2020 Toyota Corolla Review
Family favourite goes upmarket
As with many South Africans, I have many firm memories of Corollas. Driving to Varsity the day after getting my driver’s licence, behind the wheel of my sister’s Corolla, and for the first time being in a car all alone. Or driving to Joburg to watch U2 in concert, in the same Corolla with four friends. It was almost 20 years later that that particular car was retired… Or cruising the streets of Pietermaritzburg in my friend’s 1960’s Corolla, tasting freedom for the first time.
These days, whenever I get into a rental car (which I try to make sure is a Corolla) or an Uber, I am amazed at how far Corollas have come, and how well they stand up to the harsh treatment of fleet life.
Which makes the latest Corolla, now the 12th generation, even more incredible, because it has taken another quantum leap forward in terms of technology, styling and comfort.
The appearance of the new Corolla is something we have all been waiting for, because it now mirrors that of the Corolla Hatch, a car that you are as likely to buy for its looks as its reputation for reliability and resale value. It’s the lights, front and rear, that really make a statement – this is no boring family car, it is a car to desire and enjoy, a car to aspire to.
With 125kW and 200Nm, the new 2-litre engine used in the flagship XR models (either 6-speed manual or 10-speed CVT) is both more powerful and more fuel efficient than its predecessor, using just 6.0L/100km and 6.5L/100km for the CVT and manual versions respectively.
Then there’s the 1.8-litre XS model, available with a CVT gearbox. With peak power of 104kW and 171Nm it is still a brisk performer, and it uses a very credible 6.2-litres of petrol every 100km.
When you drive the 2020 Corolla you’re immediately made aware that this is an extremely good chassis. Based on the latest TNGA platform, it offers sharp handling and superb ride comfort- not an easy combination to nail.
Push-button start, LED headlights, cruise control and automatic climate control are all standard on the ‘entry-level’ XS model, which is actually far from having entry-level specification levels. Then there is the high-tech audio system, complete with reverse camera, steering-wheel controls, voice command and Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto™ functionality. Safety equipment is also comprehensive, with seven airbags (including a driver’s knee-bag), an electronic parking brake, Hill Assist Control (HAC) and Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) as standard.
Obviously the XR models are even more comprehensively equipped all round, with things like smart entry and leather upholstery, but the most notable inclusion is of the Toyota Safety Sense Package which includes Pre-Crash activation, Blind Spot Monitor, Adaptive All-Speed Cruise Control and Lane Departure Alert.
While the 2020 Toyota Corolla retains all the attributes of a great family sedan, they are complemented by levels of performance and, more obvious, luxury that have moved it into a whole new market segment.
The twelfth-generation Corolla is priced as follows: the Corolla 1.8 XS CVT is R372 700, the Corolla 2.0 XR manual is R412 300 and the flagship Corolla 2.0 XR CVT is R425 200. All models come standard with a 3-year/100 000km warranty and a 6-services/90 000 km service plan.
Jam-packed with technology
Modern, sporty styling
Great ride quality and handling