Audi A3 VS Toyota Corolla
- Sedan styling looks superb
- Quattro all-wheel drive on highest grade
- AEB on all grades
- Plain standard interior
- Limited rear legroom
- Low on standard features
- Hybrid option for all grades
- Good to drive
- Looks terrific
- Small boot
- Backseat is cramped
- Missing some gear
Audi’s A3 is one of the most affordable ways into this prestige German brand. But like some amusement park mirror maze you’ll find with so many A3 variations there are numerous, seemingly identical ways into the model.
Which one do you choose? There’s a sedan, a hatch, and a convertible with four different engines, not to mention front- or all-wheel drive.
That’s why this range review is here – to guide you through the A3 hall of mirrors, and identify the right model for you.
|Engine Type||2.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
The all-new Toyota Corolla 2018 hatchback is here, and it has you in its sights.
Not literally. And not the car. Toyota, the brand that has been the number one seller in the country for the past 15 years straight, wants you to buy even more Corollas, because being the best-selling passenger car for the past few years in a row isn’t enough.
The story here, though, is that there’s less of a focus on fleet buyers, and more focus on everyday consumers. And to say that another way, the brand has pushed away from the base-model drive-away deal approach for the new Corolla, instead focusing on a higher-price-but-much-higher-spec way of thinking.
So, prices are up. There’s no base model equivalent anymore. And it comes loaded with equipment. Does that combination make the new-generation Corolla hatchback the best example of its type to date? Read on to find out.
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
The Audi A3 is now five years into this current generation and it’s beginning to show its age in terms of tech and styling in the cabin, despite updates adding new equipment. It’s expensive compared to most small cars but is spot-on for a prestige vehicle.
The Sedan is, in my view, the best looking small sedan on the planet and offers the biggest boot space in the A3 range. The Sportback, however, is arguably more practical, with better legroom, headroom and cargo carrying ability (with the rear seats down). The Cabriolet has the same perfect proportions as the sedan, but like all good convertibles doesn’t make practicality a priority.
The sweet spot of the range would have to be the Sportback 2.0 TFSI quattro S Line with its $50,000 list price making it the most affordable but most 'specced up' A3 in the entire range.
You have $50,000. Do you buy an entry-grade Audi A3 Cabriolet, a 2.0 TFSI Sport Sedan or a Volkswagen Golf R? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
A truly compelling Toyota Corolla? You bet - that’s exactly what the new-generation model delivers, and not just due to the fact it’s a good looking car - it’s also good value, has a strong focus on safety, and is now theoretically better to own than ever, too. If you need a really roomy hatchback you need to look elsewhere, but for a style statement - I can’t believe I’m writing this - the Corolla could be for you.
My personal pick of the range is the ZR hybrid, which has efficiency in terms of driving and space. But the pragmatist in me reckons you get a lot of Corolla in SX 2.0-litre guise - it's a value option that's hard to ignore.
Are you drawn to the new Toyota Corolla hatch? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.
Also check out Matt's video review from the Corolla's international launch:
The A3 comes in three body styles: a five-door hatch, which Audi calls the Sportback; the four-door Sedan, and a two-door convertible which it refers to as the Cabriolet. It may not surprise you to learn they're all different sizes, too.
The Sportback doesn’t look like the shortest of the three but at 4313mm end-to-end it’s 145mm shy of the Sedan and 110mm shorter than the Cabriolet. But those exterior dimensions don’t tell the whole story on interior space. So, which one is more practical? We’ll get to that.
But first, the looks. The Sportback has a wagon-like appearance with its large (for a hatch) rear quarter windows. If you think it looks longer than a regular hatchback, you’re right: a Volkswagen Golf is 50mm shorter even though it shares the same platform as the A3.
However, unlike the Golf, there’s something about the Sportback’s proportions which doesn’t seem balanced.
Then there’s the A3 sedan. Now this is a perfectly proportioned car. Looking like a miniature version of the A8 limo, the A3 is one of the only tiny sedans on the planet that looks fantastic.
The Cabriolet is based on the Sedan, and it too looks beautifully proportioned. Soft tops, when they’re up, never do much for a car’s profile. Be it a Bentley or an A3, they always look better down. When the roof is down the A3 appears lower, sleeker, and tougher.
While all A3’s have the same grille and headlight design the rear treatment of the Sedan and Cabriolet is more refined with their blade-like tail-lights and boot lid lip, than the Sportback, even if it does have a roof-top spoiler.
