The new Toyota Corolla GR Sport is now on sale in Ireland

Toyota Corolla GR Sport (2020) Review

The new Toyota Corolla GR Sport is now on sale in Ireland
The new Toyota Corolla GR Sport is now on sale in Ireland

Caroline drives the new Toyota Corolla GR Sport!

2019 saw the arrival of the all-new Toyota Corolla to Ireland. The Corolla’s arrival was heralded by three new derivatives – hatchback, estate and saloon – with hybrid a key part of the brand’s mission in the compact segment.

The new Corolla has been an indisputable success in Ireland and is the 2020 Continental Tyres Irish Medium Car of the Year.

What’s so great about the new Toyota Corolla?

Well there are three distinct models all with fuel sipping hybrid powertrains built upon Toyota’s more agile and dynamic TNGA platform. All feature modern interior design and there are even optional two tone paint finishes that take even more years off the Corolla. This car has never looked better. Now Toyota sees even more potential with this car, introducing a sportier hybrid powertrain and new GR Sport trim level, exclusive to the Corolla Hatchback.

It’s wonderful to watch the Corolla explore its new, more fashionable position in the market. It's even better to experience this car from the driver’s seat. I couldn’t quite believe that I was picking up a sporty Corolla. For too long Corolla stood for sensible, reliable transport. But it was hardly a car that you really, really desired to drive, over say a Ford Focus or Volkswagen Golf. Now all that has changed.

Toyota has big plans, not least a rumoured full on Corolla GR performance hatchback in the next few years, a follow up to the rapturous Yaris GR. The GR Sport is a trim level where you get sportier visual updates to the car inspired by high performance models. To recap GR stands for the wonderfully named Toyota performance division ‘Gazoo Racing’. The Corolla GR Sport is just the second model to join the European GR Sport line-up following the introduction of the Yaris GR Sport in 2019.

The GR Sport gives a sporty makeover to the Corolla, Ireland's bestselling car
The GR Sport gives a sporty makeover to the Corolla, Ireland's bestselling car

What features does the Corolla GR Sport get?

The Corolla Hatchback range starts from €26,390 in Ireland and now exclusively uses a petrol electric hybrid powertrain. There are two hybrid powertrains to choose from - the 1.8-litre with 122 hp that we tested last year in the Corolla Hatchback - and the more powerful 2.0-litre hybrid with 184 hp tested here in GR Sport specification. This top of the range model has a list price of €35,053. The GR Sport trim level is also available with the 1.8-litre hybrid powertrain. It retails from €32,485 in this configuration.

The GR Sport makeover looks really good on the Corolla. It’s a handsome hatchback anyway but sporty features look genuinely comfortable here. The Toyota Gazoo Racing influence comes in distinctive styling elements like a new honeycomb mesh pattern front grille with piano black surrounds, lower skirts, and sills. At the rear there is a silver insert in the lower bumper, creating the look of twin tailpipes and a diffuser. A black roof comes as standard matched to a choice of five body colours. Wheels are 18” black alloy with a contrasting bright machined finish to the tips of each spoke and red GR centre caps. There is also rear privacy glass and bi-LED headlights. The finishing touches are black backgrounds for the Toyota emblems on the bonnet and boot lid, and official GR badging.

What's it like inside?

Inside the GR Sport has a few bespoke features too. There are lots of soft touch black panel finishes. Red stitching on the gear selector, steering wheel and seats adds a nice contrast. The seats have a sports design with fabric in the centre and leather-effect bolsters. They are comfortable and supportive. The GR Sport also benefits from the same interior technology as the rest of the Corolla range. Infotainment is controlled via a touchscreen that can connect to a smartphone via Bluetooth. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity has just been added to the 2020 Corolla range too.

The interior of the 2020 Toyota Corolla GR Sport
The interior of the 2020 Toyota Corolla GR Sport

There's a new seven-inch colour TFT multi-information screen. Other standard features include Toyota Safety Sense, smart entry, rear privacy glass, automatic wipers, auto-dimming rear-view mirror and power-adjustable door mirrors with an auto-folding function.

The Corolla Hatchback will seat five however the Touring Sports (estate) and Saloon have more legroom because of a longer wheelbase. The rear legroom in the hatchback is on the small side for this class of vehicle, especially if there is a tall driver and front seat passenger! Boot space in the 2.0-litre hybrid models is also slightly compromised because the car’s battery is positioned under the boot floor. The standard Corolla Hatchback has 361 litres of boot space, however the 2.0-litre hybrid has less at 313 litres.

On the road in the 2020 Toyota Corolla GR Sport!

Driving the new Corolla GR Sport was an opportunity to experience the brand’s new 2.0-litre hybrid powertrain. There’s more power and torque than in the standard 1.8-litre version. It has been engineered to be more responsive and fun to drive. This is all while still retaining a low emission hybrid powertrain.

Immediately the hybrid engine impressed me. It feels faster, more robust, smoother and more mature in drive. Power delivery is on the pedal responsive and with 184 hp, the Corolla 2.0-litre can really take off. The Corolla is a much improved car dynamically. I enjoyed the more powerful set-up in this car with smoother CVT automatic operation. Paddle shift gear changes are also possible. Over a week of driving my average fuel consumption was 7.1 litres per 100 km, while motor tax is just €180 per year.

My verdict on this car is two fold as I’m essentially reviewing two things – the GR Sport spec additions and the 2.0-litre hybrid powertrain.

Last year I performed a number of test drives with the Corolla 1.8 litre and for many people this engine will suffice. It is the one to go for if you are genuinely looking for a fuel sipping car to save on fuel costs as time and time again it returned great economy for me. The 2.0-litre hybrid is more powerful and fun to drive. It feels like a more grown up affair yet fuel consumption does suffer a bit with the more performance bias of the design.

The Toyota Corolla GR Sport explores Corolla's sporty new character
The Toyota Corolla GR Sport explores Corolla's sporty new character

I think the GR Sport is a wonderful addition to the range. I adore the sporty look of this Corolla.

Corolla has grown up and got some street cred. The GR Sport explores the Corolla’s cool new character even more!

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Toyota Corolla GR Sport 2.0-litre Hybrid
Price: 
€35,053 (from €26,390)
Engine: 2.0-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 
184 hp
Torque: 190 Nm
0-100km/h:  
7.9 seconds
Top speed: 180 km/h
Fuel consumption (WLTP): 
5.3 l/100km
CO2 emissions (WLTP):
120 g/km
Motor Tax: €180 per year


Caroline and the new Opel Grandland X Hybrid4!

