FU­TUR­IS­TIC BUT IT’S NO SPACE ROCKET

As Corolla styling en­ters a new di­men­sion, the clever Hy­brid makes se­date progress

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Front Page - IAIN CURRY & JULES LUCHT

The just-re­leased new gen­er­a­tion of the Toy­ota Corolla, the world’s best­selling car, in­cludes Hy­brid vari­ants for a mere $1500 pre­mium. Toy­ota ex­pects the Hy­brid to ac­count for 20 per cent of Corolla sales, truly nor­mal­is­ing the tech­nol­ogy. With star­tling styling and im­pres­sive fuel econ­omy, will our fam­ily of four em­brace hy­brid life?

FIRST IM­PRES­SIONS

IAIN: Guar­an­tees in life are death, taxes and no school­boy will ever have a Toy­ota Corolla Hy­brid poster on his bed­room wall.

JULES: No man ever tempted a girl on a dirty week­end away by say­ing, “We’ll take the Corolla Hy­brid.”

IAIN: OK, point made. This is a car at­tract­ing the eco-con­scious rather than rebels, play­boys and he­do­nists.

JULES: At least the de­sign isn’t bor­ing. These new Corol­las are truly fu­tur­is­tic and this isn’t scream­ing green cre­den­tials with dorky “I’m a hy­brid” styling like Toy­ota’s Prius.

IAIN: The all-new Corolla range is mak­ing good on Toy­ota’s prom­ise of emo­tional styling. It’s not a clean de­sign but is cer­tainly dif­fer­ent. I won­der what the older Corolla buyer will think?

JULES: Older peo­ple buy SUVs and sports cars aimed at the young. They’re the ones who have the money.

IAIN: Well, these new Corol­las aren’t cheap by small car class stan­dards. This Hy­brid at $25,870 looks good value for the tech­nol­ogy, and is only $1500 more than the equiv­a­lent petrol ver­sion.

JULES: It’s not tech to be scared of. No plug­ging in needed, the bat­ter­ies are charged dur­ing de­cel­er­a­tion and brak­ing.

IAIN: If I were Corolla shop­ping, I’d pay the ex­tra money to go hy­brid.

THE LIV­ING SPACE

JULES: The dash­board de­sign is edgy and that’s a fine big in­fo­tain­ment screen.

IAIN: Sadly no Ap­ple CarPlay, An­droid Auto or built-in sat­nav.

JULES: Again, it’s not shout­ing it’s a hy­brid in here. I like the start but­ton and the soft plas­tic on the dash and door tops.

IAIN: The door cards are still big slabs of plas­tic but the dash but­tons have a nice metal feel to them.

JULES: Seats are re­ally com­fort­able but as a pas­sen­ger the funky curved dash re­ally restricts your leg po­si­tion.

IAIN: At en­try level, the in­clu­sions are good. Dual zone cli­mate con­trol, auto head­lights, 4.2-inch driver dis­play and elec­tric park brake. Only one USB port — that’s stingy these days.

THE COM­MUTE

JULES: I press the start but­ton but no noise. I like how it just pulls away silently on elec­tric power only. Great for creep­ing up on peo­ple.

IAIN: It uses bat­tery only up to about 35km/h, then wakes the petrol en­gine for nor­mal driv­ing.

JULES: It feels quite quick with the in­stant elec­tric torque shove.

IAIN: Re­ally? I find it slug­gish. Cer­tainly if I sud­denly ask for power it has a long old think about it. Then again, the con­stantly vari­able trans­mis­sion works well — bet­ter than most ri­vals I’ve tested — and once cruis­ing it all feels very nor­mal. You for­get you’re in a hy­brid.

JULES: Ex­actly. On the high­way or in traf­fic, turn on the radar cruise con­trol and the Corolla Hy­brid seems at its most rel­e­vant. Re­ally easy to drive, well in­su­lated and comfy.

THE SHOP­PING

IAIN: Mung beans and kale for din­ner? Good, be­cause not much else is go­ing to fit in that tiny boot. JULES: It is ridicu­lous. There’s prac­ti­cally no depth to it. IAIN: And there’s still just a space-saver spare un­der­neath.

JULES: The re­vers­ing cam­era is good qual­ity but there are no park­ing sen­sors.

SUN­DAY RUN

IAIN: The en­gine and gear­box may not bring much joy but the steer­ing and han­dling are re­ally well sorted.

JULES: I’ll take your word for it. My plea­sure was in the elec­tric-only serene waft­ing.

IAIN: There’s a drive mode called “Power”. You se­lect it, and hey presto, no dif­fer­ence. Ex­cept a bit more noise.

JULES: No­body buy­ing this car will care. They want com­fort, lack of fuss and econ­omy. We re­turned 4.2L/100km, just like Toy­ota quotes, and that’s bril­liant.

IAIN: My petrol-only VW Golf does 5.2L/100km, is far more en­joy­able to drive and has loads more cabin space.

THE FAM­ILY

JULES: It is cramped in the rear seats; a lot less space than our Golf. Adults re­ally strug­gle to fit in and, in their child seats, the kids’ legs were right on the front seats.

IAIN: It’s fine for the two up front but space-wise ev­ery­where else there are bet­ter hatch choices for fam­i­lies.

JULES: Re­ally good safety kit though, in­clud­ing seven airbags.

IAIN: I turned off the lane keep as­sist. It didn’t work re­li­ably and was for­ever beep­ing at me.

JULES: Jimmy (son, age six) loved watch­ing the screen in­fo­graphic show­ing when the bat­tery was charg­ing, and when we were driv­ing with bat­tery or petrol.

IAIN: He made me drive at 30km/h along our road so as not to “waste petrol”. He’s ready for our elec­tric car fu­ture.

JULES: The lit­tle eco war­rior.

THE VER­DICT

IAIN: If you’re buy­ing a Corolla, spend the ex­tra $1500 and go Hy­brid. It’s clever tech, the econ­omy is su­perb and it works in the back­ground so you for­get you’re in a hy­brid. That said, I’d choose other hatches ahead of the Corolla. I want more fun from the drive and the cabin space is too limited.

JULES: If the bulk of your jour­neys are stuck in traf­fic or on the high­way, the fuel sav­ing and ease of use with radar cruise con­trol means the Corolla Hy­brid makes lots of sense. As a mum of two though, it’s just not prac­ti­cal enough for fam­ily life.

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