Hy­brid a Corolla with a con­science

Pilbara News - - Motoring - The Corolla Hy­brid main­tains the look of the petrol-only mod­els. Derek Og­den

While other au­to­mo­bile man­u­fac­tur­ers take vary­ing roads to low emis­sions, Toy­ota is stead­fastly stick­ing to the petrol-elec­tric hy­brid route with its new ad­di­tion to the genre, the Corolla Hy­brid.

With of­fi­cial fuel con­sump­tion put at 4.1 litres per 100km on the com­bined ur­ban/high­way cy­cle, this is good enough to give the ve­hi­cle a range of al­most 1100km, de­pend­ing on driv­ing style.

The hy­brid ver­sion of the pop­u­lar Corolla ar­rives just months shy of the 50th an­niver­sary of the launch of the first model in Ja­pan.

With a com­pre­hen­sive list of equip­ment, some not of­fered on other Corol­las in Aus­tralia, the hy­brid is priced from $26,990, putting it be­tween the petrol-only SX and ZR hatches.

A chis­elled front end sees the ra­di­a­tor grille in two sec­tions, the up­per sec­tion dom­i­nated by the Toy­ota logo and flanked by au­tolev­el­ling bi-LED head­lamps and LED day­time run­ning lamps, the lower por­tion with fog lamps.

A steeply raked wind­screen en­sures the car slices through the air cleanly, which is then di­rected over a roof that slopes to a small spoiler. Rear lights wrap around the corners, giv­ing the Corolla a broad stance from be­hind.

The car rolls on 16-inch al­loy wheels with five sets of V-twin spokes. The car comes in any of the eight ex­te­rior paint colours.

The pas­sen­ger cabin ex­hibits the pre­mium ma­te­ri­als and qual­ity of a more ex­pen­sive ve­hi­cle, with dark up­hol­stery and soft-touch sur­faces all round.

Head­room is ad­e­quate, but rear seat legroom is tight, even with av­er­age-sized oc­cu­pants up front.

With the hy­brid bat­tery po­si­tioned un­der rear seat and tem­po­rary spare wheel un­der the floor, the lat­est Corolla re­tains the stan­dard hatch's 360 litres of lug­gage space. The rear seat backs fold flat for even more room.

A small 4.2-inch colour touch­screen is po­si­tioned just be­low air­con vents in the cen­tral dash­board, not quite at the driver’s eye level.

The Corolla's Hy­brid Syn­ergy Drive sys­tem uses an Atkin­son­cy­cle 1.8-litre four-cylin­der petrol engine and 60kW elec­tric mo­tor.

Ef­fi­ciency fea­tures for the petrol engine in­clude cooled ex­haust-gas re­cir­cu­la­tion, an elec­tric wa­ter pump and a com­pres­sion ra­tio of 13.0:1, com­pared with 10.0:1 on the petrol-only Corolla.

The nickel-metal hy­dride bat­tery, which puts out max­i­mum power of 60kW and top torque of 207Nm, is charged by the petrol engine and re­gen­er­a­tive brak­ing.

The first pleas­ant sur­prise about the Corolla Hy­brid test ve­hi­cle was the key­less en­try and petrol engine start.

Dur­ing our pe­riod with the test car, it clocked up fuel con­sump­tion of 4.6 litres per 100km on a mix of sub­ur­ban and mo­tor­way driv­ing.

Toy­ota's Hy­brid Syn­ergy Drive tech­nol­ogy is ca­pa­ble of op­er­at­ing in petrol and elec­tric modes alone, or a com­bi­na­tion of both, de­pend­ing on driv­ing con­di­tions.

Set­ting off un­der elec­tric power alone is pon­der­ous and needs the in­put of the petrol engine to push it along. An econome­ter in the in­stru­ment panel shows how the sys­tems are work­ing, with charge, econ­omy and power on the dial help­ing the driver to main­tain a de­sired re­sult.

The in­de­pen­dent rear sus­pen­sion de­liv­ers stable ride and han­dling. The con­tin­u­ously vari­able trans­mis­sions is op­er­ated via a neat mini-me shift lever on the cen­tre con­sole.

With 40,800 sales, the Corolla re­tained its ti­tle as Aus­tralia’s best-sell­ing car in the fi­nan­cial year ended June 30, mak­ing it the top seller in each of the past three cal­en­dar years. The Hy­brid can only add to the suc­cess.

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