2020 Opel Grandland X Hybrid4 First Drive Review

Caroline and the new Opel Grandland X Hybrid4!
Caroline and the new Opel Grandland X Hybrid4!

The Opel Grandland X Hybrid4 is the Opel brand’s first plug-in hybrid. It will arrive in Ireland later in February as the new, all wheel drive, range topper of the Grandland X mid-size family SUV range. Caroline travelled with Opel Ireland to the Black Forest, Germany, to test drive it.

Styling

The Opel Grandland X Hybrid4 is a standard, friendly-looking family SUV, except for one key differentiating feature – the black bonnet that is exclusive to the Hybrid4. While this reviewer is a fan, Opel Ireland thinks it’s a risky move so dealer stock will be monotone only (the black bonnet will be available by special order). There’s a Hybrid4 badge at the rear and an extra flap housing the socket to charge the battery on board.

Interior

The new plug-in hybrid variant carries the same interior as the rest of the Grandland X range, except for a few new buttons and screens to control and monitor the hybrid system. The Grandland X cabin is quite sombre and conservative, but well-built with the latest technology features including the 8" touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The Opel Grandland X Hybrid4 can drive like an electric vehicle for up to 59 km
The Opel Grandland X Hybrid4 can drive like an electric vehicle for up to 59 km

Practicality

The Opel Grandland X Hybrid4 is a mid-size family SUV with seating for five and competitive rear seating space for this class of vehicle. The battery has been placed under the rear seats and there has been little intrusion to the space in the vehicle as a consequence of the electrified powertrain. Charging cables can be stored in a special compartment under the boot floor and the boot is still competitively sized.

Engines

The new Opel Grandland X Hybrid4 pairs a 1.6-litre petrol engine with two electric motors to produce an overall system output of 300 hp and 520 Nm of torque, making it the most powerful model in the Grandland X range. An eight speed automatic gearbox comes as standard.

There will also be a front wheel drive only Opel Grandland X Hybrid available from March with 225 hp.

CO2 emissions are as low as 29 g/km.

On the road

The Opel Grandland X starts in electric mode and has a pure electric range of up to 59 km. The driver can select easily between four driving modes on start up: Electric, Hybrid, Sport and AWD.

Once leaving the confines of Basel Airport, I slipped the Grandland X into hybrid mode. In this mode, the car intelligently selects how much electric assistance to give. Over the first leg of my test drive over motorway and then smaller, fast flowing roads through the Black Forest, my average fuel consumption was an economical 4.6/100km.

Opel engineers encourage owners to plug their new Grandland X Hybrid in every day because the best economy is returned from the car when the battery is kept topped up, as common with all plug-in hybrids. For drivers who travel a short commute comfortably within the 59 km, it would be possible to run the car on electricity only, dipping into the fuel tank rarely. Of course there is never fear of range anxiety because you always have the back up of the petrol engine.

Opel Grandland X Hybrid4 has all wheel drive for extra reassurance in challenging road conditions
Opel Grandland X Hybrid4 has all wheel drive for extra reassurance in challenging road conditions

On the return leg of the journey back to the airport, my battery power ran low as we did not charge at our lunch stop. Average fuel consumption was 6.3l/100km over a 100 km journey that included high speed Autobahn driving.

I dipped into Sport mode during my test drive and it turns the Opel Grandland X into a different animal. This performance biased mode gives the driver instant feedback through the pedals. However, this is not a sports SUV, the Opel Grandland X won’t hustle around corners like a hot hatch but it’s a pleasant pop of power in an otherwise demure SUV.

Charging

The battery can be fully charged in around two hours with a 7.4 kW wallbox or about seven hours using a three point plug at home.

Equipment

In Ireland the new Grandland X Hybrid 4 will be available in the high spec Elite trim. Equipment includes 19" alloy wheels, 8" colour touchscreen, leather seat trim, power adjustable driver's seat, heated front seats, panoramic glass roof, front parking sensors, driver drowsiness system, forward collision alert, automatic emergency braking, lane assist and side blind spot alert.

Pricing

The new Opel Grandland X Hybrid4 Elite will go on sale in Ireland priced from €47,415. The Grandland X Hybrid (front wheel drive) will go on sale from €36,645 for the entry SC, €39,245 for the SRi and €41,745 for the Elite. All prices quoted here are inclusive of Government grants and incentives amounting to €7,500 for plug-in hybrids.

The interior of the new Grandland X Hybrid4
The interior of the new Grandland X Hybrid4

Rivals

The new Opel Grandland X Hybrid and Hybrid4 will compete against sister brand Peugeot’s 3008 Hybrid4 and the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.

Summary

The new Grandland X Hybrid4 is a pioneering new product for the Opel brand. Along with the new Corsa-e, these models spearhead the brand’s move to electrification that will see the brand’s entire product portfolio with a battery electric vehicle or hybrid by 2024.

The Grandland X is currently available with diesel and petrol engines, and the Hybrid4 marks a new departure, now offering another option for buyers seeking to move to a lower emissions vehicle.

With the standard Grandland X range kicking off at €28,995, the Hybrid4 carries a significant investment. And though huge savings can be made on running costs, some strategy regarding charging at home and at your destination is needed in order to truly see the benefits of a PHEV.

The hybrid system itself is impressive, as are the performance figures for a standard mid size family SUV. But it’s the green credentials of the Opel Grandland X, not the sporty ones, which should truly inspire buyers to own one.

The Grandland X Hybrid4 is available from €47,415
The Grandland X Hybrid4 is available from €47,415 in Ireland

Caroline Kidd


The Ford Mondeo Hybrid Estate

Ford Mondeo Hybrid Estate Review

The Ford Mondeo Hybrid Estate
The Ford Mondeo Hybrid Estate

Caroline drives the Ford Mondeo Hybrid.

Ford has been slow to adopt an electrification strategy but the reveal of the new Mustang Mach-E is a strong sign of commitment to EV technology from the global car brand. Surprisingly it’s the brand’s Mondeo that has seen the best efforts yet at cutting emissions and providing customers with more trendy alternatives to diesel.

The problem with that strategy is while hybrid might be sexy, the Mondeo is not! It’s a practical car but showing its age. In these times where change in the car industry is occurring so quickly, there is little mercy to be shown to the Mondeo.

The Ford Mondeo Hybrid debuted in Ireland in 2018 and the hybrid estate model I had on test is new for 2019.

