In the most bizarre of circumstances and mere hours before the country goes into an unprecedented lockdown status, the 12th generation Toyota Corolla has been formally launched – on paper – to dealers and the public.
Where, normally, a launch such as this would involve media, fleet and dealer activations, the newest Corolla slips gently into the market, the first rush of sales to #toyotaholics curbed by the fact dealerships will close down for 21 days along with the rest of the country.
Coronavirus is real! Perhaps fortuitous Toyota dropped the Corona nameplate from its repertoire in 2001.
In base form, as the 1.8 XS CVT, the new Corolla prices in at R372 700 with the top specification 2.0 XR CVT at R425 200 – putting it among the likes of the VW Polo Sedan 1.6 Comfortline (R264 700), the Hyundai Elantra 1.6 Exectuve (339 900) and BMW 1-Serries 118i at R486 898.
The new Corolla sedan adopts the same front-end treatment as the Corolla Hatch (with minor variation) and featuring a prominent lower apron, sculpted headlights and flowing three-box design.
The front bumper employs a large trapezoidal lower grille, with black-moulded border and large mesh pattern. The arrow-shaped LED headlamps, with integrated DRL elements, flow towards the centrally-mounted Toyota emblem, surrounded by a slim-line upper grille element.
According to Ueda-san, Corolla Chief Engineer: “One of the big merits of the new platform is it allows designers more freedom to create a dynamic exterior.”
He adds all variants in the Corolla family are now visually distinctive and feature an individual look with a lower stance and more appealing proportions.
“We have also ensured better all-around visibility for the driver by implementing thinner A-pillars and a lowered dashboard and bonnet.”
The rear bumper also features integrated aero-stabilising fins, to smooth airflow from the wheel arches.
Dimensionally the new Corolla is 20 mm lower, with the bonnet edge sitting 35 mm lower and the front overhang registering 25 mm shorter while front and rear tread have been increased by 11 mm and 22 mm respectively.
Eight exterior colours are on offer, six of them being new with Celestite Grey, Crimson Red, Moonlight Ocean, Scarlet and Dark Blue the metallics. Pearl White, Glacier White and Satin Silver remain the neutral tones on offer.
Inside, it is the same interior design as its hatch sibling, featuring a reduced upper-panel height, soft-touch finishes and brushed metal accent strips. In sedan execution, blue contrast stitching harmonises with blue illumination for the switchgear and instrument panel.
A revised front seat design with ribbed pattern and bucket-like profile is covered in a new-age synthesized fabric called Rezatec, offering the comfort of fabric with the premium feel of leather. The high-grade (XR) model offers a choice of sporty blue or classic grey accent trim colours.
Aluminium, high-tensile strength steel and hot-stamped materials have been extensively used and the panel thickness of the doors and roof panel reduced. This has resulted in a considerable weight reduction for the body, helping to improve overall fuel efficiency.
At the same time, the addition of adhesives throughout the new bodyshell, an increase in the use of spot welding, and the use of fully closed cross-sections and structural rings, combine to increase body rigidity by some 60% over the outgoing models, promoting a marked increase in handling agility, responsiveness to steering inputs and high-speed stability.
Handling and agility are further improved by the lower mounting height of the engine and lower hip point of the seats. In combination, these measures have lowered the new Corolla’s centre of gravity by some 10 mm.
The new Corolla range utilises a MacPherson strut front suspension system, an all-new multi-link rear suspension arrangement and new shock absorber valve technology. The front suspension geometry has been revised, with newly developed shock absorbers and coil spring characteristics.
Additional geometry changes have been applied to the suspension arm and bush structures, in order to achieve quicker shock absorber response and minimise the transmission of shock forces from rough surfaces and achieve high-quality ride comfort. The newly developed multi-link rear suspension features compact packaging and exclusively-designed coil springs, which offer both handling stability and ride comfort.
The GA-C platform itself contributes to the suppression of transmission vibration. The steering wheel pad functions as a dynamic damper to suppress steering vibration and even the tool box functions as a dynamic damper to reduce rear floor panel vibration.
Two engines options are offered in the new Corolla. The 1,8-litre mill is carried over from the previous generation, delivering 10 3kW and 171 Nm. This unit is mated to a ‘7-speed’ Shiftmatic CVT transmission with 7 pre-programmed steps.
Next up is the new 2,0-litre ‘Dynamic Force’ TNGA engine (as first seen on RAV4) which ups the ante to 125 kW and 200 Nm – with a strong focus on fuel efficiency. Two options exist here, a 6-speed manual or ‘10-speed’ Shiftmatic CVT.
Fuel consumption for the 1,8-litre is listed as 6,2 l/100 km, the 2,0-litre manual at 6,.5 l/100 km and finally the 2,0-litre CVT at 6,0 l/100 km.
Two grade options are offered, XS and XR. The XR model serves as the flagship and is available exclusively with the new 2,0-litre Dynamic Force engine.
The new Corolla sedan sees the inclusion of Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and touchscreen interface. Climate control with Eco mode, a reverse camera, power seat adjustment, one-touch functionality for the power windows, keyless entry, tilt and telescopic steering adjustment, steering switches and cruise control all feature on the specification list. XR models feature an auto-dimming rear view mirror.
Two levels of Multi-information Display (MID) systems are utilised. The XS grade uses a 4,2-inch display with the XR variants getting a 7-inch MID system with digital speedometer.
On the safety front, all models feature seven crash bags, ISOFIX, active electronic safety aids (anti-lock braking, EBD, BAS, VSC, HAC) and an impact absorbing bodyshell. The flagship XR grade receives Toyota Safety Sense (TSS) – a full complement of active driver aids. The XR also receives an upgrade to Bi-LED headlamps.
This suite combines Pre-collision system, blind spot monitor, all-speed cruise control, automatic high-beam and Lane Trace Assist – conveniently operated via steering switches or the multi-information display.
All Corolla models include a 6-service/90 000 km service plan with service intervals pegged at 15 000 km/12-months. A 3 year/100 000 km warranty is also included.
Model Line-up and Pricing
Corolla 1.8 XS CVT – R 372 700
Corolla 2.0 XR 6MT – R 412 300
Corolla 2.0 XR CVT – R 425 200