Interiors are identical across each A3 grade, the cabin benefiting from excellent fit and finish and the use of high-quality materials. But if you like bling-tastic cockpits, maybe you should be looking at a Benz A-Class because even the fanciest A3 money can buy, the RS3, comes with a small display screen and a rather low-key interior design.
As for rivals, the new A-Class (which I’ve just reviewed) is a glitzy competitor in hatch form, with a soon-to-arrive sedan going head-to-head with the little Audi as well.
It’s the best looking Corolla, ever. Hands down.
There’s no point trying to argue otherwise, because the exterior design - particularly for the ZR model - somehow manages to look like a hot-hatch with its body kit comprised of side skirts, a low front spoiler, a rear diffuser and tailgate-mounted rear spoiler. The 18-inch alloys look terrific, and even the lower-grade versions on 16s with a more sedate design look pretty smart. Remember, this is a Toyota Corolla!
Rather than looking bloated in size, the sculpted lines and angular edges help tame the dimensions of the new Corolla hatch. It is bigger than its predecessor, with the body measuring 4375mm long (+45mm) and the wheelbase’s extra 40mm (now 2640mm) helping look more planted and substantial than before. The extra width - now 1790mm, up 30mm - and the lower roof (height: 1435mm, down 40mm).
It looks low and wide, sleek and muscled. It’s a chunky little number, and I really think it looks good no matter the grade. What a shame Toyota hasn’t decided to bring the bigger rear spoiler that was fitted to US cars, because it completed the look - particularly for a high-spec car on 18s.
I love that Toyota has made LED headlights standard across the range, too, and the ZR gets even higher-spec bi-LEDs. Some brands still offer halogens in their entry cars, and HID headlights, projector headlights or xenon lights. LEDs are not only longer-lasting, their lower energy consumption and lower replacement cost makes them a logical inclusion. Good on you, Toyota.
I’ll get to the interior dimensions in the next section, but have a look at the interior images and let us know if you prefer the leather trim, or the cloth… I think the latter could be the pick.
The Sportback and Sedan have five seats, while the Cabriolet has four. Leg and headroom in the back row for all body styles is limited. The Sportback will give you the most rear legroom, while the sedan has a few millimetres more space for your knees than the Cabriolet.
At 191cm tall I can sit behind my driving position in the Sportback with a pinkie finger’s space, while my knees brush the seatback in the Sedan, and the Cabriolet won’t accommodate my long legs back there at all.
Rear headroom in the Sportback isn’t bad with enough room for my big head to clear the ceiling thanks to that tall(-ish) flat roofline while the sedan is a tighter fit but I just make it under. The Cabriolet’s low fabric roof means only small adults or kids will be able to sit up straight back there – unless the top is down and then you have literally unlimited headroom.
Boot space varies obviously depending on the body style. The Sedan has biggest cargo capacity with 425 litres, the Sportback offers up 340 litres, but fold those rear seats down and you have 1180 litres at your disposal, plus a bigger aperture to fit stuff in. The Cabriolet’s folding roof eats into the boot space, but you’re still left with 320 litres even when it’s down.
The folding roof is automatic and can be raised or lowered at up to 50km/h, but it’s slow - I’ve timed it and it takes about 20 seconds to open or shut.
Storage throughout the cabin is limited, too. There are two cupholders up front in all cars, while the Cabriolet is the only A3 to have two cupholders in the back (they’re between the rear seats). If you want cupholders in the rear of the Sedan and Sportback you’ll have to option the $450 fold-down armrest which houses them.
All grades above the 1.0 TFSI come with storage nets in the seatback and front passenger footwell, 12-volt sockets in the rear centre console and boot, plus cargo nets back there, too. There’s a USB jack in the centre console of all A3s.
You can’t mistake the new model for the old one, which is more than we can say for some small hatchbacks.
There’s an all-new dashboard design, with less of a slabby look to it and more of a premium appearance. The dimensions state the new Corolla hatch is wider, and it feels like a more open space than the predecessor car.
The cabin is really nice, well designed and with quality materials throughout. The ZR gets sportier looking seats, but in all models the seats are a big step forward for Toyota - even if you can’t get electric adjustment or memory settings in any grade.
