Toy­ota ups the ante

NT News - Motoring - - NEWS - By NEIL McDON­ALD

THE world’s most pop­u­lar car is feel­ing the heat lo­cally. So Toy­ota Aus­tralia has sharp­ened pric­ing for its Corolla sedan as part of a re­fresh that in­cludes more gear and the in­tro­duc­tion of a new 2.0-litre en­gine in the range-top­ping Ul­tima.

The com­pany’s se­nior ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor sales and mar­ket­ing David But­tner does not un­der-es­ti­mate the strength of Corolla’s ri­vals.

With the Mazda3 presently ahead of the Corolla in the small-car sales stakes by more than 1200 cars this year, Toy­ota is aim­ing to claw back its small­car crown.

In the small-car seg­ment Corolla sales are 10.6 per cent up year to date but are still be­ing out­paced by the Mazda3, which is up 12 per cent.

Nor does But­tner write off the Holden Cruze or Hyundai i30, which is avail­able with both petrol and diesel en­gines.

‘‘We don’t un­der-es­ti­mate our com­pe­ti­tion,’’ But­tner says.

‘‘How­ever, with the im­prove­ments and spec up­grades the Corolla is still great value for money.

‘‘But I don’t like be­ing No 2 in the seg­ment.’’

De­spite re­cent falls in the Aus­tralian dol­lar, the prices of five sedan mod­els have dropped by be­tween $260 and $400.

The sedan makes up 40 per cent of to­tal Corolla sales.

The starter price for the As­cent sedan has been lopped by $400, to $20,990.

The range-top­ping Ul­tima sedan has risen $800, to $31,490, but it gains the big­ger 102kW/189Nm 2.0-litre en­gine and more gear that in­cludes Xenon head­lights, a re­vers­ing cam­era and rear spoiler.

Apart from be­ing more pow­er­ful it delivers 8 per cent more torque than the 1.8.

But­tner is happy with the Corolla 1. Mazda3 .. .. 2. Toy­ota Corolla .. 3. Hyundai i30 .. 4. Holden Cruze .. 5. Mit­subishi Lancer .. .. .. .. .. 16,155 14,933 13,588 11,416 10,129 range and hoses down any sug­ges­tions that a diesel could spice the range up.

Rather than a diesel, he said, he would love a hy­brid in the Corolla lineup but was re­luc­tant to put a time­frame on it.

‘‘There are a few things on the hori­zon,’’ But­tner says.

‘‘But we are com­fort­able where we are.

‘‘The 2.0-litre is a new en­gine for Corolla and it is a good thing.’’

All sedans have elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol, while Con­quest and Ul­tima mod­els get seven airbags.

WORLD­WIDE, more peo­ple bought a Corolla last year than any other car.

The global gi­ant sold 908,661 Corol­las to con­tinue its reign as the world’s most pop­u­lar car.

This was 127,500 sales, or 16.3 per cent more than its near­est ri­val.

FIGHT­ING BACK: There is a new 2.0-litre en­gine in the range-top­ping Ul­tima

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