The Mondeo now has more than a whiff of old school about it – the styling hasn’t changed much over the last 5 years or even ten years – but it does major on classic big car qualities like comfort and refinement. Now with a hybrid option, it offers low mileage, frequent urban users a more fuel efficient solution in a big car.

The interior of the Ford Mondeo Hybrid Estate
The interior of the Ford Mondeo Hybrid Estate

Inside the Ford Mondeo Hybrid Estate

On first impressions, the interior of the car is very dull and dated but there is an attractive enough colour display for the driver with useful information about the hybrid system. The SYNC 3 infotainment system also features and is compatible with Android Auto and Apple Car Play.

In Ireland, the Ford Mondeo Hybrid is sold as a Titanium or Vignale model and goes on sale priced from €35,247. Standard equipment on my Titanium model included cruise control, traffic sign recognition, dual zone climate control, parking sensors, rear view camera, lane keeping aid, roof rails and 16” alloys.

This car is huge inside and super comfortable making it easier to forgive its shortcomings. It’s not cutting edge but it’s a fantastic car to drive very day, one that never disappoints. I did many miles in this car and it was an absolute pleasure. The estate is super practical, but the battery gives an unusual shape to the boot floor.

Boot volume is in excess of 400 litres
Boot volume is in excess of 400 litres

Driving the Mondeo Hybrid Estate

I did a lot of motorway driving and over a week of driving my fuel consumption averaged at 5.8l/100km, though in town I saw consumption as little as 5 l. It works best in urban environments, when it’s working more on electric power. The Mondeo Hybrid favours a more gentle right foot to build its power slowly and steadily. Too much throttle and there’s more annoying transmission noise. But it’s powerful enough when you need it for overtaking manoeuvres.

The Ford Mondeo Hybrid has some stiff competition from the likes of the Volkswagen Passat GTE and the Toyota Camry. Yes, it’s a big comfy cruiser but is that enough in these times? The hybrid system can return good efficiency with a little bit of care. The interior is far from cutting edge and where the car shows its age the most. The Mondeo has fallen some way from its glory days but it is still a satisfying car in its own way.

The Ford Mondeo Hybrid is available from €35,247
The Ford Mondeo Hybrid is available from €35,247

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Ford Mondeo Estate HEV Hybrid Titanium
Price:
€35,247 (Range from €32,580)
Engine: 2.0-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 
187 hp
Torque: 173 Nm
0-100km/h: 
9.2 seconds
Top speed: 187 km/h
Fuel economy:
5.4l/100km
CO2 emissions: 
103 g/km
Motor tax: 
€200 per year

 


The new Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Review

The new Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
The new Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV plug-in hybrid SUV slipped quietly into the Irish new car market back in 2014 as an off-beat alternative that some people might buy instead of a diesel. The Outlander PHEV was ahead of its time, diesel was still king, and Ireland just wasn’t ready for a hybrid revolution. The plug-in hybrid Outlander was also significantly more expensive to buy than the diesel model.

But public interest in electrified powertrains and hybrids has increased dramatically in the intervening years, with much of the change happening in the last 12 to 18 months. Now we are in a situation where more people will buy the Outlander PHEV because governments and car manufacturers are starting to put an expiry date on diesel.

It’s good news that this corresponds with a major technical update for the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. The main aim of the 2019 update has been performance and efficiency, with a few cosmetic changes also.

In Ireland the new Outlander PHEV range starts from €39,900. With SEAI grants and VRT relief of €7,500 included, the PHEV range is now priced in the region of the diesel Outlander range. Though the caveat here is that the PHEV is five seat only to accommodate a 13.8 kWh battery under the boot floor, while the diesel model gets an extra two seats in the rear.

The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is available from €39,900
The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is available from €39,900

The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is a relatively unique car in the market at its price point. 2019 has seen the arrival of what are probably the closest competitors: the new Honda CR-V Hybrid and Toyota RAV4 Hybrid. These cars straddle the same price range and are low emission SUVs. However, as a plug-in hybrid the Outlander PHEV can be driven on electric power alone for up to 45 km. This means that for buyers who regularly do short journeys and can charge on either end of that journey, there is potential to run the Outlander very cheaply indeed.

What’s new for 2019?

The 2.0-litre petrol engine has been replaced by a new 2.4-litre petrol engine that has more power (135 hp vs 121 hp), across a wider rev range. The electric powertrain has also been improved, with the rear electric motor now producing 95 hp and a battery capacity increased to 13.8 kWh.

Under the skin, the shock absorbers of the suspension have been revised to improve the low speed ride. The steering rack has been quickened and the power steering ECU re-mapped to offer more responsiveness and feel. There are also larger front brake discs for improved stopping power. A new ‘Sport’ mode gives more throttle response and grip from the all wheel drive system. With an electric motor on each axle, the Outlander PHEV can operate in 4x4 even in the electric mode. The all wheel drive system has a new ‘Snow’ mode to improve low grip launching and cornering.

Visually, the Mitsubishi has a strong road presence with a characteristic front end and redesigned grille with chrome elements and LED light signature. At the back, there is a redesigned rear bumper and a roof spoiler. The Outlander PHEV has quite a boxy and utilitarian shape, which means it’s a very spacious vehicle inside. Head and legroom are very good in the rear. The middle seat is quite narrow, but there is a flat floor. Despite housing a battery, the boot is still large and practical at 463 litres, with underfloor storage for charging cables.

The interior of the 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
The interior of the 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

The mid-range Instyle model I had on test (from €43,900) came very well equipped with 18” alloys, LED headlamps, adaptive cruise control, dual zone climate control, heated steering wheel, heated front seats, rear parking camera, high beam assist, lane departure warning and forward collision mitigation.

A touchscreen comes as standard and supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for seamless integration with smartphones. There are a number of menus that can be accessed from the touchscreen and the instrument panel to inform the driver of such things as power flow, energy consumption and range.

The cabin quality is generally good but it’s not the most modern or distinct cabin among this class of vehicle, with some old-fashioned switchgear and graphics.

Driving the 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

On the road, the Outlander’s hybrid powertrain is pleasantly smooth and refined. It’s not sporty but it is agile for its size and comfortable for long journeys. Performance is lively enough with a 0 to 100 kmh sprinting taking 10.5 seconds. The Sport mode offers a sharper throttle but it’s not really necessary for the most part, really just giving the driver more confidence in overtaking manoeuvres.

