South Africa’s favourite compact sedan returns, smarter than ever

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Future-proofing the world’s most popular sedan: The new Toyota Corolla

It’s not surprising that South Africans love the Corolla. And just about everyone has their own Corolla story. As one of the world’s most popular automotive nameplates, the Corolla has no doubt been a part of everyone’s lives. Granted these days, there are a plethora of choices available to buyers, other than the Corolla, so it’s entirely plausible that the modern generation doesn’t have the amazing Corolla stories that we had back in the 1980s and 1990s. But with the latest Corolla, Toyota is aiming to give an entirely new generation their start and get them to start creating their own Corolla stories.

Despite debuting last year in certain markets, it took Toyota South Africa a while to introduce its 12th-generation Corolla sedan locally. The Corolla hatch debuted locally last year and garnered plenty of praise, and now it’s the sedan’s turn. Compared to the model it replaces, the new Corolla looks refreshingly sporty. The front end looks distinctive with its massive intakes and honeycomb grille, while attractive 18-inch alloys give it an athletic stance. The rear is also an improvement on its predecessor. On the whole, the Corolla sedan follows the same aggressive styling that we saw on the Corolla hatch, the C-HR crossover, the new RAV4, and the recently unveiled Fortuner.

The Corolla rides on Toyota’s New Generation Architecture, dubbed TNGA, which it shares with many of the brand’s latest offerings, including the Prius and the RAV4. Dimensionally, the new sedan is a bigger offering than the model it replaces, standing 10mm longer at 4,630mm in length, 5mm wider to measure 1,780mm wide, yet sits 25mm lower to the ground. Toyota has also stressed that the front overhang is shorter, and the rear overhang longer; giving the Corolla a more wedge-shaped, sporty silhouette when viewed from the side.

Many would describe the 11th generation Corolla’s interior as being dated compared to the latest generation. Toyota went for a very minimalist look for its interior, something seen with the C-HR crossover. There are only a handful of buttons for basic controls, such as those for the climate control system, whilst everything else is controllable via the centrally-mounted touchscreen infotainment system, which features both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. The system is very user friendly and easy to navigate through. The split-leather seats meanwhile are sportily bolstered and offer plenty of lateral support. There is adequate legroom, and headroom, front and rear; however we wouldn’t recommend squeezing three 6-foot tall adults into the rear. Boot space meanwhile stands at 470-litres and can be expanded by dropping the rear seats.

Whereas previous Corolla was available in a variety of models and trim levels, Toyota South Africa has opted to condense the new range, offering just three variants. These consist of an entry-level XS, and the flagship XR, which is available with either a manual transmission or a CVT. Apart from trim, the XS uses a different engine to the XR. The former draws power from a naturally aspirated 1.8-litre four-cylinder which produces 104kw and 171 Nm, and its paired exclusively with a CVT. The XR derivative features a 2.0-litre four-cylinder motor that produces 125kw and 200 Nm; and is available with either a 6-speed manual or a 10-speed CVT, with which Toyota claims average fuel economy of 6.5L/100kms and 6.0L/100kms respectively. Interestingly, the 1.2-litre turbo petrol engine from the Corolla hatch is absent from the sedan range.

Aside from the drivetrains, the specification for the XS and XR differ quite a bit. The XS model gets a start/stop button, cruise control, an electrically-adjustable driver’s seat, automatic climate control, LED headlights and taillights, a reverse camera, a touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality, voice control, ISOFIX rear seat mounts, ABS with EBD and brake assist, Hill Assist Control and Vehicle Stability Control. The XR builds on this with Bi-LED headlights, heated side mirrors, keyless entry, 18-inch alloy wheels, an electro-chromatic rearview mirror, steering-mounted paddle shifters for the CVT, and most importantly, Toyota’s Safety Sense System which includes automatic high-beams on the LED lights, Blind Spot Monitor, Lane Departure Alert, Pre-Crash Activation, and Adaptive All-Speed Cruise Control.

The new Corolla will no doubt follow it’s the footsteps of models before it. While the world gravitates to SUVs and crossovers, the dependability, build-quality, and resale value of the Corolla will no doubt stand it in good stead, right until the days of the family sedan near its end. And if that day does even come, you can rest assured that there will still be Corollas driving around, long after other sedans have stopped.

The Corolla Sedan range is priced from R380 200 for the 1.8 XS, whilst the 2.0 XR is priced at R420 500 and R433 700 for the manual and CVT derivatives respectively. All come standard with a 3-year/100 000 km warranty and a 6-service/90 000 km service plan. 


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