New Toyota Corolla, Safe and Stylish

Toyota's Super Sedan With Enhanced Driving Dynamics

Wynter Murdoch

Toyota’s recently launched super sedan is characterised by:

  • Sharper design language;
  • Enhanced driving dynamics;
  • Improved ride comfort;
  • High levels of safety and convenience;
  • State-of-the-art touchscreen technology.

Toyota’s new Corolla sedan has made its debut in South Africa. Boasting enhanced driving dynamics and improved ride comfort, the model is equipped with a new powertrain, sharper design language, and an array of driver assistance safety programmes. Other attributes include a state-of-the-art multimedia system that offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.


The range comprises three derivatives – the top-of-the-line XR, which is powered by a new 2,0-litre petrol-fuelled engine coupled with a choice of six-speed manual gearbox or 10-speed Shiftmatic, Toyota’s version of continuously variable transmission (CVT); and the mid-range XS, which is equipped with a 1,8-litre plant exclusively mated to a seven-speed Shiftmatic gearbox.


The 2,0-litre engine delivers 125kW and 200Nm, increases of 22kW and 27Nm compared with the outputs of the superseded motor but, according to a Toyota spokesman, the unit consumes less fuel, returning combined cycle figures of 6,0 litres per 100km for the CVT version and 6,5 litres per 100km for the manual variant. The 1,8-litre unit, which is carried over from the previous model, produces 103kW and 171Nm, with fuel consumption rated at 6,2 litres per 100 km.


The spokesman says Toyota has substantially improved comfort, convenience and safety features on each of the variants with a view to delivering a premium quality, refined, compact sedan. “A major contributor to enhanced ride and handling is new double-wishbone, rear suspension, which is now standard across the Corolla sedan range,” he says.


The top model’s standard features include a keyless smart entry system; leather-like upholstery; Bi-LED headlights with auto high beam; two-tone, 18-inch alloy wheels; an electro-chromatic rear-view mirror and paddle shifters on the steering wheel for the CVT version. Toyota’s safety system – which includes pre-crash activation, a blind spot monitor, adaptive cruise control and lane departure alert – is also part of the standard package.


Equally, the 1,8 XS features LED headlights; push-button start; cruise control; auto climate control; a reverse camera; a multi-information display; as well as steering wheel mounted switchgear with voice command for the infotainment unit. Safety features include seven airbags – including a driver’s knee bag – as well as hill assist control and vehicle stability control. The vehicle rides on 16-inch alloy wheels.


The spokesman says Corolla is becoming a brand in its own right with three distinct model ranges to cater to consumer taste. “Quest is the value-for-money offering with a heavy bias towards practicality and versatility; Corolla Hatch is all about image and performance; while the new-generation sedan rounds off the trinity with design and technology as its calling cards.”


As the world’s best-selling automotive nameplate, the Corolla – initially launched in 1966 – has earned respect for its reliability, economy, durability and comfort. Now in its 12th-generation, the latest model is perceived to combine the tried-and-tested qualities of its predecessors with a modern look that underscores its consumer appeal.


The sedan’s design adopts front-end architecture that is similar to that introduced by the sporty Corolla hatch, the look dominated by arrow-shaped, sculpted headlights, a prominent lower apron and a large, black-meshed, trapezoidal lower grille. Stylish daylight running lamps have been incorporated in the headlight housings, helping to make the car distinctive and easily identifiable on the road.


Chief engineer, Yasushi Ueda, says that since the Corolla carries a heritage that dates back more than 50 years, development of the model focused on elements that could be added without compromising inherent virtues.


“As the new Corolla shares its platform with the latest Prius and C-HR, we already knew we had a good basis for driving dynamics thanks to a low driving position and low centre of gravity,” he says. “Nevertheless, we were able to improve the dynamic performance even further.


“For example, steering response has been developed to provide a better feel and the rear suspension features new shock absorbers with new friction technology to provide a better balance between ride and handling. We’ve also ensured better all-round visibility for the driver by introducing thinner A-pillars and a lower dashboard and bonnet.”


Ueda says one of the merits of the new platform – dubbed TNGA for Toyota New Global Architecture – was that it allowed designers more freedom to create the vehicle’s dynamic-looking exterior.


He adds that all variants in the Corolla family are now visually distinctive, featuring lowered stances and more appealing proportions. Dimensionally, the sedan is 20mm closer to the ground than its predecessor was, with the bonnet edge dropped by 35mm and the front overhang shortened by 25mm.


According to Ueda, design features such as the car’s short, swept back roofline and sloping C-pillar help to convey a sense of motion even when the car is standing still, while the short overhang at the rear adds to dynamic presence.


Taillights feature LEDs housed in a bi-colour design, the shape of the wrap-around housings helping to emphasise the vehicle’s width – a feature accentuated by a black trapezoidal insert on the bumper that, incidentally, features integrated aero-stabilising fins.


Inside, the sedan adopts styling features that echo those of its hatchback sibling, the layout simple but elegant with reduced upper-panel height, soft-touch finishes and brushed metal accent strips.


Restyled bucket seats at the front are upholstered in a ribbed, synthesized, leather-like fabric called Rezatec, which helps to lend the cabin a premium feel. The high-grade, XR models offer a choice of sporty blue or classic grey accent trim colours, while the lesser XS version features blue contrast stitching to match the blue illumination for switchgear and instrument panel.


On the technology and convenience fronts, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are incorporated in the Corolla’s touchscreen interface, the XS model equipped with an-easy-to-navigate, 4,2-inch multi-information display and XR variants employing a seven-inch equivalent – with a digital speedometer added to the instrument binnacle.


With a view to reducing weight and improving fuel efficiency, aluminium and high-tensile steel have been used extensively in the car’s construction. Body rigidity has increased by about 60 percent over that of the superseded model, the benefits felt in terms of handling responses and high-speed stability.


The ride is comfortable, the cabin well-insulated at against noise, vibration and harshness with the MacPherson strut-based front suspension system and the multi-link rear set-up combining well to soak up imperfections in the road’s surface.


According to Toyota’s spokesman, front suspension geometry has been tweaked for South African conditions, with newly developed shock absorbers and coil spring characteristics optimised for a linear steering response during mid- to high-speed cornering, and additional geometry changes applied to the suspension arm and bush structures to minimise the effects of shock forces. Similarly, rear suspension performs admirably, helping to maintain high levels of stability without sacrificing comfort.


To my mind the new Corolla represents an attractive consumer proposition in terms of the styling, safety, comfort, economy and value it offers. In all, it’s a model that is sure to enhance its reputation as one of the world’s motoring icons.



  • 1,8 XS CVT: R380 200
  • 2,0 XR 6MT: R420 500
  • 2,0 XR CVT: R433 700

All models are sold with a six-service/90 000km service plan and a three-year /100 000km warranty. Services are carried out at 15 000km/12-month intervals.