For over half a century the name ‘Corolla’ has defined reliability and practicality, epitomising what it means to be a family car. For most of those 50-odd years the Corolla has been available only as a sedan, with the occasional stationwagon derivative adding to the range’s appeal. Now Toyota has taken that Corolla name and elevated it to new levels of style and desirability, replacing the Auris nameplate (which itself replaced the RunX name, which took over the Conquest badge) in a move that will significantly boost the brands appeal to a younger market.
Based on Toyota’s New Global Architecture, the Corolla Hatch actually arrives before the new-generation Corolla sedan, which will arrive later in the year, so this is the first glimpse the SA buying public is getting at the sharp new styling of the Corolla. Hatchet-shaped headlight clusters and a large airdam make for a far more aggressive and exciting front end than we’re used to from the Corolla, and if this is the way that Toyota is going to head with their volume sellers then that is great news. Likewise, the rear is beautifully designed, again making use of LED lights to accentuate the curves.
Three models make up the range: 1.2 T XS manual, 1.2T XR manual, and 1.2T XR CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission). All three are powered by a 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol engine that produces power of 85kW and torque of 185Nm, and it is an exceptional piece of engineering that does away with turbolag completely, while delivering the power and torque traditionally associated with a much larger petrol engine. The two manual versions make use of a great 6-speed manual box that is entertaining to drive with very accurate gearshifts, while the CVT, which is essentially a 10-speed automatic, is one of the best around and manages to get the best out of the willing little engine. Fuel consumption is a claimed 6.1 l/100km.
One of the Corolla Hatch’s greatest attributes is the ride quality, achieved mainly by the new platform, which is more rigid than before, as well as all-new multilink suspension and 16-inch alloy wheels with a decent tyre profile. The suspension has been set up to be an excellent balance between sportiness and comfort, so hopefully Toyota introduces some even more powerful engines in the future to make the most of it.
As you’d expect of a family vehicle, safety has been given priority with the Corolla Hatch. Stability control, seven airbags, ABS braking with EBD and brake assist are all standard, while the XR versions also get blind-spot monitoring. ISOFIX anchors, important for young families, are also included on all models.
Because the Corolla Hatch is no doubt aimed at the young and techno-friendly, the spec levels are impressive, with a touchscreen, dual-zone climate control, LED head- and taillights, cruise control, a reverse camera and keyless entry. In addition, the XR versions get sporty alcantara-leather combination seats, which are heated.
With the Corolla Hatch Toyota have done the clever thing, in getting more value out of the Corolla brand, and have created a vehicle that should appeal to a broad range of drivers. And with the combination of its striking good looks, excellent road manners and the Toyota name behind it, it is definitely capable of competing with anything in its price range.
The new Toyota Corolla Hatch comes with a 6-services/90 000km service plan and 3-year/100 000km warranty. Service intervals are set at 12 months/15 000km.
- Corolla Hatch 1.2T XS 6MT R336 800
- Corolla Hatch 1.2T XS CVT R347 400
- Corolla Hatch 1.2T XR CVT R367 100
- The Good
- Striking new design
- Great ride quality and handling
- Decent spec levels
- Full-size spare wheel