OVERVIEW – What is it?
Aptly, the biggest talking point of the new Corolla sedan since its launch is the TNGA (Toyota New Global Architecture) platform it underpins.
This alone warranted a lot of promises, key amongst which being driving dynamics, convenience and safety. From what we’ve experienced in other TNGA-based offerings like the Camry and C-HR prior, it’s easy to see why expectations are high for the Corolla.
Well, after properly sampling it on a recent weekend road trip to Pahang state’s beachfronts in Kuantan and Cherating, the Corolla seems to fulfill much of these promises.
DRIVING – What is it like on the road?
Pictured here is the 1.8G variant, which has tastier 17-inch alloy wheels and full-LED forward lighting setup that sets itself apart from its lesser 1.8E sibling. Unlike before, there’s only the familiar 1.8-litre 4cyl Dual VVT-i petrol mill and 7-ratio CVT automatic package powering both variants.
We’ll admit, 137bhp and 173Nm aren’t as exciting as the figures churned out by the rivaling Honda Civic and Mazda3. In its defense though, the Corolla doesn’t employ either direct injection or a turbocharger (or both), but this isn’t a deal-breaker given how reliable this simpler mill proved to be.
As far as ‘pep’ is concerned, the Corolla has enough to sate most urban and highway driving demands imaginable. The fact that you don’t need to do much in attaining a decent 14.5km/litre (6.8 litres/100km) fuel economy reading, even when subjected a routine mix of both highway and urban driving conditions, is a big plus.
Adding to that is the fairly balanced ride and handling. The suspension and dampers offer enough travel and softness for all occasions, but it’s evidently clear it leans more on the ‘comfort’ side of things. Our only gripe is the somewhat ‘mute’ steering feel, but again, this is no deal-breaker either.
Compared to its predecessor, this Corolla does drive much better. If anything, this bodes well with the semi-autonomous driver aids present in this range-topper such as adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist, which help make the Corolla less taxing to drive over long distances.
Sure, the rivalling Civic and Mazda3 are equally capable in this sense, perhaps in arguably better and sportier fashion too. Nevertheless, Toyota’s renowned simplicity and straightforward ease of mastery remains a strong draw.
Present here too is a blind-sport monitor, forward-collision warning, pre-collision braking, nifty tyre-pressure monitor, as well as automatic high-beam adjustment. What’s impressive is how these are all executed and presented – they don’t feel like after-thoughts as what we saw in current non-TNGA offerings.
Couple these with the presence of seven airbags with ABS and electronic stability control and the Corolla has arguably equaled itself with the benchmark-setting Civic which, incidentally, also costs slightly more.
ON THE INSIDE – Layout, finish and space
Up front, things are pleasant to say the least as all the key touch-points get soft-touch treatments to match the neat black-themed visual motif. Breaking this is a colourfully rich new digital dash display screen – a huge jump from its predecessor’s hybrid analogue-digital unit.
Space is generous up front, and drivers benefit from an 8-way electronic seat adjustment on top of tilt and telescopic steering adjustments –expected in this segment and price. However, the same can’t be said wit the cabin’s rear quarters. Headroom is a tad scarce compared to the rivaling Honda, but not as cramped as the other Mazda rival.
That aside, we know many will appreciate this range-topper’s leather seats, rear windscreen sunshade, keyless entry and ignition, as well as the dual-zone automatic climate control with rear vents – bits that make long stints much more bearable.
In terms of infotainment, the Mazda3’s intuitive interface is tough to beat. Nevertheless, the Corolla edges it – and the Civic – slightly by boasting a 360-degree Parking View Monitor (PVM) feature. Highly useful, so as long as you don’t nitpick on its poor display resolution.
Apart from that, there’s other bits like Apple CarPlay connectivity, wireless smartphone charging pad, and a forward-facing dashcam to bask in. Incidentally, all of which are standard-equipped, thus somewhat justifying this range-toppers asking price better.
...Toyota’s renowned simplicity and straightforward ease of mastery remains a strong draw.
OWNING – Running costs and reliability
The fact that Toyota retained its 1.8-litre 4cyl Dual VVT-i petrol mill and 7-speed CVT setup from the last Corolla says a lot. A full fill up of RON95 (based on current prices) won’t cost more than RM100 and should return at least 500km of mixed driving regimes.
Apart from that, there’s a five-year unlimited mileage warranty coverage included that ought to seal the deal as far as long-term ownership prospects go. Also, the fact that Toyotas rarely go wrong over this time frame only boosts this Corolla’s case further here.
If cars were like ice cream flavours, then the Corolla is effectively ‘vanilla’, but we’ll argue it’s one of the better ones.
Think of it as that richer and tastier vanilla ice cream you’d normally find in a posh grocer instead of the typical convenience store choice. You’ll never get tired of it over time as it delivers all its tasty pleasures without needing extra toppings sprinkled on.
|Tech and features count, fairly posh cabin, and a much better car to drive than before||Not the sportiest driver of the lot, and could use more headroom in the back|
(*with on going SST waiver until 31 Dec 2020)