lane trace assist function that works when the ACC is activated.
The lane centring function uses detection of the lane markings as well as the position of the vehicle ahead and then provides steering assistance to ensure the car stays centred in the lane.
It is designed to function on highways and freeways, but if the driver removes their hands from the steering wheel, they receive visual and audio warnings.
Another technology expected to be standard is an automatic high beam system for the headlights and a road sign assist system that is designed to recognise speed limit signs and displays them on the multi information display in the instrument cluster.
A blind spot monitor will come to mid and high-spec cars while the flagship has a head-up display.
Corolla also comes standard with a rear-view camera with guidelines and all models have seven airbags.