If you look up the botanic meaning of "Corolla" it will come up with a flower, well it's actually the name given to the petals which surround the reproductive parts of the flower, almost as a shield against the elements. Something which personifies the car almost to the T for me and for many locals as well. There's just something about the Toyota Corolla, that holds a dear place in most South African motorists heart. Whether it is due to it being assembled on our doorstep at Toyota's plant in Durban or the fact that it's proven to be over the decades as one of the most reliable and affordable family sedans for us South Africans on the market, whatever it is, every Corolla that rolled off the line at the plant in Prospecton has had major success not only locally but internationally as well. In fact, I myself own a Toyota Corolla, bought it brand new as my first car and it's still going strong almost as the day I took delivery of it, so that's why when I took the keys to test out this all new Corolla, it was almost nostalgic that I was about to drive a newer version of something that became a part of my life all those years ago.
The Corolla was never a car to win any awards for styling, with it mostly being conservative and practical but with this new shape, I have to admit that whilst we're so used to the boring aspects that relate to the car over the years, the designers have made significant effort to not only make this new spec Corolla look good but also confiscated as well. It didn't take much mind you, minor details which radically changed the look of the car for the better from its launch model. For starters the front end has been redesigned with longer sleeker headlights which follows the swooping grille of the car and matches well with the chrome detailing. The front diffuser has taken a more masculine look with vertical lines making the car look broader. Nothing much has changed in the rear end apart from the indicator and reverse lights tying into the chrome boot lid.
I had the diesel derivative engine in the Prestige package, in previous models the D4D was a 2 liter engine, now with turbo technology, Toyota has developed a 1.4 liter D4D engine which blew me away. While having the 6 speed manual gearbox did help, I found the car really responsive but not torque heavy like most other diesels on the market. The huge touch screen display gave a nice feature look at your performance and economy when driving, which assisted me in easing off the pedal to achieve the best possible fuel economy. Gear changes were smooth and the clutch was super responsive. But overall for a 55L tank averaging about 750km on one tank, I was very impressed.
As far as comfort goes, you can't really beat a Corolla, the cabin space is big and the seats super comfortable. I'm glad to see the same high quality of leather being used in the Corolla as used in the Fortuner and other models. The cabin it self is a really nice place to be, especially for the driver, as mentioned before the car does come with a huge touch screen multimedia system with DVD and Bluetooth Audio and telephonic capabilities. The steering wheel controls are a bit different to the previous generation models and I feel the older ones were better, there is more functionality for these but they just feel a bit cheap. For the passengers at the back, they can look forward to quite a comfortable journey as well, plenty of room for 2 adults and you can squeeze in a 3rd if need be. I was a bit disappointed with the aircon, with it not being climate control and the usual turn the knob style system.
When it comes to storage in Toyota sedans, there is nothing to be worried about as there is always ample space. The new Corolla is just the same, with a massive boot which has a capacity of 452L and also has a full size spare wheel below and tools. On the inside it has a large cubby and a storage box between the driver and the passenger as well as below the aircon panel for small stuff such as credit cards and loose change.
It's hard not to like the Corolla, especially this new one, while it falls short on certain aspects you have to realise what market its targeting and with the pricing, that market is getting a whole lot of stuff for the price they're paying. When I first saw the price of this model I was taken back thinking it was a bit stiff but if you have to compare it to alternatives on the market which match the D4D Corolla, there is really little to chose from. I really like the fact that Toyota have given the car a premium feel with small touches that really enhance the car and can confidently say this will do harm to the legacy that previous Corolla's have already built.
1.4 liter Diesel 4 cylinder
6 speed manual