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)

What Car? - - Contents - Jim Holder [email protected]­mar­ket.com

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

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