WHEN it comes to new car launches some are a bit bigger than others… and if you are unveiling the latest generation of the best-selling motor in the world – ever – then the pressure is definitely on.
So it was for Toyota recently when they unveiled the 12th generation Corolla to Europe’s motoring journalists in beautiful Mallorca.
Along with dozens of hard-bitten motoring hacks your 50 Plus motors man was there to see what all the fuss was about at a glitzy event held in an exclusive 5-star resort hotel.
Now you may think that the good old Corolla has not been in the news much here for the last few years and that is because Toyota changed its name to the Auris over a decade ago.
But now the Corolla name is back (although it only went away in Europe) and Toyota are promising it is better than ever.
The new model line-up consists of a hatchback, touring sports (estate) and Sedan (saloon) and Toyota say that each has its own look and characteristics with design and engineering differences.
The new Corolla is also lighter yet 60 per cent stronger than the outgoing model thanks to extensive use of aluminium and high tensile steel in its construction.
It also marks the debut of Toyota’s new dual hybrid strategy. The Hatchback and Touring Sports are the first models to offer two self-charging hybrid powertrains, a 1.8-litre with 120bhp and a new 2.0-litre developing 178bhp. The saloon is also available as a hybrid for the first time with the 1.8-litre hybrid powertrain.
There is just one conventional engine option, a 114bhp 1.2-litre turbo petrol for the Hatchback and Touring Sports and the new Corolla range also features the latest Toyota Safety Sense technology.
Toyota’s Burnaston factory in Derbyshire is the European centre for production of the hatchback and touring sports, with hybrid engines (1.8-litre) from their factory in Deeside, North Wales while saloon models are made in Turkey.
Key features that improve the ride and driveability are an all-new multilink rear suspension, a drive mode select system with Eco, Comfort, Normal and Sport and a centre of gravity lowered by 10mm due to a wider front and rear track. Toyota say the result is a more engaging drive and after trying all three models I can see what they mean. The New Corolla is better to drive that previous Toyota models, some of which were labelled a little bland – no such problem here as the car rides well, has plenty of power and is quiet… except when you put your foot down hard and that CVT auto gearbox lets the revs rise.
There Is also extensive standard equipment across the range including LED headlights, seven-inch multi-information display and eight-inch central touch-screen with access to connected services and the latest Toyota Touch 2 with Go multimedia and navigation system.
Trim levels are Icon, Tech and Design, while toping the range are the Excel models.
The maximum EV drive cruising speed has been increased to 70mph on both hybrid engines. The 2-litre version can hit 62mph in a very respectable 7.9 seconds with a top speed of 112mph. As they are hybrids the combined cycle fuel consumption is up to a shade over 60mpg.
The new Corolla goes on sale in the UK in March and with prices starting from £21,300 for the entry level Icon model and going up to £27,300 for the range topping Excel. I am sure we will soon see the Corolla name back on our roads and in even greater numbers – with Toyota bucking the current downward trend in the fortunes of many car makers and continuing to grow its market share in the UK.
By Motoring Editor Steve Howarth