From £20,3548
US-spec model suggests there’s plenty of promise in the new Corolla for those who enjoy their driving

Our Verdict

Toyota Corolla hybrid hatchback 2019 road test review - hero front

Toyota's new British built hatchback sees the world’s best-selling nameplate return as a rebranded hybrid hatchback

Richard Bremner Autocar
18 December 2018
Toyota Corolla 2.0 XSE CVT 2019

What is it?

This largely new car revives an old name but rides on a fresh platform and replaces the Auris, which was engineered specifically for Europe and sold largely here.

Like Corollas past, this one is a world car, although the flexibility of the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) platform philosophy promises a car potentially more suitable for European tastes than the Auris ever was.

Like the Auris, the Corolla will be built at Toyota’s Burnaston plant, and it will be offered with the familiar 1.2-litre petrol engine and a choice of two petrol hybrid powertrains of either 1.8 litres and 118bhp, or 2.0 litres and 176bhp. Both of these come with CVT automatic transmissions, as is Toyota’s hybrid way, whereas the 1.2 has a six-speed manual.

At the core of this new Corolla is a body structure that’s no less than 60% stiffer, underpinned by an all-new suspension that includes a multilink rear axle as standard and the option of electronic dampers. Apart from its extra strength, an additional benefit of the TNGA hardware is its lower centre of gravity. Also much improved from the Auris – and it needed to be – is the Corolla’s interior.

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

What's it like?

Rather than sitting before an ugly, cliff-like dashboard assembled from an assortment of unyielding plastics, you now view an appealing, sculpted, part-stitched and sheathed facia crowned by a conveniently protuberant infotainment screen and, ahead of the driver, a neat instrument binnacle filled with blue-glowing instruments.

The infotainment system is easy to use, too. The climate control knobs are rubber, as are the bits you grip of the door pulls, the upholstery you’d consider for a domestic sofa and the cabin architecture shows plentiful signs of sculptural flair.

It’s hardly a revolution, but this is a cabin designed with more than the perfunctory box-ticking mindset evident in many Toyotas past. The powertrain in this US-spec Corolla won’t be coming to the UK because this a straightforward petrol 2.0-litre. But it’s only 10bhp shy of the output of the more powerful 1.8 VVTi hybrid that we’ll get here and, set-up details apart, it has the same chassis. True, the all-up weight, and its distribution, will be different, but this car should provide a solid clue to the Corolla’s dynamic character.

Which is a mix of the familiar and the surprising. The familiar is a CVT automatic, which, on a twisty road demanding much work with the accelerator, produces the kind of hammering, yammering sounds that CVTs too often induce from four-cylinder engines. It’s less strident than many, which is good, but it’s fortunate that you can partly mitigate its 5000rpm whinings by using the Corolla’s paddle shifts, especially as this is not the sweetest of 2.0 litres.

You might think all this irrelevant in a Corolla, a car that’s as much about the joy of driving as battling to get your bag into an Airbus overhead locker is about the joy of flight.

But on the wet, switchback twists of the Angeles Crest Highway, this Corolla XSE offered plenty of grip, balance and the kind of supple compliance that encourages you to push hard. And discover steering that actually provides physical messaging. And all in a cabin that you can actually enjoy sitting in.

Should I buy one?

Downsides? Not many, although we’ll need to see how the hybrid versions handle with their below-back-seat battery packs.

Indeed, the back seat itself could offer more room, and the boot is hardly yawning. But it’s not bad-looking in lightly sporty XSE trim.

Although the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf might just outpoint it for driver appeal, it’s a hell of a lot more engaging than most Corollas past, and every Auris, too.

Toyota Corolla specification

Where Pasadena, USA Price US$25,385 On sale March 2019 Engine 1987cc, 4-cylinder petrol Power 166bhp at 6600rpm Torque 155lb ft at 4800rpm Gearbox CVT automatic Kerb weight 1391kg Top speed not stated 0-62mph not stated Fuel economy not stated CO2 not stated Rivals Ford Focus, Honda Civic, VW Golf

Join the debate

Comments
13

18 December 2018

 Looks like a scaled up Yaris?, well, it might do well here too.

18 December 2018

It’s been a while since I bothered to read a Toyota review. Love the looks but feel the youthful appearance is at odds with the mature audience (cvt gearbox, low power engine). Let’s hope that they produce a hot version with 250+ bhp and a manual or Dsg box!

18 December 2018

It seems likely that people buy Toyota Hybrids because they are reliable, cheap to run, relaxing to drive and symbolise innovation and new tech in a way that other mainstream cars don’t.

Remember when the Prius launched and conservative motoring journalists laughed at it? Well they’re not laughing now that Toyota have sold 10 million hybrids. The journos were behind the times (yet again), as Toyota put two fingers up to traditional manufacturers and paved the way for Tesla.

So I suggest taking this review with a pinch of salt. The shallow stuff about interior plastics and the supposed drawbacks of the CVT gearbox are totally irrelevant in the hybrid scheme of things.

18 December 2018

..if you don't want or like the CVT/Hybrid combo then you're stuck with a mighty 1.2, woeful!

It's not a choice I'd liked to be faced with so it's a 4 out of 10, I predict low sales!

18 December 2018

Does that mean the Ford Focus should be a sales disaster, as most models are a ‘mighty’ 1.0. 

18 December 2018

They also sell plenty of petrol 1.5's, 1.5 and 2.0 diesels.  Then there's the new 2.3 coming out in a few months which gets me interested.

18 December 2018
xxxx wrote:

They also sell plenty of petrol 1.5's, 1.5 and 2.0 diesels.  Then there's the new 2.3 coming out in a few months which gets me interested.

Thrilling line up.

FMS

22 December 2018
xxxx wrote:

..if you don't want or like the CVT/Hybrid combo then you're stuck with a mighty 1.2, woeful!

It's not a choice I'd liked to be faced with so it's a 4 out of 10, I predict low sales!

 

Only woeful part is your highly dubious "contribution"...not a choice YOU'D like to be faced with...LMAO...you currently "drive" a decrepit sofa, never done a hands turn in your life and just as (un)likely to buy a car as stop these ludicrous posts. You predict low sales...seems you have missed the part where each prior gen car did better than very well indeed and no doubt will do so again...but hey, nice try...TwIT, the w is silent, as you should be.

18 December 2018

Looking at the interior pic I see the Americans get Apple Carplay but it is still not being offered here, unless you want an Aygo!

Why can't Toyota include this like pretty much every other car manufacturer does?

18 December 2018
Bakerboy3685 wrote:

Looking at the interior pic I see the Americans get Apple Carplay but it is still not being offered here, unless you want an Aygo!

Why can't Toyota include this like pretty much every other car manufacturer does?

It should have Android Auto as well - not everyone has locked down, overpriced Apple crap, in fact more people in the world use Android.

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week