TOYOTA COROLLA HYBRID
The Hybrid comes in ZR spec and is well equipped for the money. It’s the only Corolla with double-wishbone rear suspension for improved ride and handling. There are Eco drive mode, dual-zone aircon, satnav and keyless entry with push-button start but no leather. Warranty is three years/100,000km. Three years’ capped servicing costs $840 for six services at 10,000km intervals.
Chrome body trim and LED headlights add a premium look. The roomy and space-efficient cabin has high-grade steering wheel and decent size centre info screen with apps. Three drive modes provide Power, Economy and EV-only driving for short periods. Satnav, developed here, is among the best.
Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive — essentially a 1.8-litre petrol engine, electric boost motor and a battery pack under the rear seat — is good for 103kW/207Nm combined. It has fuel comsumption edge at 4.1L/100km combined. Range from the 45L tank is a claimed 1100km. Front-drive is through a constantly variable transmission, which isn’t as user-friendly as the i30’s dual-clutch set-up.
Despite its lack of advanced driver assistance technology, the Corolla still scores a five-star crash rating. Reverse camera is handy, as are the auto-levelling headlights. Spare is a space-saver.
The Corolla is sluggish in Econ but better to drive in Sports mode — even then, it’s hesitant off the mark. The CVT slurs away, which can be annoying but seems to have no adverse effect on performance or fuel efficiency. The car handles with competence although it’s no sporty drive. The new rear suspension enhances the (locally calibrated) dynamics and suits normal driving. No towing, though.