The Outlander PHEV has a new engine and improvements to hybrid powertrain
The Outlander PHEV has a new engine and improvements to the hybrid powertrain

CO2 emissions of just 46g/km mean that motor tax is just €170 per year. The Outlander PHEV offers a number of different driving modes including a pure EV mode, a normal hybrid mode and a battery save mode where you can save your electric range until you reach a low speed, urban environment, for example. You can charge the Outlander PHEV from a domestic mains supply using a three point plug (about 5 hours) or using the public charging system, where 80% battery power can be achieved in just 25 minutes.

I managed to travel 40 km on electric power only and I got into the habit of plugging in and keeping the battery charged up. In some scenarios where the car was working mostly on electric power, I saw consumption as low as 2 l/100km! However, on longer journeys working in hybrid mode, economy plummeted once the battery power was gone. In these scenarios, I saw fuel consumption as high as 7 l/100km.

Rear seating in the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
Rear seating in the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

Would you buy it?

For the right owner, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is a large SUV full of potential to run cheaply. The ability to plug in the Outlander and drive it on pure electric power gives it an edge over other hybrid SUVs and makes this car a unique proposition in its price range. However, the Outlander PHEV becomes less efficient in motorway and long distance driving. So in these scenarios, there’s no real advantage to owning an Outlander PHEV.

Yet for drivers with regular commutes within that 40 km range who can charge on both ends of the journey, this is one large 4x4 SUV that can absolutely be run very cheaply. Mitsubishi has packaged the battery extremely well to provide a spacious five seat vehicle with a boot that’s still practical and competitive for this class of vehicle.

The hybrid powertrain is smooth and refined, while the interface to control the different driving modes is user-friendly. Mitsubishi has reputation as the manufacturer of off-road vehicles and the Outlander PHEV is not compromised in that regard. The Outlander PHEV has the surprising ability to blend 4x4 off-road ability with a silent EV stealth mode! Packaged within the fashionable exterior of an SUV, the Outlander PHEV is impossible to ignore for the technology it offers in its price range. For urban dwellers who desire the image of an SUV and need the space and practicality it offers, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV makes particular good sense.

The Outlander PHEV is a large family SUV with potential for very low running costs
The Outlander PHEV combines 4x4 off-road ability with EV motoring!

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Instyle
Price:
€43,900 (Range from €39,900)
Engine: 2.4-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 
135hp (engine), 82hp (front electric motor), 95hp (rear electric motor)
Torque: 211 Nm (engine only)
0-100km/h: 
10.5 seconds
Top speed: 170 km/h
Fuel economy (WLTP):
2.0 l/100km
CO2 emissions (WLTP): 
46 g/km
Motor tax: 
€170 per year

 


The new Toyota Camry Hybrid

2019 Toyota Camry Hybrid Review

The new Toyota Camry Hybrid
The new Toyota Camry Hybrid

Caroline drives the new Toyota Camry Hybrid!

The Toyota Camry is the unlikely legend of the Toyota brand – it’s the classic big Toyota saloon that actually disappeared from Europe in 2014. But it appears in the interim the Camry built up some sort of mythical status because the reaction to the car’s comeback in Ireland in 2019 has been nothing short of astounding. Who knew there were so many closet Camry fans?

The Camry is now a very on trend fuel-sipping hybrid and is playing a key part in the renaissance of the Toyota brand in Europe, featuring the latest in Toyota technology and design upon Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA).

Priced from €39,750 in Ireland, the Toyota Camry is a big barge. The new car has so much presence with a long, lean body and wide front end. From the driver’s seat it feels even better - you can see that big bonnet in front of you, giving the Camry driver a ‘king of the road’ feel!

The interior of the 2019 Toyota Camry
The interior of the 2019 Toyota Camry

Inside the 2019 Toyota Camry

So naturally I really enjoyed my time behind the wheel of the Camry. The interior is large and comfortable with lots of equipment included as standard: Toyota’s Safety Sense including automatic high beam, adaptive cruise control and lane departure alert with steering control, LED lights, smart entry, rear privacy glass, power retractable heated door mirrors, rear view camera and dual zone climate control.

The bestselling Hybrid Sol grade test car comes with leather upholstery, heated front seats and satellite navigation. The car is resolutely made – no rattles in this interior. The fit and finish is confidence inspiring. There’s plenty of soft-touch padding, leather, and wood-like grain mouldings but the vibe is more retro than cutting edge. The graphics on the central touchscreen are a little bland and there is no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, but I was so comfortable I kind of didn’t care!

Though the roofline is quite low, both the cabin floor and the front and rear passenger seat hip point heights have also been set as low as possible to ensure a spacious interior and lower the centre of gravity. Cabin space is really good. The footwells in the rear are large and a flat transmission tunnel means it’s no bad place for the middle passenger either. The boot is very large at 524 litres but the saloon opening restricts access somewhat.

The Toyota Camry Hybrid is on sale in Ireland priced from €39,750
The Toyota Camry Hybrid is on sale in Ireland priced from €39,750

How good is that hybrid?

The new Camry uses the 2.5-litre petrol electric hybrid powertrain with 218 hp available and power driven through the front wheels using a CVT automatic gearbox. I’ve had one or two gripes about the refinement of this set up in the RAV4, but no such issues here – the new Toyota Camry is remarkably smooth and refined. It’s a pure joy to drive. Acceleration is brisk and power delivery nigh on seamless. The new Camry can definitely bring it to premium rivals based on comfort, refinement and insulation. Driving dynamics are neat, rather than sporty.

It is also truly efficient. Motor tax is just €190 per year and over five days of driving my fuel consumption averaged at 4.9l/100km.

I really didn’t expect to enjoy the Camry as much as I did, but I immediately felt at home in it. It’s rock solid, smooth and comfortable with classic big car refinement. Toyota seem to have saved their best iteration of the hybrid powertrain for the Camry – it works exceptionally well here and is very efficient for a large car also. The Camry interior features the latest safety and infotainment features, however it does not feel cutting edge. In fact it has a distinct 90’s retro vibe! It might not be for you, but for me those old school values are shockingly reassuring in this crazy world. Amen to Camry!

The Toyota Camry merges a super efficient hybrid powertrain with classic big car comfort and refinement
The Toyota Camry merges a super efficient hybrid powertrain with classic big car comfort and refinement

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Toyota Camry Hybrid Sol
Price:
€40,750 (Range from €39,750)
Engine: 2.5-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 
218 hp
Torque: 221 Nm (engine only)
0-100km/h: 
8.3 seconds
Top speed: 180 km/h
Fuel economy:
4.3 l/100km
CO2 emissions:
101 g/km
Motor tax: 
€190 per year

 


The new Honda CR-V Hybrid

2019 Honda CR-V Hybrid Review

The new Honda CR-V Hybrid
The new Honda CR-V Hybrid

Caroline drives the new Honda CR-V Hybrid!

