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New Toyota Corolla Levin ZR review

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    Punchy honest performance with no fuss and surprising economy - Corolla is no longer a shrinking violet. Photo Gallery

Peter Barnwell road tests and reviews the new Toyota Corolla Levin ZR and answers the big questions.

We turn the spotlight on the car world's newest and brightest stars as we ask the questions to which you want the answers. But there's only one question that really needs answering -- would you buy one?

What is it?

This is Toyota's top of the range generation 11 Corolla with all the gear and the best looks too thanks to liberal use of chrome highlights. It's the same under the skin as the others except for slightly sharper steering response compared with other lesser Corollas.

How much?

This one goes for $28,490 with the CVT auto adding two grand. We would suggest it's money well spent.

What are competitors?

Too numerous to list - some are Lancer, Pulsar, i30, Mazda3, Civic and Impreza.

What's under the bonnet?

A revised version of the previous 1.8-litre petrol twin cam four banger with about the same power as before, rated at 103kW/173Nm.

Drive is to the front wheels via either a six-speed manual (with annoying throttle flare on up changes) or a silky seven step CVT with paddle shift in the Levin ZR.

How does it go?

Quite impressive actually. No sports hatch but good, punchy honest performance with no fuss and surprising economy. Smooth running and feels like it will (nearly) run for ever.

Is it economical?

Yes, we saw 6.6-litres/100km without really trying. And it's 91 RON, not premium.

Is it green?

It has adequate green credentials - minimal fuel use helps, the manual with a four and a half star rating, and the CVT with a five star rating in the Green Car Guide.

Is it safe?

Five stars - seven air bags.

Is it comfortable?

Very. The Levin ZR has plenty of luxury kit and attractive leather upholstery, excellent SUNA satnav, premium audio, large format reverse camera, plenty of seat and driving position adjustment, Bluetooth, you name it.

What's it like to drive?

Surprisingly good given the disparaging remarks often heard about "Corollas." It's totally unjustified in this case because this one is a relatively engaging drive - to a point of course as it's primarily aimed at general duties. But there's an edge to it and it's is good to steer.

Is it value for money?

Yes, other makes will struggle to stay with Corolla.

Would we buy one?

Absolutely. We'd even consider the test car at around $30k. Like the looks, the chrome bits and the striking looks inside and out. Corolla is no longer a shrinking violet.

Toyota Corolla Levin ZR

Price: from $28,490
Warranty: 3 years 100,000km
Engine: 1.8-litre 4-cylinder, 103kW/173Nm
Transmission: 6-speed manual or 7-speed CVT, FWD
Thirst: 7.1L/100Km CO2 166g/km (manual), 6.6L/100km CO2 152g/km (CVT)


Holden Cruze SRi-V
Price: from $31,790
Engine: 1.4-litre 4-cylinder, 103kW/200Nm
Transmission: 6-speed auto, FWD
Thirst: 6.9L/100km, CO2 164g/km


Holden Cruze - see other Holden Cruze verdicts


Hyundai i30 Premium
Price: from $29,990
Engine: 1.8-litre 4-cylinder, 110kW/178Nm
Transmission: 6-speed auto, FWD
Thirst: 6.9L/100km, CO2 164g/km


Hyundai i30 - see other Hyundai i30 verdicts


Mazda3 SP20 Luxury
Price: from $30,990
Engine: 2-litre 4-cylinder, 113kW/194Nm
Transmission: 6-speed auto, FWD
Thirst: 6.1L/100km, CO2 143g/km


Mazda3 - see other Mazda3 verdicts




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