The fact there’s an electric park brake adds to the simple smartness of the cockpit, and the storage is cleverly dealt with, too - there is not one cupholder but two between the front seats, and there are bottle holders in all the doors, and a deep covered centre bin plus a cubby for your phone in front of the shifter.
Every model in the range comes with an 8.0-inch touchscreen media system, but you only get sat nav built-in on the mid- and high-grade models, and none come with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. That’s annoying.
But there’s Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, plus USB connectivity. And in the SX and ZR, you get a rear USB port.
Speaking of the back seat, there’s only just enough space for me to sit behind my own position, because those front seats - as comfy as they are - have big backs to them and they eat in to the space.
It’s not the benchmark in terms of rear legroom and shoulder space, but it certainly is capable of dealing with a young family of four, if not a family with growing teens. Headroom is questionable in the back for taller occupants, with the ceiling side sections impinging on the space to an uncomfortable degree if you’re my size (182cm).
Plus the fact there is only a black headliner available makes if feel quite cosy in the cabin. Some might say claustrophobic, in fact… Another concern is that the high-spec model gets rear-seat air-vents, but the two lower grades don’t. And the ZR gets nicer door plastics, where the Ascent Sport and SX have cheaper feeling hard plastics.
If you want the most practical hatch out there in terms of boot space and luggage capacity, you’re going to have to look elsewhere. The ZR hybrid model gets the biggest boot size of the range because it has a tyre repair kit instead of a spare tyre. The storage space is 333 litres (VDA), as opposed to 217L in all other variants, whether they have a full-size spare (Ascent Sport petrol) or not (all others).
At least there’s a retractable cargo cover, and you can get a cargo barrier fitted if you prefer to lower the 60/40 split-fold rear seats and turn it into a compact van. Hey, some people do! And those people might also want to get a cargo liner to stop the carpet from getting wrecked.
There are no models with roof rails, but an 'Eclectic Blue' ZR model with a roof rack set-up would look very cool.
Price and features
The A3 isn’t great value for a small car, generally speaking, because while you are getting a high-quality prestige vehicle, it doesn’t come with a mountain of equipment that you might find on a more affordable little hatch or sedan.
Look at it this way: take $40 into a fish and chip shop and you’ll walk out with your arms full of food, take the same amount into a Michelin-starred restaurant and you’ll be lucky to get an entrée. Same with buying a prestige car – and the A3 really is a starter on the Audi menu.
Coming standard on the entry-grade $36,200 1.0 TFSI Sportback are xenon headlights with LED running lights, cloth upholstery, dual-zone climate control, a 7.0-inch touchscreen with sat nav, reversing camera, multimedia system with voice control, eight-speaker stereo, Bluetooth connectivity, CD player, front and rear parking sensors, rear view camera and 16-inch alloy wheels.
Only the Sportback comes in this 1.0 TFSI grade. The rest of the body styles start with the 1.4 TFSI ($40,300 for the Sportback; $41,900 for Sedan; $49,400 for Cabriolet) which comes with the 1.0 TFSI’s equipment but swaps the cloth seats for leather upholstery and adds paddles shifters, aluminium-look interior elements and 17-inch alloy wheels.
Stepping up to the 2.0 TFSI Sport ($46,400 for Sportback; $48,000 for Sedan; $55,500 for the Cabriolet) adds leather sports front seats, aluminium door sills, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and 17-inch alloys with a different design.
The 2.0 TFSI quattro S line ($50,000 for the Sportback; $51,600 for Sedan and $59,100 for the Cabriolet) brings in lowered sports suspension, 18-inch alloys and LED headlights.
Each grade also attains more safety equipment, which we’ll cover further on.
I’ve also reviewed Mercedes-Benz’s new A200, which is a good model comparison for the A3. At a list price of $48,200 the 1.3-litre four-cylinder A200 is pricier than the 1.4 TFSI, but offers better value than the A3 2.0TFSI with more equipment, including two 10.25-inch display screens.
As for paint colours, only 'Brilliant Black' and 'Ibis White' won't cost you a cent more. Optional colours include 'Cosmos Blue', 'Tango Red' and 'Monsoon Grey'.
How much can you expect today for the new-generation Toyota Corolla? This price list should help guide you through the range of models on offer, and what each will cost.
The entry-level Ascent Sport is available with a 2.0-litre petrol six-speed manual at $22,870 (RRP - that’s the list price, not a drive-away price), a 2.0-litre petrol with new 10-speed CVT auto at $24,370, or a 1.8-litre petrol-electric hybrid with CVT auto at $25,870. Toyota expects the Ascent Sport to make up the bulk of sales, as it did for the previous model (more than 60 per cent).