Honda has electrified their new CR-V range with the addition of the new Honda CR-V Hybrid. Based on the new generation of the popular family SUV, the new CR-V Hybrid uses a petrol electric hybrid powertrain to deliver fuel consumption as low as 5.3l/100km and CO2 emissions of just 120g.

Priced from €38,000, the 2019 Honda CR-V Hybrid carries a premium over the new CR-V 1.5 VTEC petrol (from €33,500) but comes with a sophisticated hybrid powertrain and automatic transmission. Available with five seats only, the CR-V Hybrid is a large family SUV with plenty of kerb appeal. The evolution between the styling of this new CR-V and the previous generation has been quite gentle, but there are broader and more muscular wheel arches, sharper contours on the bonnet and rear quarters, as well as the latest Honda headlight signature. LED lights and 18” alloy wheels come as standard.

If you don’t immediately fall in love with the CR-V on the outside, you certainly will once you sit inside. The Honda CR-V has a fabulous build quality and the interior is immaculately finished with plenty of soft touch materials, metallic trim and wood-effect inserts in the dashboard and doors. On all but the entry model, there is a stylish looking 7” touchscreen set in the dash with the Honda Connect infotainment system. It’s one of the best interiors in the business and large and comfortable too for a family on the move. The automatic transmission adds to the ease of use also. Headroom is excellent in the rear as are the passenger footwells and a flat floor means its not too bad for the middle passenger either. The boot is large too at 497 litres.

The interior of the new Honda CR-V Hybrid
The interior of the new Honda CR-V Hybrid

Driving the 2019 Honda CR-V Hybrid

The 2019 Honda CR-V Hybrid uses a 2.0-litre petrol electric hybrid powertrain with 184hp and 175Nm of torque available in both the front wheel drive and four wheel drive model. The CR-V Hybrid puts its power to the road using a CVT automatic gearbox. The CR-V Hybrid is driven by Honda’s unique i-MMD technology, which intelligently and automatically switches between three driving modes – EV Drive, Hybrid Drive and Engine Drive – to optimise both performance and efficiency.

The Honda CR-V Hybrid is one of the most aerodynamic cars in its class and features Honda’s Active Shutter Grille system to improve fuel efficiency. The hybrid system is operated via buttons rather than a traditional gear lever – Drive, Park, Neutral and Reverse. There is also a Sport mode button for a more responsive throttle input. A short range EV mode can be selected when in town and it gives about 2 km of pure electric drive, depending on battery charge and driving conditions.

The new CR-V Hybrid is a dream to drive, with a very natural and smooth hybrid drive. It’s not the kind of SUV you want to throw into bends but the steering has still got decent feel and it's easy to place on the road. It's comfortable on the move and there's not too much transmission whine so it's a quiet and refined drive. It’s very quiet, well-insulated and refined. Over a week of driving my fuel consumption averaged at 6.5l/100km, and the car would make an excellent choice for urban families who need a large SUV for short, frequent trips.

Rear seating in the Honda CR-V
Rear seating in the Honda CR-V

What are my options?

Honda Ireland is selling the new CR-V Hybrid in four grades: Comfort, Lifestyle, Elegance and Executive. Standard equipment includes 18” alloys, keyless entry and start, emergency call, Honda Sensing suite of safety equipment including adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assist system, driver lumbar support, climate control, and LED headlights.

Lifestyle models (€40,500) add equipment including rain sensing wipers, electrically folding side mirrors, leather steering wheel, dual automatic climate control, front and rear parking sensors, rear view camera and Honda Connect with 7” touchscreen.

The Elegance model (€43,500) has leather upholstery, front heated seats, active cornering lights and ambient lighting.

The Executive model (€49,500) has an opening panoramic glass roof, head-up display, heated steering wheel, electric tailgate and rear heated seats.

Prices quoted here are for front wheel drive models and include Government grants and reductions for hybrids. All wheel drive (AWD) models are available from €43,500.

The model I was driving was a fully loaded CR-V Hybrid Executive AWD with a list price of €49,500.

Hybrid power seems to be a rather natural fit for the new CR-V. The refinement and efficiency of the hybrid powertrain is impressive.

We liked the new Honda CR-V when we tested it last year with the 1.5-litre turbo petrol. However, while the new CR-V Hybrid is more expensive to buy it feels like a better investment for the efficiency and refinement it offers. The new CR-V Hybrid retains all of the CR-V's natural attributes: that is it's a big, comfortable family SUV with an excellent, almost premium feeling cabin. They hybrid powertrain feels like a natural fit for the CR-V and it's easily one of the best SUVs you can buy right now.

The Honda CR-V Hybrid is available from €38,000
The Honda CR-V Hybrid is available from €38,000

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Honda CR-V Hybrid Executive AWD
Price:
€49,500 (Range from €38,000)
Engine: 2.0-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 
180 hp
Torque: 175 Nm
0-100km/h: 
9.2 seconds
Top speed: 180 km/h
Fuel economy:
5.5 l/100km
CO2 emissions: 
126 g/km
Motor tax: 
€270 per year

If you are looking for a hybrid SUV you might also like this review of the new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid.


The new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Review

The new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
The new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Caroline drives the new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid!

The renaissance underway at Toyota continues in the SUV class. Not only has the brand ditched diesel power from the RAV4 line-up - and indeed the rest of their passenger car range in favour of hybrid - but there’s also a new platform that promises better driving dynamics.

The Toyota RAV4 was the original ‘Sports Utility Vehicle’ (SUV). Now in its fifth generation, Toyota has reinvented the RAV4 upon the exciting new TNGA (Toyota New Global Architecture). In Ireland the new Toyota RAV4 is powered by a 2.5-litre hybrid powertrain so from herein, it shall be known as the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid!

Priced from €35,900, the new RAV4 Hybrid has a stylish new look. It is a car transformed in styling terms. It is an altogether leaner and more angular SUV than the model it replaces, with more than a hint of the utilitarian design of the larger Landcruiser. It has an identity! In Ireland, 17” alloys and LED headlamps come as standard, while Sport models are available with a bi-tone paint option.

