2014 Toyota Corolla
I for one, welcomed the news of a new Toyota Corolla with immediate alacrity. The outgoing model was dull, boring and drab. But that didn’t sway sales of the Corolla as it topped sales charts…again. Duh. Every year, about 1,1 million Corollas get delivered to customers worldwide. In South Africa, the sales success continues and over 980,000 Corollas have made their way to South African owners since it first launched here in 1966. The Corolla name badge is the most successful sales story in automotive history. So my own silly opinion is not shared by many many people in the world. Maybe you should stop reading now.
That said, the Corolla reputation was one that actually came close to my initial opinion. It was very reliable. It was relatively fuel efficient. It was good value for money and backed by a tried and trusted name and dealer network. It was conventionally designed. It was the best, rational option of an A-B set of wheels.
Toyota hopes to ditch that reputation with this new Corolla offering higher levels of sophistication, a fresh new face and more practicality. On the face of it, they seem to have done just that.
Though I am not blown away by the looks, it is certainly a lot more striking continuing the design cues of the Auris and Yaris, albeit in a more classier package. The front is arguably the most interesting with a new chrome louvred grille that flows neatly into the headlamps and further back, the sharper wing mirrors finish off a more upmarket-looking car.
The cabin is even classier with a very neat, uncluttered facia. The vehicle functions and settings are mostly all bundled into an easy to use touchscreen interface that controls audio, Bluetooth and vehicle settings. A fantastic feature is the inclusion of a reversing camera that comes as standard across most of the range. The cabin is also more spacious thanks to an additional 100mm on the wheelbase. It’s definitely a clutter-free, airy space and if you can get over the business-savvy use of universal Toyota bits and buttons, the interior of the Corolla scores quite nicely.
I drove the 1,6 Prestige model that comes with a full leather interior, power steering, electric windows and an audio system with integrated DVD and Bluetooth functionality. At R241,900 the price is definitely competitive especially considering the wealth of the Corolla reputation.
The drive is nothing short of…normal. It is, as expected, a very comfortable ride. Dynamically the Corolla has definitely improved feeling a lot more sure-footed and sharp. I found the Corolla to be happiest when cruising the country at the national speed limits in 6th. For anything else, the engine needs to be revved to achieve any measure of speed and the downside is a poor attempt in the economy figures. I turned in an uncomfortable 8.0l per 100km average and it was more than I expected. It is certainly more than the claimed 6,6l per 100km.
On the whole, Toyota have taken a good car and made a better one. By extrapolation then, the sales charts should soar. Again. Even better than previous sales records. I still don’t like Corolla’s but I am obviously one of one in the world. I take consolation in the fact that it does have some serious competition in the Hyundai Elantra and the new Kia Cerato. These cars have better styling, better features(in some cases) and are even better priced. Will that make a difference? Probably not a significant difference but if I was in the market for any of these, the Corolla would be my third choice. For everyone else I’m afraid, it would win. Again. As it always does.