The next step up is the SX, which is available with the 2.0-litre four-cylinder CVT at $26,870, or a hybrid CVT for just $1500 more ($28,370).
The range-topping model is the ZR, again available with the 2.0-litre CVT drivetrain ($30,370), or as a hybrid at $31,870. That’s pretty affordable for a flagship hatchback - many competitors sit in the mid-to-high $30k range.
To make it easier to do your own models comparison, here’s the spec breakdown for each of the trim levels: Ascent Sport vs SX vs ZR.
The Ascent Sport has LED headlights (with auto high-beam), LED daytime running lights, LED tail-lights, 16-inch alloy wheels, an 8.0-inch touch screen multimedia system with Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, voice recognition, USB/auxiliary connectivity and a six-speaker stereo. You’ll need to choose the hybrid model if you want push-button start, keyless entry and dual-zone climate control (you get manual air conditioning in non-hybrid Ascent Sport versions).
All Ascent Sport models come with a plastic steering wheel with audio controls, but at least there’s an electric park brake and a 4.2-inch colour info display for the driver. You can option sat nav and privacy glass on this grade for an extra $1000.
The next step up is the SX, which adds fog lights, tinted windows, a ‘premium steering wheel’, a wireless phone charger, DAB+/DAB digital radio and a navigation system with GPS live traffic updates. The SX has two USB ports (one front, one rear). It has a smart key no matter the drivetrain.
Flagship ZR grade versions look the sportiest of the lot, with a set of 18-inch rims adding some presence. Inside there are heated front sports seats, 'ultrasuede' and leather seats, driver’s lumbar adjustment, a 7.0-inch driver info display, ambient lighting, a head-up display and a JBL sound system with eight speakers (no subwoofer, though). ZR models also gain an electro-chromatic (auto-dimming) rear-view mirror and high-grade bi-LED headlamps.
Other standard features include expected items like power windows for all four doors and a power mirror for each of the front doors, a digital clock, central locking with automatic door lock, and a detailed trip computer. In the boot you’ll find a tool kit to help you change a tyre if you need.
Sadly, unlike some competitor top-spec models, there’s no panoramic sunroof (even as an option), and you can’t get electric seat adjustment on any grade, or a heated steering wheel, either. Models from Kia and Hyundai have those bits, plus ventilated (cooled) front seats on their high-spec wares… but the price is pretty appealing on this flagship Corolla.
And on the topic of things the Corolla misses out on, there is no Apple CarPlay and no Android Auto - so you’ll have to just connect your iPhone (or other smartphone/mp3 player) via Bluetooth. And while some people think all cars should have a built-in DVD player, CD player or CD changer, that’s not the case here - no new Corolla has any of those things.
Who knows? Maybe Toyota will offer a premium package with some of those bits at a later date… If not that, then a black pack special edition or a sports edition is almost certain!
This model change has seen Toyota focus in on safety equipment - read the safety section to see what’s included on which models. Here’s an early hint, though: the electric power steering allows an active lane assist system, and all models have ESP (electronic stability program) with VSC (vehicle stability control), and manual models have a hill holder function.
There are eight colours to choose from: there’s 'Glacier White', which is the only no-cost colour, or you will need to add $450 if you choose 'Crystal Pearl' (a nicer white), 'Volcanic Red' (which almost looks orange at times), 'Eclipse Black', 'Peacock Black', 'Eclectic Blue', 'Silver Pearl', and the very fetching 'Oxide Bronze' (which is like a mix of green and grey).
One nice option for ZR customers is the choice between black or red interior leather highlights - the red looks good in combination with a white exterior paint colour, but in most other instances, the black has a bit more of an understated appearance.
Accessories for the Corolla are set to include floor mats (ask the dealer to throw them in for free), and while some aftermarket suppliers may be able to fit a nudge bar, we don’t think a bull bar will do the styling any favours.
How many seats in the Corolla hatch? Five is the answer.
Engine & trans
Now on to the engines. Yes, I’m doing this in what may seem a strange order, but trust me, it’s to guide you safely through the A3 range without anybody getting lost. We don’t leave anybody behind here, not on my watch.
