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SAFETY In addition to standard safety features ( seven airbags, enhanced ABS brakes, stability and traction control) all Corolla models get the Toyota Safety System which includes autonomous emergency braking; emergency brake assist; pedestrian and cyclist detection; active cruise control; lane departure alert; and lane trace assist which, for the inattentive driver, provides steering assist when necessary to ensure the car stays in the lane.
There’s also automatic high/low beam, reversing camera, hill-start assist and Isofix child seat anchor points in the two outer rear seats. A first for any Toyota model in Australia is a windscreen-mounted camera that recognises speed-limit signs.
SX and ZR add a blind spot monitor and satellite navigation with ZR also getting a colour head-up display. INFOTAINMENT All models get a centrally-mounted 8-inch touchscreen operated either through large buttons or voice recognition. A new feature called Miracast allows smartphone screens to be duplicated onto the touchscreen.
Ascent Sport and SX get six-speaker audio, ZR steps up to an eight-speaker JBL premium system. Satellite navigation with SUNA live traffic is standard on SX and ZR.
At this stage neither Apple CarPlay nor Android Auto are available but can be expected with the next upgrade. DRIVING The more we drive SUVs the more we appreciate being able to enter cars without scraping our ageing heads on the top of the door opening so we found the low stance a bit annoying. Once settled in though the seats are comfortable and supportive.
The MY2018 Corolla comes from the new modular global architecture that’s gradually being used across many of the Toyota ranges. It increases body rigidity by 60 per cent, lower centre of gravity and multi-link rear suspension; this is finally a Corolla that can be really fun to drive. This is increasingly important for Toyota in its ongoing battle with Mazda3 and Hyundai i30.
The dominant feature of hybrid vehicles is fuel efficiency but the benefit of battery power is that it also provides extra low-rev torque for faster take-off. Alternatively, with some light pedal pressure, you can traverse your local supermarket carpark in silence, being on the alert for unobservant pedestrians.
There’s excellent vision all round and sharp acceleration for safe urban manoeuvring.
On the open road new Corolla feels like a car the next size up, which it effectively is. It cruised through the hilly motorway segment of our test route without any stress and with little of the hunting that can plague CVTs thanks to the inclusion of a torque converter. Steering is nicely weighted and responsive with safe and dependable cornering.
Although it’s far from being a performance car there is a sportier feel to the latest Corolla than in previous models.
During our period with the test car it clocked up fuel consumption of 4.5 litres per 100 kilometres on a mix of suburban and motorway driving, compared to the official figure of 4.1 under similar conditions. That official fuel consumption of 4.1 litres compares with 6.1 litres per 100 kilometres for automatic Corolla pure petrol hatches. SUMMING UP Corolla Hybrid offers excellent value with prices ranging from $25,870 to $31,870 or just $1500 above those of the equivalent petrol-only models.
For these prices you get a great looking small car with a large range of both safety and convenience features. And one that’s now fun to drive.
Toyota continues to buck the increasing warranty trend by sticking to the old standard of three years / 100,000 kilometres.
With buyers steadily abandoning large family cars Corolla Hybrid is an ideal alternative – small and economical enough for city commuting but large enough for long-distance family holiday travel.