We tested the world's best selling car on Irish roads
Pros: Pleasant drive, fuel efficient, sporty exterior
Cons: Infotainment system, boot space
Last year Toyota replaced its Auris model with an all-new version of the iconic Toyota Corolla, equipping it with a cutting-edge, self-charging hybrid engine and an impressive new look. To say this has been a success for the brand would be an understatement, as the Corolla now sits well above the rest as Ireland and the world’s best-selling car in 2019. We drove the all-new Toyota Corolla Hatchback Hybrid to see what all the hype is about.
The first thing you notice about the new Corolla hatchback is its sporty exterior. The bi-tone paint on our test car is especially striking and gives the car a bold profile. At the front and rear of the Corolla the body shape emphasises the wide stance of the vehicle. Enhancing this even further are two all-LED lamps which stylishly flank either side of the front and rear providing powerful visibility on the road. The Luna sport model we tested comes with impressive 17-inch black machined-face 10-spoke alloy wheels that really polish off the overall sportiness of the car.
On the inside, the sporty, sleek feel continues with an all-black look and uncluttered design. At night blue ambient lighting provides a cool, stylish feel throughout the cabin. In the drivers seat a multi-functional steering wheel allows you to control functions in the vehicle via switches and even voice command.
An 8-inch Toyota touch screen comes standard in the Luna model and up. Its located conveniently in the middle of the dash and easy to reach for the driver. Although it is easy to access, the Toyota multimedia system itself isn’t easy to use with numerous buttons either side of the screen and a complicated system layout.
Corolla Space & Practicality
The cabin itself seems quite spacious with plenty of head and legroom. Although it is a small car it feels like there is loads of space between you and your passenger and dials and the centre console are laid out practically. Storage however is limited with very small pockets in the doors and a tray under the arm rest.
In the rear as you would expect from a hatchback of its size, there is not much legroom at all. Space is particularly tighter for the middle passenger even if they are children.
Boot space in the Corolla Hatchback differs depending on the hybrid engine you choose. The 1.8-litre we tested offers 361-litres, whilst the 2.0-litre hybrid engine drops the boot size to 313-litres.
There are two hybrid engine choices for the Corolla Hatch. The 1.8-litre hybrid we drove has a modest 122bhp and achieves 0 – 100km/h in 10.9 seconds. Whilst it may not be as quick off the mark as some of its competitors, the acceleration is smooth and silent and feels punchy when merging onto roads.
The other option is the 2.0-litre hybrid engine which offers a much punchier 178bhp with a 0-100km/h in 7.9 seconds. This doesn’t exactly make the Corolla a ‘Hot Hatch’ but If you’re looking for something with a bit more power this is a better option.
The Corolla offers a comfortable ride with its soft suspension, noise dampening materials and silent hybrid engine that make the cabin a peaceful environment with hardly any road noise.
The Corolla handles well with responsive steering and decent control at reasonably average speeds. If you push a bit harder with your cornering though it starts to struggle, which puts it slightly behind other options like the Golf and Focus.
Corolla Performance & Efficiency
Because this is a ‘self-charging’ hybrid its batteries draw power from the engine and regenerative braking rather than being plugged in to charge. The regenerative breaking in the Corolla isn’t as noticeable or aggressive as it is in other hybrid or electric vehicles we have driven. When your foot is off the peddle the car comes to a halt slowly without much jerking or harshness.
Fuel economy in our test car (1.8-litre Luna Sport) was 4.9L /100km. This figure can fluctuate depending on the type of journey you are taking but is extremely fuel efficient non the less. The Corolla is also capable of switching to ‘EV mode’ but only over short distances at low speeds.
As with all their models Toyota pride themselves on safety, which is no surprise why Toyota Safety Sense comes as standard in all Corolla models. This innovative package includes a range of intelligent driver aids including a rear-view camera, a pre-collision system, cruise control and more.
The Corolla is the worlds best-selling car for a reason. Unlike the Prius, its striking looks and sportiness seem far removed from the Toyota hybrid look we were used to but is still equipped with the same ground-breaking hybrid technology. The hatchback model is slightly short on space, but the good news is there are Saloon and Touring model’s available to the range also.
Toyota Corolla Rivals: Mazda 3, Ford Focus, Volkswagen Golf, Honda Civic, Audi A3
Car Tested: Toyota Corolla Hatchback Hybrid
Starting Price: €27,340
Price of Test Car (Luna Sport): €29,835
Motor Tax: €180 per annum
Engine: 1.8 Hybrid Petrol
CO2 Emissions: 111 g/km
Boot space: 361-litres