The grades indicate the engines in the A3 line-up – the higher the grade, the more powerful the engine. So, the range starts with the 1.0 TFSI which has a 85kW/200Nm 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine, and steps up to the 1.4 TFSI which has a 110kW/250Nm 1.4-litre four-cylinder with cylinder on demand (COD) letting it run on two cylinders when not under load). Both are front-wheel drive (FWD) cars.
Next rung up is the 2.0 TFSI Sport and that has a 2.0-litre four making 140kW/320Nm with drive going to the front wheels. The top of the range is the 2.0 TFSI quattro S line which has the same engine but is all-wheel drive (AWD).
Those are all turbo-petrol engines – yes, no diesels and no manual gearbox option either. All have a seven-speed dual-clutch automatics shifting the gears.
If you’re after something more hardcore in the same package, there are two halo ‘models’ that sit above the A3 range: the S3 with a 213kW/380Nm 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four and the RS3 with its 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbo-petrol making 294kW/480Nm.
Let’s talk engine specs.
The entry-level engine size has jumped up from a 1.8-litre to a 2.0-litre - still a four-cylinder, but Toyota calls this engine the 'Dynamic Force' petrol engine, and while the name might suggest it’s a turbocharged motor, it’s not.
The direct-injection 2.0-litre’s output ratings have jumped, with power at 125kW (at 6600rpm) and torque pegged at 200Nm (from 4400-4800rpm). The horsepower output is up 21 per cent, while torque is up 15 per cent.
Only in the Ascent Sport grade can you play the ‘manual vs automatic’ game - that spec allows you to choose between a six-speed manual transmission or a newly-developed CVT automatic transmission. The rest have CVT only, but the manual gearbox has a rev-matching feature. Sporty!
It’s some CVT, though - a 10-speed sequential unit with a ‘launch gear’, which essentially is a conventional first gear like you’d find in a torque converter automatic, and enables “brisk take off”, unlike a regular CVT which can whirr and buzz.
The other option is a 1.8-litre petrol-electric hybrid four-cylinder. As always, things are confusing in terms of power ratings: the engine can produce 72kW (at 5200rpm), and 142Nm (at 3600rpm), the electric motor is capable of 53kW and 190Nm, and the maximum output from the drivetrain is 90kW. It uses an 'e-CVT' automatic.
The hybrid is the conventional type, with the battery pack recharging by way of regenerative braking. You can run on EV mode, but it’s not a plug-in hybrid, so you can’t recharge it at home - rather, you might recharge it on your way home.
There are no diesel specifications to speak of, as there’s no oil-burner available. The statistics don’t lie - at the time of writing, less than two per cent of passenger car sales are diesel vehicles. Forget an LPG/gas dual fuel version for Australia, too.
In Australia, every Corolla is front-wheel drive (4x2). There is an all-wheel drive model (AWD) in markets where snow is more common, but it’s not a proper 4WD or 4x4. You can forget rear-wheel drive - that’s best left for the Toyota 86.
The kerb weight of the Corolla hatch ranges between 1320kg and 1420kg, depending on the drivetrain and spec of the car. There is no gross vehicle weight figure given by Toyota.
Fuel usage depends on the engine and body style, with weights varying across the range. The most fuel-efficient engine is the 1.0-litre which is only offered on the Sportback, and Audi says over a combination of urban and open roads you should see it use 4.8L/100km.
The 1.4 TFSI Sportback uses 5.0L/100km, while the Sedan uses 4.9L/100km, but the heavier Cabriolet drinks more at 5.1L/100km.
My most recent A3 test car was a 1.4 TFSI Sportback and the trip computer reported 7.6L/100km over a mix of city and country kays - not bad.
The 2.0 TFSI Sport Sportback uses 5.9L/100km, the Sedan needs 5.8L/100km, the Cabriolet a bit more at 6.0L/100km.
The 2.0 TFSI quattro S Line Sportback uses 6.2L/100km, while the Sedan will go through 6.1L/100km and the Cabriolet again is highest with 6.4L/100km.
That raises the question of how much more does the Cabriolet weigh? About 170kg more than the Sedan and Sportback thanks to the extra reinforcement needed to strengthen the body to compensate for the rigidity it loses by not having a fixed metal roof.
The new Corolla hatch with the hybrid drivetrain is the most efficient non-diesel hatchback in its class, with fuel consumption claimed at 4.2 litres per 100 kilometres (if you prefer, that’s almost 23.8km/L). No three- or four-cylinder petrol engine can match that… But if you want the most frugal vehicle in the class, you can’t beat the diesel fuel consumption of the Peugeot 308 (4.0L/100km, or 25.0km/L).
