This is one of the most popular cars in the world and has been a constant feature on Aussie sales charts for decades, we find out why.
The Toyota Corolla is one of the best selling vehicles in the world, having sold more than 50m units over its lifetime. We get behind the wheel of the cheapest hybrid variant to find out what all the fuss is about.
Small-car prices have soared in recent years and Toyota’s Corolla range is no exception.
Prices start at about $29,000 drive-away for the base Ascent Sport and rise to $38,500 for the top-shelf ZR. You can add hybrid power for $2000 and a sedan body is available at no cost.
We tested the Ascent Sport Hybrid hatchback priced at about $31,000 drive-away.
The Ascent Sport model is a no-frills affair with 16-inch alloy wheels and LED lights.
Inside there’s an eight-inch touchscreen compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There are several USB charging points up front and Bluetooth connectivity. Satellite navigation and digital radio cost extra.
The instrument cluster feels outdated, featuring mostly analog dials with a small 4.2-inch digital information display. Toyota covers its cars with a five year/unlimited km warranty and capped price servicing is very cheap at just $205 a pop or $1025 over five years.
Toyota has some of the most comfortable seats in the business, providing good support and adjustability.
Ascent Sport variants have cloth trim, while there are hard plastic surfaces that can make the cabin feel a bit cold and uninviting.
There’s plenty of space up front for taller passengers, while the back seats are snug but have decent legroom for a small hatch.
There are no aircon vents or charging points for rear-seat passengers. The boot holds a miserly 217 litres, which is substantially less than the smaller Toyota Yaris hatchback. If you need more luggage space the sedan is a better bet as it has a 470-litre boot. The suspension does a good job of ironing out most bumps and road imperfections, but you’ll feel bigger lumps and corrugations. Road noise is intrusive over rough road surfaces.
The Ascent Sport grade misses out on key safety items such as blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, which alerts you to cars approaching from the side as you reverse. You’ll need to fork out an extra $3000 for the SX grade for those features.
The Corolla will automatically hit the brakes if it detects a potential collision with a car, pedestrian or cyclist. Lane-keep assist will tug the steering wheel to keep you on track if it senses you wandering. Seven airbags provide comprehensive crash protection.
Toyota combines a 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with an electric motor to make 90kW. There are no official combined torque figures.
It feels zippy off the mark thanks to the electric motor and it feels most at home darting around in traffic. On the highway it feels stable, but it lacks the grunt for fuss-free overtaking. Toyota has pushed the wheels out to the corners of the vehicle, giving it a planted feel and go-kart-like cornering. The short front and rear overhangs make it one of the easier cars to park in tight urban environments.
Fuel use is the big selling point. The Hybrid drinks just 4.2L/100km of the cheapest unleaded petrol. The Corolla will actually hit this number in the real world and if you’re careful with the throttle you can beat the official number at times in traffic.
The Corolla Hybrid is a pleasant driving hatchback that is expensive to buy but cheap to run and own.
Kia Cerato S, from $27,490 drive-away
Cheap and well equipped small car that is missing some key safety gear.
Mazda3 Pure, from about $31,200 drive-away
Good looks and class leading standard safety. Thirsty compared to the hybrid, though.
Hyundai i30, from $27,990 drive-away
Well built with a more powerful engine, but misses some safety tech.
TOYOTA COROLLA ASCENT SPORT HYBRID VITALS
PRICE About $31,000 drive-away
ENGINE 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine and electric motor, 90kW
WARRANTY/SERVICING Five-year/unlimited km, $1025 over five years
SAFETY Seven airbags, auto emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane-keep assist and radar cruise control
LUGGAGE 217 litres