Browse over 9,000 car reviews

Sorry, there are no cars that match your search

You are here

Toyota Corolla ZR hatch 2017 review

EXPERT RATING
7.1
I know what you're thinking. If I buy the most expensive version of the most popular car on this planet how can I go wrong?

I know what you're thinking. If I buy the most expensive version of the most popular car on this planet how can I go wrong? Vulcans would be impressed by your logic, but is the Corolla ZR hatch, the priciest in the range necessarily the best in the line-up or even among its rivals.

We lived with a Corolla ZR hatch for a week having just spent the past three weeks with the Corolla Ascent Sport hatch and the Ascent sedan. We now know things that you should, too, such as what is the one option which costs twice as much as the one in a Range Rover? Read on to find out.

Toyota Corolla 2017: ZR
Safety rating
Engine Type1.8L
Fuel TypeRegular Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency6.1L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$19,490

Is there anything interesting about its design?   8/10

The ZR is the best looking Corolla money can buy, actually that's not true – the ZR and the SX grade are equally good looking and that's because they're identical from the outside. Both have the same sports body kit with side skirts and a more aggro bumper which makes the Corolla look more hunkered down. Top it off with those 17-inch alloys fill the wheel arches better and the ZR has a tough stance.

Toyota has done well to get the look fresh with updates since this generation Corolla arrived in 2012. Those freshen up have been made inside too with the touchscreen and new materials.

Rivals such as the i30 look more cutting edge than the familiar and well-loved Corolla hatch. (image credit: Richard Berry) Rivals such as the i30 look more cutting edge than the familiar and well-loved Corolla hatch. (image credit: Richard Berry)

The cabin's design is simple and stylish and the blue ambient lighting for the touchscreen and instruments is a premium feeling touch.

That said, the hatch is getting on in years both in style and mechanically, and rivals such as the i30 look more cutting edge than the familiar and well-loved Corolla hatch.

Measuring 4330mm end to end, 1475mm tall and 1760mm wide the Corolla hatch is 290mm shorter, 15mm narrower but 15mm taller than the sedan.

Our car came with the Glacier white paint which is a no-cost option and I reckon looks the best when combined with those super dark tinted rear windows and black elements to upper and lower grille. There are seven other colours to choose from including Inferno (a burnt orange), Blue Gem, Citrus, Crystal Pearl, Silver Pearl, Ink, Wildfire with premium paint costing $450.

How practical is the space inside?   7/10

The Corolla ZR is small but practical. I'm 191cm tall and there's just enough legroom for me to sit behind my driving position. Sure there's stacks more legroom in the back of the sedan version of the Corolla but headroom in the hatch is better.

There's two cup holders in the centre fold down armrest in the back and two more up front. (image credit: Richard Berry) There's two cup holders in the centre fold down armrest in the back and two more up front. (image credit: Richard Berry)

The Corolla's sedan's boot is also 110 litres bigger, but because the hatch tailgate has a larger opening and no parcel shelf when you fold those back seats down the hatchback is a much better cargo carrier.

Cabin storage is okay, with two cup holders in the centre fold down armrest in the back and two more up front, bottle holders in all the doors and a deep centre console bin.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   7/10

The top-of-the-range ZR Corolla with a CVT automatic (they only come with an auto) lists for $30,020 making it the most expensive in the five grade line-up but also the one decked out with the best and most standard features.

You'll get a 7.0-inch touchscreen with sat nav, a reversing camera, six-speaker stereo, Bluetooth connectivity, dual-zone climate control, stitched leather upholstery heated front seats, proximity unlocking, Bi-LED headlights, shifting paddles, 17-inch alloy wheels and a sports body kit.

30 grand is pretty pricey for a Corolla, considering the range begins at $21,210. (image credit: Richard Berry) 30 grand is pretty pricey for a Corolla, considering the range begins at $21,210. (image credit: Richard Berry)

The ZR also comes standard with the advanced safety technology introduced in the 2017 update. You'll pay $1500 for the same safety package on the base spec Corolla.

Is it good value? Well, 30 grand is pretty pricey for a Corolla, considering the range begins at $21,210 for the Ascent hatch, but it undercuts what the rivals are charging for their small hatches. The Hyundai i30 SR is $30,950, the Mazda3 SP25 is $31,990 and the Holden Astra RS-V is $31,740.

Yes it's a good price but, be sure to check out the others – especially the i30 because it's currently the newest of the small hatches and I would be willing to argue all night that it's best value for money in this segment.

