The Toyota Corolla is one of the old perennials of the motoring world. It’s been around for over 50 years and 44 million have been sold worldwide. In Ireland, we love the Corolla: it’s consistently one of the top 10 bestselling models here.
Just what is it about this rather innocuous four door saloon that has made it so popular and immune from changes in consumer buying habits? Even the SUV can’t kill off the Corolla.
We will get back to that but first let’s look at what’s new with this 2017 model. The exterior styling has been freshened up at the front and the back but most people will still recognise this car as the Corolla that launched in 2013. There are new LED headlamps at the front and a revised front bumper with a large lower grille. At the back there are new LED light clusters and new chrome trim that gives the rear a look of more width.
Inside the dashboard layout has also been revised. It’s easy to navigate and a centrally mounted 7” touchscreen adds modernity, standard on all but the base model. There is a good mix of materials with some soft padding along the dashboard, but hard plastics feature a lot. Still the quality is good and there is little to complain about behind the wheel.
The space in the car is excellent, with rear passengers being exceptionally well catered for with lots of legroom. There is no high transmission tunnel, which has really optimised space for the middle seat passenger and that makes the Corolla perfect for carrying three in the back. The boot is 452 litres, and though naturally the saloon boot style makes access more difficult, the opening is still quite wide and practical for a saloon.
The Toyota Corolla is well-priced, with the range starting at €21,995. In Ireland there are three trims – Terra, Luna and Sol – with standard features including cruise control, air con, Bluetooth and 16” steel wheels. Luna models (from €23,365) add the Toyota Safety Sense suite of safety equipment including a pre-collision system with pedestrian recognition, lane departure alert and road sign assist, as well as the Toyota Touch 2 infotainment system, rear view camera, auto lights and 16” alloy wheels. Sol models (from €26,750) add climate control, heated front seats, rear privacy glass and 17” alloys.
There are manual and automatic gearboxes, and a choice of 1.3- or 1.6-litre petrols, and a 1.4-litre diesel. The 1.4-litre diesel has just 90hp but offers ample power for the Corolla and is especially efficient, returning as high as 67mpg for me on some trips. The diesel gurgles away but it never gets too loud in the cabin. Elsewhere, the Corolla is a relaxing drive. The steering is light and the handling is not sporty but it is more than adequate. The long wheelbase makes the car very comfortable, especially on the motorway, though rougher surfaces do make themselves known in the cabin and there is some road noise.
It’s easy to understand the success of the Toyota Corolla because it’s a great sized car, reasonably priced and it’s solid to drive. The Corolla is not the sort of car you desire but it will be a great friend that won’t let you down.
Model tested: Toyota Corolla 1.4D-4D Sol
Price: €26,750 (Range starts at €21,995)
Engine: 1.4-litre turbo diesel
0-100km/h: 12.5 seconds
Top speed: 180km/h
CO2 emissions: 104g/km
Motor tax: €190 per year
If you are looking for a spacious, good value family car, you might also like this review of the Skoda Octavia.