The 2.0-litre petrol automatic model has good fuel economy, too, using a claimed 6.0L/100km (16.7km/L) which is better than many non-turbo rivals, but not quite as good as the likes of an entry-grade VW Golf. An eco mode, sport mode and normal mode will likely effect the fuel use of the 2.0-litre CVT model.
The six-speed 2.0-litre manual is claimed to use a bit more than the auto: 6.3L/100km (15.9km/L)
Your mileage for the hybrid will be determined by fuel tank size - 43 litres - while the 2.0-litre has a 50-litre tank capacity.
Now if you plan to fit a tow bar to your Corolla, you best not buy a hybrid version. The petrol-electric model has no towing capacity at all, because of the design of the car. Instead, you can opt for a petrol model with a capacity of up to 450kg for an un-braked trailer, or 1300kg braked.
I’ve driven all A3 variants from the 1.0 TFSI to the 2.0 TFSI quattro S Line, plus the S3 and RS3, but most recently I tested the 1.4 TFSI Sportback, which I’ll focus on here.
Our car was fitted with two optional packages – the 'Style Package' which adds LED headlights, 18-inch alloys and sports suspension, and the 'Technik Package' which brings a virtual instrument cluster, an 8.3-inch display and sports steering wheel.
Those larger 18-inch alloys wearing low profile 225/40 Hankook Ventus S1 Evo2 tyres look great, but like thin-soled shoes you’ll feel every imperfection on the road giving a harsher texture to the ride, plus they can be noisy on course-chip bitumen.
I’d stick to the standard 16-inch wheels. Sure, they don’t look as racy, but the ride from those, on 55 profile tyres, is a lot more cushioned.
Despite that grittier feel from the tyres the sports suspension is excellent and manages to soften bigger bumps well. Handling is good too, thanks to that suspension keeping the body well controlled.
Good visibility, steering that’s light but offers decent feel, and a comfortable seating position make the A4 pleasant to pilot, but not hugely engaging. If you're after more of a driver’s car, the S3 and RS3 will deliver – trust me.
Acceleration isn’t bad from the 1.4-litre, with 0-100km/h claimed to be 8.2 seconds. That dual-clutch transmission is a quick shifter and smooth even in bumper-to-bumper traffic, but only if you turn off the stop-start engine system (jerky and hard to tolerate).
I’m also not a fan of the way the stop-start system switches the engine off as you coast to a stop at traffic lights and intersections. For me, that borders on a safety issue, particularly when needing to turn on an amber only to find you momentarily lack steering or power.
As mentioned in the engine/transmission section, the 1.4 TFSI Sportback is a FWD car. Put it on a steep hill, as I did on our test incline, and even in dry conditions it’ll lose traction under hard acceleration. Traction control reins the slippage in, but AWD 'quattro' cars won’t struggle for traction in the same circumstances.
As with every model the company has built on the new Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA), the Corolla is better to drive than the model it replaces. And in this car’s case, it’s a quantum leap forward.
Admittedly it’s not the fastest hatchback out there - 0-100 acceleration speed takes a back seat to fuel efficiency, for example - but the performance is better than we’ve known from the Corolla for some time.
A lot of that comes down to the new Dynamic Force engine and its very clever CVT auto transmission. There isn’t a huge amount of power, but there’s definitely more than ample grunt to get things going, and the CVT’s clever launch gear really does make stop-start traffic and green light acceleration less annoying than it used to be. It offers much more zesty engine response than the engine outputs suggest, although it can be a little noisy under hard acceleration.
Of course, the hybrid drivetrain is a tried and tested (you can read that as ‘old’, if you like) unit, and while it doesn’t move the game on for tech, it is usable, fuss free, and largely well refined. You can expect to run about 2.0km on electric power alone.
The new platform means the entire body of the car - including the centre of gravity, overall height and the ground clearance (135mm) - is lower than before. And it handles like it’s more hunkered down, too.
There is a slight difference in terms of ride quality depending on the size of the alloy wheels you’re driving atop. The lower-grade variants with 16-inch wheels are slightly more pliant, while the 18 inch alloys have a slightly terser edge to them, particularly over sharp bumps.