The new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is available from €35,900
The new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is available from €35,900

The interior of the new Toyota RAV4

Inside there is a new interior that has stepped up in terms of quality and design. The dashboard has a clean horizontal design with soft touch materials and satin chrome features. There is a more ‘rugged’ feeling to the cabin of the RAV4 than say the new interiors of the Corolla family, with some large knobs to twist for the ventilation controls. It’s a marked improvement on the old car but it’s not the most stylish of the class. There is an 8” touchscreen in the centre of the dashboard, but the absence of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is a frustration.

However for buyers looking for a spacious family SUV, the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid really does deliver. The new car has a longer wheelbase to create more interior space and there is generous seating in the rear for three with a flat floor. The opening angle of the rear doors has been increased so getting into and out of the vehicle and access to child seats has been made easier. The boot is also now a very generous 542 litres with a wide opening making it a practical space to work with. There is a height-adjustable, two-level deck board that can be reversed when dirty items need to be carried. The rear seats have a 60:40 split-folding function and there are storage nets on each side of the boot.

The interior of the new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
The interior of the new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Equipment and specifications

Toyota Ireland is selling the new RAV4 in five grades: Aura, Luna, Sol, Sport and Platinum. Standard features on Aura models (from €35,900) will include 17” alloys, LED lights front and rear, dual exhaust tailpipes, black roof rails, electric parking brake, automatic lights, 7” multimedia system, dual zone climate control with rear vents, folding mirrors, driving mode selector and rear view camera. Toyota Safety Sense 2 is also standard, adding safety equipment such as automatic high beam, driver attention alert, eCall emergency call system, adaptive cruise control, pre-collision system with pedestrian and cyclist detection, road sign assist and lane trace assist.

The Luna model (from €37,590) will add dark grey painted upper front grille, silver front underrun, chrome interior trim, auto wipers, power tailgate, Smart Entry & Start, 8” multimedia system, front fog lamps, and front and rear parking sensors.

The Sol (from €39,590) adds 18” alloys, rear privacy glass, heated front seats, leather upholstery and satellite navigation.

Sport (from €42,240) adds 18” machine-finished alloy wheels, bitone roof, projector LED headlamps, painted lower bumpers and mouldings, painted front fog lamp surrounds, unique sport leather upholstery, black headlining, driver’s electric seat adjustment and lumbar support, and paddle gear shift.

Platinum (from €43,000) features include 18” alloy wheels, blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert, chrome outer door handles, leather seats, grey headlining, memory driver seat adjustment, luggage net and heated steering wheel.

Rear legroom in the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
Rear legroom in the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Driving the new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

The 2019 RAV4 has a new, improved 2.5-litre petrol electric hybrid powertrain with more power and greater efficiency. Front wheel drive models now have 218hp, while all wheel drive models have 222hp. Power is put to the road through a CVT automatic gearbox.

Toyota has also done much with the new platform to improve the driving experience. The new RAV4 has a more rigid body and lower centre of gravity with every component lighter and located lower down in the vehicle for improved comfort and driving dynamics. The response from the electric power steering has also been improved.

On the road, the new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid immediately feels more natural and balanced, handling confidently through corners with more fluid steering. It falls short of being one of the more engaging cars to drive in its class, but it's a pleasant and competent drive. You sit high in the RAV4 and the driving position has been improved so you feel "more at one with the car". It's comfortable over Irish roads and properly efficient now that Toyota has ditched diesel. Over a week of driving my fuel consumption averaged at 5.8l/100km, which is very good considering this is a large SUV! The only bugbear is the refinement of the vehicle with some wind whistle around the wing mirrors at high speeds on the motorway and the CVT transmission can get quite noisy when you accelerate hard, working better when gentle throttle is applied.

Toyota has transformed the RAV4 Hybrid into a stylish and contemporary SUV. The RAV4 Hybrid is a spacious SUV with a real individual and rugged look. With the absence of a diesel model, it's competing in a higher price bracket where standards are high. Inside there's a much improved interior, even if it is missing some sophistication. The efficiency of the vehicle is most surprising as Toyota has really delivered on creating a desirable and efficient hybrid large family SUV. The RAV4 Hybrid is a car you would be proud to see on your driveway!

The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is a stylish, spacious and efficient large family SUV!
The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is a stylish, spacious and efficient large family SUV!

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Sol
Price:
€39,590 (range from €35,900)
Engine: 2.5-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 
218 hp
Torque: 202 Nm
0-100km/h:
8.4 seconds
Top speed: 180 km/h
Fuel economy:
4.5 l/100km
CO2 emissions: 
105 g/km
Motor tax: 
€190 per year


The new Toyota Corolla Saloon

Toyota Corolla Saloon Review

The new Toyota Corolla Saloon
The new Toyota Corolla Saloon

Caroline drives the new Toyota Corolla Saloon!

It’s fair to say that the Toyota Corolla Saloon is one of Ireland’s best loved cars. But even legends like the Corolla saloon have to move with the times. Indeed, there’s something of a revolution going on at Toyota since Toyota Global President, Akio Toyoda, declared “no more boring cars!” from the brand. At that means you too, Corolla!

The revolution is partly down to Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) that is underpinning a whole new generation of models including the RAV4, Camry and Corolla.

There’s also been a little housekeeping going on at Toyota. The Toyota Auris name has now been discontinued. Instead a new family of compact models - a hatchback, estate and saloon – will all wear the Corolla badge.

The new Corolla Saloon also debuts a hybrid powertrain for the first time, which is good news for Irish buyers. Toyota’s 1.8-litre hybrid powertrain has been significantly revised and improved to make for a smoother and more efficient drive.

The Toyota Corolla Saloon is available from €25,685
The Toyota Corolla Saloon is available from €25,685

What's new for the Toyota Corolla Saloon?

In looks alone, this new Corolla Saloon is a handsome beast with a wide and low stance. At the front the styling is a small bit different to the hatchback and estate with a unique LED light signature, while around the rear it’s as sharp as a Samurai sword!

Inside the Toyota Corolla has an all new interior with improvements in design, quality and technology. There are plenty of soft touch materials and a number of technology features including the digital instrument panel and central touchscreen for the infotainment. However the absence of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto from the main touchscreen is a bit disappointing.

The new Toyota Corolla Saloon is priced from €25,685 with a 1.6-litre petrol engine, while the hybrid is available from €26,820. There are four trim levels - Aura, Luna, Luna Sport and Sol - with standard equipment including 16” alloys, LED headlamps/fog lamps, 8” Toyota Touch, rear view camera, dual zone climate control, and Toyota Safety Sense with adaptive cruise control and lane trace assist.