Not good value for money is the panoramic sunroof fitted to our Corolla ZR – it costs $1530 and looks exquisite but I've just driven the top of the line Range Rover and its optional sunroof is $820.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   6/10

All Corollas - apart from the hybrid (yes there is one, we've reviewed it here) - have the same 1.8-litre engine. That's right, so even the fancy ZR has an identical 103kW/173Nm four cylinder engine.

There's no manual gearbox alternative with the ZR, you'll have to make do with the CVT automatic which does a good job of being smooth, but lack sporty responsiveness.

Seriously, CVTs are the equivalent of a water-saving shower head in a bathroom that even when you've got in on full bore makes the water dribbles out – sure CVTs are super fuel efficient but they just don't send the drive to the wheels with much oomph.

How much fuel does it consume?   7/10

As much as I'm not a fan of CVTs for their lack of sporty enthusiasm, they are undeniably fuel efficient and Toyota says that with the CVT the hatch should need 6.1L/100km of regular unleaded petrol in combined driving conditions – that's a mix of urban roads and highways.

The ZR is comfortable and easy to drive with a far more 'zippier' feel than the sedan version. (image credit: Richard Berry) The ZR is comfortable and easy to drive with a far more 'zippier' feel than the sedan version. (image credit: Richard Berry)

Our test car saw mainly urban roads with a few highways thrown in during its weeks with us and its trip computer said it was averaging 9.3L/100km.

The same engine in the sedan official gets 6.6L/100km.

The engine in the Corolla is happy to be feed drink the cheap 91 RON petrol should make fill up the 50 litre tank a little easier on the budget, too.

What's it like to drive?   6/10

Underneath that sporty exterior is the same car as the base-spec Ascent, there's no increase in grunt from the engine, it's the same suspension, same brakes, and steering. If anything the ZR is probably a fraction slower off the mark because its 55 kilos heavier.

The shifting paddles seem unnecessary, given that the transmission is a CVT and doesn't actually have gears.

Yes, sure the tyres are 10mm wider and lower profile (215/45 R17) which may improve grip and handling, but the ride on them is not as comfortable as the more cushiony ones on the Ascent.

Still, the ZR is comfortable and easy to drive with a far more 'zippier' feel than the sedan version of the ZR.

Those shifting paddles seem unnecessary given that the transmission is a CVT and doesn't actually have gears.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

3 years / 100,000 km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   8/10

The Corolla ZR hatch has the maximum five-star ANCAP rating, but then again so does almost every new car – well it should anyway. What you need to look for is the advanced safety equipment that's offered, too. Since the start of 2017 the ZR has comes with AEB, lane departure alert and auto high beams. It's the grade of Corolla that comes standard with this advanced safety tech.

There are two ISOFIX mounts and three top tether points across the back row for child seats, and under the boot floor you'll find a space saver spare wheel, which is a disappointing because you'll get a full-sized spare wheel in the Ascent and Ascent Sport grades which cost a lot less.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   8/10

The Corolla Ascent Sport hatch is covered by a three year/100,000km warranty. Servicing is recommended every six months or 10,000km and is capped at $140 per visit up to 36 months or 60,000km.

Verdict

Buy the ZR for its safety technology like AEB, for its luxury bits like heated leather seats and for its great looks, but keep in mind that comfort is compromised by those tyres, that you miss out on a full sized spare. Think about that if you're buying a Corolla which is a great car, then it may be better to go for the Ascent Sport. There's a reason why that one is the most popular in the range.

Pricing Guides

$16,990
Based on 2312 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$14,490
Highest Price
$26,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Ascent 1.8L, ULP, CVT AUTO $14,490 – 18,500 2017 TOYOTA COROLLA 2017 Ascent Pricing and Specs
Ascent Sport 1.8L, ULP, CVT AUTO $14,888 – 21,888 2017 TOYOTA COROLLA 2017 Ascent Sport Pricing and Specs
Hybrid 1.8L, Hyb/PULP, CVT AUTO $21,470 – 24,999 2017 TOYOTA COROLLA 2017 Hybrid Pricing and Specs
SX 1.8L, ULP, 6 SP MAN $20,883 – 22,998 2017 TOYOTA COROLLA 2017 SX Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.1
Design8
Practicality7
Price and features7
Engine & trans6
Fuel consumption7
Driving6
Safety8
Ownership8
Richard Berry
Senior Journalist

Share