The 2014 Toyota Corolla is the 11th generation since 1966 and in this time more than 40 million units have been sold worldwide. In South Africa that number has reached 980 000 following its local introduction in the mid 70s and, just last November, the 1 millionth example rolled off the production line at the company’s Prospecton Plant in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal. It’s these big numbers that make the Toyota Corolla such a big car, and a car that Toyota SA Motors sees as being key in its market share growth in 2014, despite a forecast of sideways or declining vehicle sales.
Toyota describe their new Corolla as ‘assertive’, and there’s little reason to argue. Sharper lines and bolder surfaces run the length of the longer wheelbase, while a lower roof height and wider styled front grille both add to the car’s lower looking stance. In absolute terms, the new Corolla is 80 mm longer, 15 mm wider and 5 mm lower than its predecessor. The rear overhang has been reduced by 25 mm, the front overhang increased by 5 mm and the wheelbase extended by a substantial 100 mm.
It’s the larger wheelbase that affords generous interior space, whether in the front, rear or cargo area (452-litres). An upright styled dashboard, as opposed to the wrap-around or ‘cockpit’ type that has become widely popular, also goes some way to creating a roomier cabin. Leather seats are standard with all but the basic ‘Esteem’ specification, while Prestige, Sprinter and Exclusive trim levels add equipment ranging from air-conditioning to a TFT colour touch-screen infotainment system, reverse parking camera, electrochromatic mirrors, cruise control and more.
Three petrol engines and one turbocharged diesel engine are available. The 1.4-litre D-4D turbocharged 4-cylinder is new to the Corolla range and effectively replaces the previous 2.0-litre unit as the sole diesel offering. With 66 kW and 205 Nm, the 1.4 delivers a combined cycle fuel consumption figure of 4.5 l/100km and CO2 emissions below the tax threshold at 119 g/km. The 1.3-, 1.6- and 1.8-litre petrol engines all feature Dual Variable Valve Timing-intelligent (Dual VVT-i) for a blend of performance and efficiency. The 1.3-litre generates 73 kW and 128 Nm, with combined cycle fuel consumption of 6.0 l/10km and CO2 emissions of 139 g/km.
The 1.6-litre generates 90 kW and 154 Nm, with combined cycle fuel consumption of 6.6 l/100km and CO2 emissions of 157 g/km. Paired with the new Multidrive S CVT transmission, the Corolla 1.6 averages 6.3 l/100km and 150 g/km of CO2. The range-topping 1.8 Dual VVT-i delivers 103 kW, 173 Nm and average fuel consumption of 7.0 l/100km, or 6.4 l/100km when mated to the Multidrive S transmission.
Performance across the range is as expected from the Corolla nameplate, which is to say ‘adequate’. Acceleration from 0 – 100 km/h varies between 12.6 seconds for the small capacity 1.3 Dual VVT-i to 10.2 seconds for the 1.8 with Multidrive S.
The Multidrive S CVT transmission offers three modes: fully automatic; sport or sequential. The automatic mode sees the transmission making the best use of available torque and power at all times, by monitoring accelerator pedal angle, vehicle speed and braking force. In sport mode, the CVT ‘box ensures that the gear ratio relates to the engine speed for the best response, whether requiring engine compression or acceleration. The sequential mode offers 7 pre-programmed close ratios, which the driver can change between via the shift lever, for control of the transmission. This is a welcome feature for sportier driving or, for example, when overtaking or towing (up to 1-tonne) and a single gear ratio is desired.
The Cape Town launch included a range of driving environments, from urban to extra urban and Friday afternoon stop/start city traffic. Having sampled all powerplants bar the entry-level 1.3, it has to be said that the modest capacity turbocharged diesel made the biggest impression. On paper the figures don’t appear particularly encouraging, especially when considering the Corolla weighs 1.7-tonnes, but the newest Corolla D-4D requires surprisingly few down shifts to maintain a comfortable cruising speed, whilst still having enough power in reserve for overtaking.
The 2014 Corolla has been thoroughly redesigned for improved driving dynamics and safety. The body shell is slightly lighter (5.7 kg), but is more rigid than before. The combination of MacPherson struts in front and torsion beam axle at the rear, together with new suspension geometry that features, among other things, 35 mm thicker shock absorbers, gives the Corolla a compliant and composed ride.
In combination with 55 profile tyres fitted to all Prestige specification models, even some of the Cape’s bumpiest country roads passed beneath the Corolla with little consideration. The same goes for the transmission, which shifts through the cogs uneventfully and efficiently. Granted, the introductory drive didn’t provide an opportunity to give the car a work out, but the chassis feels light on its proverbial feet, the car tracks well and the steering responds accurately.
The 2014 Corolla meets contemporary safety standards, having achieved a 5-star Euro NCAP safety rating. In addition to the more rigid, and therefore secure, body structure, standard equipment across the range includes: 7 passenger airbags; Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS); Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist (BAS). Pedestrian protection has also been improved through the integration of special energy absorbent structures into the front bumper, grille, fenders and bonnet.
In its 47 years the Corolla has become one of the world’s most successful motoring marques and first impressions, along with Toyota’s keen initial pricing, mean it would be foolish to suggest the 11th generation will be anything less.
|Toyota Corolla 1.3 Esteem||R214 900|
|Toyota Corolla 1.3 Prestige||R232 900|
|Toyota Corolla 1.4 D-4D Esteem||R237 900|
|Toyota Corolla 1.4 D-4D Prestige||R249 900|
|Toyota Corolla 1.6 Esteem||R225 900|
|Toyota Corolla 1.6 Prestige||R241 900|
|Toyota Corolla 1.6 Prestige Multidrive S||R252 900|
|Toyota Corolla 1.6 Sprinter||R248 900|
|Toyota Corolla 1.8 Prestige||R251 900|
|Toyota Corolla 1.8 Exclusive||R272 900|
|Toyota Corolla 1.6 Exclusive Multidrive S||R283 900|
Pricing includes a 3-year / 100 000 km warranty, 5-year / 90 000 km service plan and 24-hour roadside assistance.