My test car was a Luna Sport Hybrid with a list price of €29,995. Equipment included 17” alloys, chrome window frame, rear privacy glass, rain sensor, Smart Entry & Start, navigation, textured chrome inserts to the interior, grey lower dashboard, ambient lighting, heated front seats and driver lumbar support.

The boon for the Corolla Saloon is that it sits on a longer wheelbase than the hatchback. That means that it is generously sized in the rear for carrying passengers. The car feels spacious and airy for its class. At 471 litres, the boot is only outsized by the Corolla Touring Sports and the opening is wide enough for a saloon also making the space more usable.

The interior of the new Toyota Corolla Saloon
The interior of the new Toyota Corolla Saloon

Driving the new Toyota Corolla Saloon

On the road the longer wheelbase also pays dividends for comfort. It’s no exaggeration to say that the Corolla Saloon is very comfortable and relaxing to drive. The hybrid powertrain has 122hp and offers smooth power delivery and decent acceleration. Give it too much throttle and the CVT gearbox does protest with more transmission whine, but at a relaxed pace, this car just wafts along effortlessly. It handles and steers with ease also. Over a few days of driving my fuel consumption averaged at 4.9l/100km while motor tax is €180 per year.

The new Toyota Corolla Saloon is the more classic and traditional member of the new Corolla family, but it feels much more modern and sophisticated than the car it replaces. A sharp new look for the outside and a new interior bring the Corolla Saloon into a new era, but the traditional Corolla values of comfort and space remain.

The Corolla Saloon is the one for ‘big car’ comfort and refinement, now with hybrid power and efficiency!

The Toyota Corolla Saloon scores for comfort and space
The Toyota Corolla Saloon scores for comfort and space

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Toyota Corolla Saloon Hybrid Luna Sport
Price:
€29,995 (range from €25,685)
Engine: 1.8-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 
122 hp
Torque: 200 Nm
0-100km/h: 
11 seconds
Top speed: 180 km/h
Fuel economy:
4.3 l/100km
CO2 emissions: 
98 g/km
Motor tax: 
€180 per year


The new Toyota Corolla Hatchback Hybrid

2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback Hybrid Review

The new Toyota Corolla Hatchback Hybrid
The new Toyota Corolla Hatchback Hybrid

Caroline drives the new Toyota Corolla Hatchback!

Late last year, Toyota Ireland promised a ‘hybrid invasion’ in 2019. It’s not surprising they were feeling confident – this year new cars from the Toyota brand have been arriving thick and fast, including the new generation of the RAV4 Hybrid and the return of the Camry.

But 2019 has also seen the arrival of a new generation of the Toyota Corolla, one of Ireland’s best-loved cars. The Corolla family – hatchback, saloon and estate – are all available now as hybrids. It was time I took this new Toyota Corolla Hybrid for a test drive!

Ever since Toyota Global President, Akio Toyoda, declared "no more boring cars!" from the brand, there has been something of a renaissance underway at Toyota. That’s thanks to Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) that is underpinning this new generation of models.

Available from €24,380 with a 1.2-litre petrol engine or from €26,370 as a petrol electric, self-charging hybrid, the new Toyota Corolla Hatchback is pitched as the compact, sporty one within the new Corolla family. Certainly, the new Corolla Hatchback has undergone a terrific makeover. The new Corolla Hatchback is longer and lower than the Auris Hatchback it replaces, with a snug, sporty stance on the road. Exclusive to the segment, there are also four optional bi-tone colour schemes available from launch. They combine the body colour with a metallic black finish to the roof, roof front and rear pillars, and the door mirrors.

The Toyota Corolla Hatchback range goes on sale from €24,,380 in Ireland
The Toyota Corolla Hatchback range goes on sale from €24,,380 in Ireland

Equipment and interior

The new Toyota Corolla Hatchback is offered in Ireland in three grades: Aura, Luna (from €26,995), Luna Sport (from €29,620) and Sol (from €30,115). Standard equipment includes 16″ alloys, Toyota Safety Sense including adaptive cruise control and lane trace assist, LED headlights/fog lights and 8″ Toyota Touch. My Corolla 1.8 Hybrid Luna Sport model had a list price of €29,620 and features included rear view camera, Toyota Touch® 2 multimedia system, bi beam LED headlamps, LED front fog lamps, 17” black machined alloys, black contrasting roof, black roof spoiler, rear privacy glass, red dashboard trim and blue ambient lighting.

The design and quality of the interior of the new Toyota Corolla has improved almost as dramatically as the exterior styling of the car. There are plenty of soft touch materials and a number of technology features including the digital instrument panel and central touchscreen for the infotainment. However, technology buffs may be disappointed with the lack of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The Corolla Hatchback will seat five with reasonable accommodation for the compact class. The Hatchback sits on a slightly shorter wheelbase to the Saloon and Touring Sports, so if rear space is a priority, buyers will appreciate the more spacious feeling in the back of those models. The boot is about average for the segment at 361 litres.

The interior of the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback
The interior of the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback

On the road in the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback

Toyota has made much of the newly adopted Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) GA-C platform and rightly so. Key concerns for engineers were to make this Corolla safer and more engaging to drive than anything that has come before. The GA-C platform guarantees a more rewarding driving experience thanks to a centre of gravity that is lowered by 10 mm, a multi-link rear suspension fitted as standard across the model range, and a 60% more rigid body shell through the use of high strength steel as reinforcement in key areas. According to Toyota, these contribute to better handling and stability without compromising ride and comfort, as well as reducing high frequency vibration for an increased feeling of quality.

This new generation of the Corolla uses a revised 1.8-litre hybrid powertrain putting out 122hp. However, the hatchback is also available with a more high performance 2.0-litre hybrid powertrain with 178hp. It retails from €32,915.

I was immediately impressed by the smoothness and refinement of the new Toyota Corolla 1.8-litre Hybrid on the road. The hybrid powertrain means that the car uses a CVT automatic gearbox, but Toyota has considerably improved the refinement of the transmission and also invested in better cabin insulation.

Rear legroom in the new Corolla Hatchback
Rear legroom in the new Corolla Hatchback

How efficient is it?

