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HYER LOVE (some text hidden)
By Jonathan Crouch
Toyota's Corolla now has a primary focus on 1.8-litre hybrid power. Jonathan Crouch drives it.
Ten Second Reviewword count: 45
Toyota wants to enter fresh territory with this Corolla and make hybrids more universally acceptable in the family hatchback segment. If that's going to work, this volume 1.8-litre petrol/electric model needs to be deeply impressive. We thought we'd try the hatch version to find out.
Backgroundword count: 190
The Corolla lineage is certainly impressive. It's still the world's most successful automotive model nameplate, dating back to 1966, since when 46 million cars have been produced. Away from naming semantics, there's much of interest here, not least the fact that the primary engines offered are petrol/electric hybrids. There are two of them from the brand this time round, a 1.8 and a 2.0-litre unit, both of the 'self-charging' non-plug-in variety. This Corolla also aims to change customer perceptions of Toyota in this sector, which tend to centre around expectations of drab interior quality, forgettable looks and boring drive dynamics. This car, we're promised, is a huge step forward from its Auris predecessor in all these areas. But will all that be enough to at last make this Japanese maker competitive at the sharp end of this class amongst Focuses and Golfs? There are three body styles on offer, a saloon variant joining the five-door hatch we tested and the alternative 'Touring Sports' estate. All are built on the 'TNGA' 'Toyota New Global Architecture' platform and the hatch and estate are constructed at the brand's British factory in Burnaston, Derbyshire.
Driving Experienceword count: 301
The 1.8-litre hybrid unit we tried works with a 53kW 600V electric motor to generate a combined system output of 122hp. That recipe might sound pretty similar to that of the old Auris hybrid, but the powerplant on offer here is now a much cleverer unit. There's an increased valve angle for a better fuel and air mix, plus it can switch at will between intake and direct injection to prioritise either performance or economy. Toyota says it's worked hard to better mate this package with the belt-driven CVT auto gearbox that all its hybrids have to have, pointing to the way that greater torque from the electric motor should now provide a more linear increase in revs under acceleration. And sure enough, if you've owned one of the brand's petrol/electric models before, you'll notice that this one is more driveable. But the whole point here is to garner conquest sales from customers previously used to a small diesel. These folk will still have to adapt to the way that big throttle inputs cause a flare of revs that the set-up initially struggles to translate into rapid forward movement. And they'll also still need to accept a vast reduction in mid-range pulling power; this engine's very modest 142Nm torque output is about 40% down on what you'd get from a typical 1.5 or 1.6-litre rival small diesel unit, something you'll really notice in give-and-take motoring; overtakes have to be planned much further in advance. Push on and you should find this Toyota far more dynamically able than its segment predecessors this time round. Throw the car into a corner and you'll find that though this Corolla is no Focus, it far from disgraces itself, with a decent level of front end grip and steering that's predictable and accurate, though rather light.
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Category: Hybrid, Plug-in, Electric & Hydrogen
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