Toyota Corolla Auris replacement is hybrid only
Auris replacement gets a new (old) name, fresh underpinnings and a 2.0-litre hybrid On sale February Price from £25,000 (est)
OUT WITH THE old and in with the older: 13 years after the Toyota Auris name replaced that of the Toyota Corolla, we’re back to where it all began. The reasoning is that this all-new, ground-up reworking of the family hatchback makes it worthy of a fresh start, and using a name that was launched back in 1966 (and which makes the Corolla the best-selling car ever) was suitably worthy.
Certainly, Toyota’s bigwigs are excited. It has been benchmarked against the very best cars in the class, such as the What Car? award-winning Skoda Octavia, as well as the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf.
Key to this is the development of new underpinnings called the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA), around which the Corolla and many other Toyotas are built. Creating it has already reaped dividends on cars such as the C-HR family SUV and the latest Prius hybrid, both of which are much better to drive than many previous Toyotas.
Significant, too, is the introduction of a new hybrid drive system with a 2.0-litre petrol engine mated to an electric motor. The Corolla will be sold only as a hybrid in the UK; the other option is the familiar 121bhp 1.8-litre hybrid sold in other Toyotas such as the Prius.
While the 1.8 hybrid is resolutely aimed at eco motoring, the 2.0-litre set-up adds livelier performance to the mix. As a guide, its 0-62mph time is 7.9sec, making it a pacey rival for the likes of the Golf 1.5 TSI or 2.0 TDI.
The evidence of the late prototype we’ve driven here is very positive. The car grips the road well and tells the driver exactly what its front wheels are doing, so you always feel in control. On larger-thannecessary 18in wheels, it also rides bumps reasonably well, albeit with some fidgeting that is most likely a side-effect of setting the suspension up to provide some fun. Dynamically, the Corolla errs slightly more towards entertainment than comfort, but on mostly smooth roads, at least, it’s able to deliver both.
The new engine is also a qualified success. Linked to a CVT automatic gearbox with six artificial steps to make it feel more like a regular auto, it matches accelerator position, speed and revs better than ever before. Performance is brisk and responsive, and progress is near-silent below 2000rpm. The gearbox is slick enough that there’s little to be gained from intervening manually via the wheel-mounted shift paddles.
Inside, the Corolla takes a giant leap forward compared with the Auris and largely meets
the standard of the class best in terms of functionality and the quality of the materials. There are plenty of soft-touch surfaces, well-damped switches and a central 8.0in infotainment touchscreen that’s both crisp looking and reasonably intuitive to use. Indications are that the Corolla will come with an above-average amount of standard kit, especially to do with safety.
There’s loads of space up front, aided by a wide range of seat and steering wheel adjustment, but rear knee and head room are tight. Boot space is on a par with that of rivals, apart from the cavernous Octavia.
What’s clear at this stage is that the new Corolla is mostly a very good all-rounder and, thanks to its hybrid power and dynamic leaning, different from many rivals. For the first time in ages, Toyota’s family hatch could well be more than an also-ran.
Production-spec Corolla was revealed earlier this year Attractive interior features an 8.0in infotainment screen Suspension is tuned to provide some fun, and it succeeds