It’s nice to see a big jump in wheel sizes between low/middle and top-spec versions - there are no 15-inch or 17-inch rims, and thankfully no chrome wheels, either…
You will notice, though, there’s more road noise on the bigger wheels (not that the 16s offer the most muted drive, with noticeable tyre roar on coarse-chip surfaces), and there’s an impact on the car’s park-friendliness, too.
The ZR has an 11.4m turning circle (5.7m radius) compared with the 11.0m turning circle (5.5m radius) but the ZR has a slightly different steering ratio, (13.6 compared to 13.5), and what that translates to is a slightly more direct rack in the ZR, and fewer turns lock to lock (2.65 compared with 2.76).
In short, the ZR feels more sporty to drive. It has a warm-hatch feel to it, gripping better than the lower-spec cars thanks to better, wider Dunlop tyres. It’s genuinely enjoyable to push through corners.
Stopping power is pretty impressive in the petrol, and fine in the hybrid. Both have ABS brakes (anti-lock brakes) and brake assist, so you will stop in a timely and straight fashion, but the pedal feel of the hybrid model’s brakes proved a bit squishy.
The A3 has a maximum five-star ANCAP rating from its 2013 crash test, which applies to the Sportback, Sedan and Cabriolet.
While the Sedan and Sportback have seven airbags, the Cabriolet has just five, missing out on the head-level curtain bags.
The amount of advanced safety equipment increases as you step up through the grades, but AEB is standard across the range. Lane keeping assistance, blind spot warning and rear cross traffic alert becomes standard from the 2.0 TFSI Sport upwards, while the lower grades can attain these with the optional $1500 'Assistance Package'.
For child seats there are two ISOFIX mounts and two top tether anchor points across the back seats in the Sedan, Sportback and Cabriolet.
There’s no ANCAP crash test safety rating as yet for the Corolla hatch. But Toyota says it anticipates the maximum five-star ANCAP score.
The level of safety features offered on all Corolla models is very good.
Every automatic Corolla is fitted with auto emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection (day and night) and bicyclist detection (day), adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning with lane-keeping assist, speed sign recognition, active cornering control (torque vectoring by braking),
If you choose the Ascent Sport manual you miss out on fully adaptive cruise that works at all speeds, down to 0km/h - instead, it gets a ‘high-speed active cruise’ system. Plus the manual misses out on lane-keeping assist.
Corolla SX and ZR models add blind-spot monitoring, but there’s no rear cross-traffic alert. And while every Corolla has a reverse camera, but none come with a surround view camera, nor are there parking sensors fitted to any model as standard (front and rear sensors are available as an accessory option, fitted by the dealer). Unlike some competitors, there’s no semi-automated park assist, either - even in the high-grade.
All Corolla hatchback models have seven airbags, including dual front, front side airbags, driver’s knee and full-length curtain. Further, every Corolla hatchback has ISOFIX and top tether attachments, meaning fitting your baby car seat should be a breeze.
It shouldn’t really matter where a car is made these days, but there are still people who will ask ‘where is the Toyota Corolla built?’ And the answer varies: for the hatchback models, it’s Japan; for sedans, it’s Thailand.
Toyota persists with a three-year/100,000km warranty, which is below par these days. Rival brands Hyundai, Mazda, Ford and Holden all have five-year/unlimited kilometre plans, while Kia extends that out to seven years.
If you fear the reliability rating for the Corolla won’t be terrific, there’s the option of an extended warranty plan - up to three additional years/150,000km total - which should put your durability doubts at ease.
But the Corolla can now match the best of them for service intervals, with maintenance due every 12 months or 15,000km, whichever occurs first. There’s a five-year/75,000km capped price servicing program for the new-generation Corolla, and the maintenance cost is capped at $175 per visit. That makes the service cost for Corolla hatch pretty much unbeatable.
It’s a big improvement over the existing Corolla, which had a three-year/60,000km service plan, and visits for the old model were due every six months/10,000km. You still don’t get included roadside assistance, but at $78 a year it’s not a budget-breaker.
Resale value on Corolla hatches has typically been stronger than some competitors - just be sure to keep your owners manual / logbook stamps up to date to make sure you get the best second hand price possible.
It’s hard to say if there will be any long-term reliability concerns with the new architecture and drivetrains applied in the Corolla range. Be sure to check out our Corolla problems page to see if any complaints, issues, automatic gearbox problems, clutch, suspension, engine or cruise control problems, or any other common problems.