The Hatchback feels agile and dynamic on the road with fluid and direct steering responses and good body control through corners. Over a week of driving the hybrid delivered fuel consumption of 4.5/100km, while low emissions mean that motor tax is €180 per year. Around town the hybrid frequently dips into EV mode, which makes this hybrid a very efficient solution for drivers who do short commutes and plenty of town and city driving. On the motorway at high speeds, the Corolla will become less efficient but again it has been markedly improved in these circumstances, as seen in my overall average fuel consumption that was rated with about 300 km of motorway driving.

The Toyota Corolla has been one of the most anticipated new cars of 2019. It’s now a stylish and desirable hatchback on par with rivals in terms of interior finish, technology and its ability to engage the driver. Rear legroom is a little tighter compared to the Saloon and Touring Sports, but the Corolla is dubbed as the sporty one and the shorter wheelbase does make it feel more dynamic on the road. Toyota has also improved the hybrid powertrain and from my time driving the car, there are certainly savings to be made in terms of efficiency, particularly for urban drivers. There is a lot riding on this new generation of one of Ireland’s best loved cars, but the new Corolla Hatchback has been transformed.

The Toyota Corolla Hatchback Hybrid is a stylish and efficient compact car
The Toyota Corolla Hatchback Hybrid is a stylish and efficient compact car

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Toyota Corolla Hatchback Luna Sport
Price:
€29,610 (from €24,380)
Engine: 1.8-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 
122 hp
Torque: 142 Nm
0-100km/h: 
10.9 seconds
Top speed: 180 km/h
Claimed fuel economy:
3.3 l/100km
CO2 emissions: 
83g/km
Motor tax: 
€180 per year


The new Toyota Corolla Touring Sports

2019 Toyota Corolla Touring Sports Hybrid Review

The new Toyota Corolla Touring Sports
The new Toyota Corolla Touring Sports

Caroline drives the 2019 Toyota Corolla Touring Sports!

The Toyota Corolla is one of Ireland’s best loved cars and is now in its 12th generation. Ever since Toyota Global President, Akio Toyoda, declared "no more boring cars!" from the brand, there has been something of a renaissance underway at Toyota.

That’s thanks to Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) that is underpinning a whole new generation of models including C-HR and Prius, and now in 2019, Camry, RAV4 and the new Toyota Corolla family.

The new Toyota Corolla is now available in Ireland as a saloon, hatchback and estate (‘Touring Sports’). I recently took the Corolla Touring Sports Hybrid for a test drive. Available from €28,420, the Corolla Touring Sports comes exclusively as a petrol electric, self-charging hybrid. In this new generation of Corolla it uses a revised 1.8-litre hybrid powertrain putting out 122hp.

The Toyota Corolla Touring Sports is available from €28,420
The Toyota Corolla Touring Sports is available from €28,420

Sporty and stylish family car

In the metal, the new Corolla really makes a style statement. The Touring Sports is particularly successful in my opinion. In fact, the hatchback, saloon and estate have all been given an individual look because the new platform gave the designers the freedom to do that.

The Touring Sports is available in the entry Luna trim and in Sol trim with a bit more gear (from €31,990). But even the entry model comes exceptionally well equipped with 16” alloys, LED headlamps/fog lamps, 8” Toyota Touch, rear view camera, dual zone climate control, and Toyota Safety Sense with adaptive cruise control and lane trace assist.

For the extra spend, Sol adds 17” alloys, a chrome window frame, rear privacy glass, rain sensor, Smart Entry & Start, navigation, textured chrome inserts to the interior, grey lower dashboard, ambient lighting, heated front seats and driver lumbar support.

The interior of the new Toyota Corolla Touring Sports
The interior of the new Toyota Corolla Touring Sports

Inside the 2019 Toyota Corolla Touring Sports

The design and quality of the interior of the new Toyota Corolla has improved dramatically. There are plenty of soft touch materials and a number of technology features including the digital instrument panel and central touchscreen for the infotainment, though technology buffs will be frustrated by the absence of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The interior of the car is nicely spacious too with decent accommodation for the compact class. The estate is the obvious choice in this new trio of Corollas if you need more space and a bigger boot. The boot aperture opens wide for easy loading with a low, flat load lip. At 598 litres, there’s also 237 litres more boot volume than in the hatchback.

Boot space in the Toyota Corolla Touring Sports
Boot space in the Toyota Corolla Touring Sports

Driving the 2019 Toyota Corolla Touring Sports

Toyota has made much of the newly adopted Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) GA-C platform and rightly so. Key concerns for engineers were to make this Corolla safer and more engaging to drive than anything that has come before.

The GA-C platform promises a more rewarding driving experience thanks to a centre of gravity that is lowered by 10 mm, a multi-link rear suspension fitted as standard across the model range, and a 60% more rigid body shell through the use of high strength steel as reinforcement in key areas. According to Toyota, these contribute to better handling and stability without compromising ride and comfort, as well as reducing high frequency vibration for an increased feeling of quality.

I was immediately impressed by the smoothness and refinement of the new Toyota Corolla Touring Sports on the road. The hybrid powertrain means that the car uses a CVT automatic gearbox, but Toyota has considerably improved the refinement of the transmission and also invested in better cabin insulation.

The Toyota Corolla Touring Sports is a stylish and practical estate car
The Toyota Corolla Touring Sports is a stylish and practical estate car

How fuel-efficient is the new Corolla?

The Touring Sports has adequate power for driving and overtaking manoeuvres. However, as a hybrid it really needs to deliver on fuel efficiency. Over a week of driving my fuel consumption averaged at 5.6 l/100 km, and I saw a return of over 60 mpg on some journeys. The hybrid system works particularly well in town and promotes a more relaxed mode of driving that helps to deliver on efficiency. Low emissions mean that motor tax is €180 per year.

There has been much anticipation for this new generation of the Corolla. But until we drive it we can never be sure if it will deliver on all that is promised. However I’m happy to report that the new Toyota Corolla has improved considerably in just about every way, and it’s also got super competitive again in the compact class.

The 2019 Toyota Corolla Touring Sports is a very handsome vehicle and the most practical member of the new Corolla family. It's genuinely efficient, spacious and pleasant to drive making it a great family car.

No more boring cars!

The 2019 Toyota Corolla is a car transformed
The 2019 Toyota Corolla is a car transformed

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Toyota Corolla Touring Sports Sol
Price:
€31,990 (from €28,420)
Engine: 1.8-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 
122 hp
Torque: 142 Nm
0-100km/h: 
11.1 seconds
Top speed: 180 km/h
Fuel economy:
4.5 – 5.0 l/100km
CO2 emissions: 
87g/km
Motor tax: 
€180 per year