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The all-new Toyota Corolla 2018 model has arrived in showrooms, with Australia’s best-selling passenger car taking a step up-market.
Three grades will be offered for the new-generation Corolla hatchback - the Ascent Sport entry model, SX mid-spec version and ZR flagship.
This time around there is no Ascent base model, but it may come at a later date - that means no cut-price starting point for the new-generation Corolla hatchback line-up, and a starting list price of $22,870 for the Ascent Sport six-speed manual model, and $24,370 for the CVT auto - making the Corolla base car one of the more expensive offerings in the segment.
These models come powered by a new 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine with 125kW/200Nm, and the automatic model features a world-first 10-speed sequential auto set-up and a ‘launch gear’ that eliminates the whirring buzziness most CVT drivetrains suffer.
Fuel consumption is rated at 6.0 litres per 100 kilometres for the auto, and 6.3L/100km for the manual.
Toyota has taken an interesting tack with the new Corolla, offering a hybrid version of the Corolla across all model grades. So, a base model Ascent Sport hybrid will cost just $3000 more than the entry-level manual (and $1500 more than the auto), listing at $25,870.
The hybrid uses a 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol engine teamed with Toyota’s e-CVT auto, plus a nickel-metal hydride (Ni-MH) battery pack and an electric motor with maximum outputs of 53kW/163Nm. Combined maximum power is 90kW. Fuel consumption is class-leading, rated at 4.2L/100km.
The reason for the step up in price for the base model Corolla comes down to a strong standard equipment list.
Ascent Sport models come with LED headlights (with auto high-beam), LED daytime running lights, LED tail-lights, 16-inch alloy wheels, an 8.0-inch touchscreen media system with Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, voice recognition, USB/auxiliary connectivity and a six-speaker stereo.
Hybrid Ascent Sport models get push-button start, keyless entry and dual-zone climate control, where petrol versions have a regular old key and manual air-con. 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.
Safety has been a big focus for Toyota, with every automatic Corolla 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), a reversing camera and seven airbags (dual front, front side, curtain and driver’s knee).
If you choose the manual, you miss out on fully adaptive cruise that works at all speeds - it gets a ‘high-speed active cruise’ system instead, plus there’s no lane-keeping assist. All models get ISOFIX child-seat anchors.
The SX petrol model is only available with a CVT auto (priced at $26,870), and the premium for the hybrid version of the SX is just $1500 ($28,370).
For your extra expenditure over the Ascent Sport you get exterior differentiators such as fog-lights and privacy glass, while inside there’s a ‘premium steering wheel’, dual-zone climate control, a wireless phone charger, push-button start and keyless entry, DAB+ digital radio and satellite navigation with live traffic updates. The SX also adds a rear USB port, and blind-spot monitoring is added to this grade.
As with the lower-grade versions, the high-spec ZR is sold with a petrol-auto drivetrain, which lists at $30,370, and the hybrid version is comparatively quite affordable for a flagship hatchback, listing at $31,870.
ZR models look the sportiest of the lot, with a set of 18-inch alloy wheels making this model stand out from the pack - and inside there’s a fair bit of differentiation, too, with heated front sports seats, leather/'ultrasuede' seat trim, 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.
ZR models also gain electro-chromatic (auto-dimming) rear-view mirror and high-grade bi-LED headlamps.
All Corolla models will attract a $550 extra cost for premium paint, while the Ascent Sport is the only variant with optional equipment available: buyers can add sat nav and privacy glass for $1000. We’d suggest you just buy the SX.
The new-generation Corolla is bigger than its predecessor, measuring 4375mm long (+45mm) 1790mm wide (+30mm) and 1435mm tall (-40mm). Its wheelbase is 40mm longer, at 2640mm.
Theoretically that improves space inside the cabin, but the cargo area remains lacking by class standards. Ascent Sport and SX models have just 217 litres (VDA) of cargo capacity, well down on the class standard of 300 litres-plus. A spare wheel is the reason, with Ascent Sport petrol models carrying a full-size spare, while Ascent Sport hybrid, SX petrol and hybrid, and ZR petrol models all have temporary spares. The ZR hybrid goes without a spare, making do with a repair kit and a more sizeable 333L boot capacity.
Toyota has confirmed the new-generation Corolla will adopt the brand’s updated servicing policy, with maintenance due every 12 months or 15,000km, rather than the existing model’s busy service plan (every six months/10,000km). Toyota will persist with a three-year/100,000km warranty, too.
The Corolla has been Australia’s best-selling passenger car for several years straight, though competition from rivals such as the Mazda 3, Hyundai i30 and Volkswagen Golf has been heating up over recent months.