Toyota's recipe of value-for-money, build quality and reliability has seen the brand become number one in this market, and the Corolla one of its most successful models.
Now in its 10th generation the Corolla is one of our firm favourites, new or used, and there's no sign we're tiring of the little car from Japan.
The Corolla has got better with each new generation and the 10th generation released in 2007 continued the pattern of improvement. Like those that went before it the new Corolla was well built, solid and sensible.
The cars sold in Australia came from the Japanese production line rather than one of the 15 factories producing them in other parts of the world. Two models, a traditional four-door sedan with a boot and a five-door hatchback, were offered in the new range.
Both boasted clean, fresh, youthful lines that fitted well with younger buyers without troubling older traditional Corolla buyers. As is often the case the new Corolla was larger than the car it replaced, which made it more user friendly. Younger buyers could accommodate more of their mates; older ones had no trouble transporting their families.
The rear seat could take three, making it possible to accommodate five all up. One of the reasons for the roominess was the rather upright style of the Corolla, which allowed the occupants to sit higher in a more upright position.
The Corolla's engine was a 1.8-litre four with double overhead camshafts and Toyota's VVT-I variable valve timing that gave zippy performance along with good fuel economy.
When at its peaks the engine pumped out 100 kW at 6000 revs and 175 Nm at 4400 revs, enough to give it good acceleration and overtaking performance. Toyota offered a choice of six-speed manual and four-speed auto gearboxes, with drive through the front wheels.
While many carmakers were going to five-speed autos Toyota stuck with four, but it didn't seem to affect the Corolla's drivability or performance to any great degree.
Changes to the front and rear suspension, coupled with a wider track improved the Corolla's stability, handling and ride comfort.
The model range was made up of four sporty hatches - Ascent, Conquest, Levin SX and Levin ZR - and three practical sedans - Ascent, Conquest and Ultima.
ON THE LOT
Pay $12,000-$18,000 for an Ascent sedan, $14,500-$20,000 for a Conquest sedan, and $19,500-$25,000 for an Ultima. For a hatch pay $12,500-$18,500 for an Ascent, $15,500-$19,500 for a Conquest, $15,500-$20,500 for a Levin SX, and $18,500-$23,500 for a Levin ZR.
IN THE SHOP
Just three years old the Corolla is still in its infancy with the earliest 10th generation cars only having 50,000 km or so under their treads. Few complaints have come through the Cars Guide, and those that have been received have been of a one-off nature and not serious.
Even though all appears to be well with the Corolla it's still important to check for a service record to make sure the required maintenance has been done.
The Corolla engine has a cam timing belt, and it's important that it be changed as recommended, but that's not until 150,000 km so there's some time before that falls due. Also make the usual visual checks to the bumps and scrapes that come with everyday life on the road.
IN A CRASH
With dual front airbags only the Corolla Ascent was rated at four stars out of five when tested by ANCAP, all other models rated at five out of five with additional side front airbags and head airbags.
All models had an impressive array of active safety gear, including ABS anti-lock brakes, electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD) and brake assist (BAS) for optimum emergency stopping. Electronic stability control wasn't offered on any model until 2009 when it became standard on the Levin ZR hatch and Ultima sedan.
UNDER THE PUMP
Toyota claimed the Corolla would average 7.3 L/100 km in manual form and 7.7 L/100 km when equipped with the auto trans. Contemporary road testers generally reported figures that were a little higher, at 7.9 L/100 km for the manual and 8.5 L/100 km.
- Toyota build quality
- Cute contemporary looks
- Roomy cabin
- Good all-round performance .
- Five-star safety
ALSO CHECK THESE
HYUNDAI ELANTRA - 2007-2009 A measure of the improvement in the ability of the Koreans to build quality cars, the Elantra scores well for affordability, features, comfort and reliability. Pay $10,500-$18,500.
SUBARU IMPREZA (except WRX) - 2007-2009 All-wheel drive is a winning feature on the Impreza, as is its level of safety, but it lacks some of the sizzle of its rivals. Dull performance, excessive noise, and dated interior disappoint. Pay $14,000-$25,000.
HOLDEN VIVA - 2007-2009 Korean-built small Holden worth a look if you value price and cabin space above the driving experience. Modest performance, general lack of road feel, and average build quality reduce its appeal. Pay $9000- $15,000.
THE BOTTOM LINE
A well-built, practical and reliable all-rounder for all ages. 80/100