Cheap thrills

Herald Sun - Motoring - - IN THE GARAGE -

THERE was lit­tle fan­fare when Toy­ota added a hy­brid model to its best-sell­ing Corolla range ear­lier this year but there should have been. It’s the most con­vinc­ing hy­brid we’ve driven.

In the few weeks it’s spent in the Carsguide garage it’s been a model of quiet ef­fi­ciency.

The elec­tric mo­tor cuts in and out un­ob­tru­sively at lights, sav­ing fuel be­fore pro­vid­ing an ex­tra surge of torque to get the Corolla off the mark swiftly.

In bumper-to-bumper com­mut­ing, it’s rel­a­tively easy to use less than 5.0L/100km — roughly half what you’d use in the petrol ver­sion. And that’s be­fore the hy­brid bug bites.

It wasn’t long be­fore we were turn­ing off the air­con, wind­ing down the win­dows and coast­ing up to the lights if we saw them turn red, look­ing to save ev­ery last drop of fuel.

The Corolla is that type of car — ev­ery­thing en­cour­ages you to go easy on the ac­cel­er­a­tor. There’s no tacho, only a gauge that tells you whether you’re recharg­ing the bat­tery or driv­ing in Eco or Power mode.

Be­fore long, you be­gin to re­alise that you’ve been us­ing the ac­cel­er­a­tor more than nec­es­sary in city traf­fic, need­lessly rac­ing be­tween sets of red traf­fic lights. Fight­ing that urge is hard, es­pe­cially when other cars dart into your lane the sec­ond you show a mo­ment’s tar­di­ness.

But fight it we did, to be re­warded with a per­sonal (no air­con) best of 3.5L/100km, scooter-like fuel con­sump­tion, yet with a roof over your head.

And the ac­cel­er­a­tor isn’t the only thing to get a rest — slip the gear se­lec­tor into “B” mode for more ag­gres­sive en­gine brak­ing and you don’t have to be so heavy on the brake.

It’s not all good news, though. The cen­tre touch­screen is fid­dly to use on the move and you can’t pair a phone un­less the car is stopped.

The Corolla also beeps loudly, like a truck, when you’re re­vers­ing. It’s not to warn pedes­tri­ans — you can’t hear it out­side. It’s not like re­vers­ing sen­sors that beep more quickly the closer you get to a wall or post. It’s just plain an­noy­ing.

Apart from that, though, our stint in the Corolla has been fun in a geeky sort of way.

WITH RICHARD BLACKBURN AND JOSHUA DOWLING

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