When I was telling people what car I would be reviewing next, by the time I said Toyota Corolla they were cutting me off saying “sorry”. They were not even fussed that it was the hatch or a hybrid. The Corolla name comes with a stigma and prejudgment of being slow, boring and ugly. I must say when I heard Corolla I did not think I would be getting a car that you would put on the cover of a magazine or use to destroy Nürburgring lap times. But Drive Life try to avoid prejudgment of any car that we review so we can give them the most impartial review we can.
On the day I went to pick the Corolla from the dealer they were tight for car parks out the front so I was left waiting out the front while someone went around to their rear carpark and get the car. When it came around the corner and up to the front of the dealership I was a little taken aback by the color, it is bright orange, or “Inferno” as Toyota call it. At first I thought well I am going to stand out like a sore thumb, but after a day or two the color grew on me and I started to like it, it’s something different from the normal duller colors that can be out there.
I jumped in and got myself sorted, adjusting seat and steering wheel and hooking my phone up to the bluetooth and I was ready to go. I pressed the start/stop button and everything goes off. *Facepalm* It of course being a hybrid there was no engine noise which is normally my first indication a car is on. Pressing the start/stop again I moved off with the low whirring of the electric motor
The first thing I noticed was that these seats were soft, I dropped an inch or two further than I thought I would and although nice and comfy two things came to mind that worried me. First being will the car feel like I am driving an arm chair and I will slosh around on the seat, and secondly how will this hold up over time, will the sponginess last over time or quickly deflate? Only time will tell on the second but after a bit of driving I found the seats to be quite good, they held you in place but were not like bucket seats and you could easily travel a fair distance in comfort.
The second attention grabber when you sit in is the infotainment display, a 7” inch touchscreen display surrounded by touch capacitive buttons which is set on and surrounded by gloss black plastic. Any OCD car detailer’s worst nightmare, it is just one giant fingerprint magnet that if you manage to get clean will be dirty again in seconds. I also felt it did not fit with the feel of the rest of the interiour apart from a small bit on the drive selector it was the only bit of plain shiny plastic in the car everything else was either matt, textured or had a design on it. The infotainment itself was good although a little sluggish, when you pressed on a button there would be a split second delay but once you got familiar with the layout of all the buttons you would have your finger over the next button you wanted to press even before it had changed the screen.
The rest of the cabin was very nice and comfortable. The instrument cluster was also quite nice with eco indicator on the left in place of your standard rev counter and speed on the right. In between the two you had a small display that could show you current and average fuel consumption, cruising range, average vehicle speed, driving time, Eco driving indicator zone display and outside temperature display.
Being a hybrid your driving style does change a little, almost if you want it to or not. You become conscious of the eco indicator and want to keep it the green or charging areas. You think further ahead with your driving knowing that if you know you will be coming to a stop for traffic or at red lights then you lift a lot earlier and try to coast it to a stop in an attempt to gain as much regenerative braking back and charge up your battery, rather than coming to a quick stop and wasting that energy. You also have the added B selection on the gear selector, B means engine braking but what it is actually doing is putting more pressure on the regen brakes to gain more energy back but to the driver feels like you are dropping a gear to avail of engine braking. I found this great as I was able to put the car in B and let it coast down the Ngaio Gorge, charging the car the whole way down the hill but it was also strong enough to keep it below the speed limit, essentially (if you ignore the energy used to get up the hill) free charging.
Now speaking of gears this is definitely one gripe I had with this car, the gear selector. It took me a while to get used to and just did not feel intuitive at first, I guess with more time with it you would get more used to it. I think the thing the bugged me the most is that it centres itself after each selection. So you would push it right and down to get D but then it would spring back to centre and then to put it in P was another button off to the top right of the selector all together.
The other thing that surprised me about it is that neither do it or any of the gear letters light up at night. There is a gear indicator/map below the eco indicator but if in a new car and you are checking/looking to see what gear you’re in, instinct makes you look down at it and not and the cluster. Again something I would probably get used to if I was living with the car for a longer period of time.
I have to say that I did not really notice the hybrid system to be much of a hindrance or even notice it at all really. I would quite often look down to see that the EV light (showing that you are in electric only mode) to be off and I had not heard the engine start up or jolt the car forward or anything. In fact it almost adds a little bit by the electric engine giving you the initial instant torque to fill the gap until the petrol engine could kick in if you put the foot down, a feature mostly found in today’s hypercars. It also handled the road very well being soft enough to not feel every bump but not so soft that you would feel you might fall out if you were a little aggressive in your cornering. Its very good for zipping around town and with the additional aid of the reversing camera a breeze to park in those small inner city multi story car parks.
However try as I might in playing my eco driving game I could not get it down to the quoted 4.1L/100km fuel efficiency. The best I could achieve was 5.2L/100km but my average was normally between 5.3L/100km and 5.4L/100km.
What it’s up against
I have had to add a few other fuel efficient cars into our comparison list as there are just no other hybrid hatchbacks out there except Toyota’s other offering the Prius C.
|Brand / Model||Engine||Power||Fuel L/100km||Price Highest to Lowest|
|Vokswagen Golf TDI HighLine||2.0L Diesel Turbo||110Kw||4.4L/100km||$42,490|
|Mini Cooper D||1.5L Diesel||85Kw||3.5L/100km||$35,900|
|Toyota Corolla Hatch Hybrid||1.8L Hybrid petrol||100Kw combined||4.1L/100km||$38,490|
|Toyota Prius C||1.5L Petrol||73.6Kw||3.9L/100km||$33,990|
|Volkwagen Polo TSI||1.2L Petrol Tsi||160Kw||4.7L/100km||$26,990|
|Ford Fiesta Eco Boost||1.0L EcoBoost Petrol||92Kw||5.3L/100km||$25,490|
|Honda Jazz||1.3L Petrol||73Kw||5.1L/100km||$23,700|
What do we think?
The Toyota Corolla Hatch Hybrid is a really good, small, inner-city hatch that can get you great bang for your buck at the petrol station. Even when out taking photos of the car I had 2-3 people come up to me and say that they liked the car and wanted to know what it was and more about it.
It comes with everything the modern driver would need like bluetooth and multimedia device connectivity voice activation, keyless entry and is more than zippy enough to duck in and out of streets in a busy city. I was glad I did not prejudge this car and assume it would be just another “Corolla” as I quite enjoyed for the time I had it
Rating – Chevron rating 4 out of 5
|Vehicle Type||Hybrid Hatchback|
|Starting Price||$ 38,490|
|Tested Price||$ 38,490|
|Engine||1.8L 4 cylinder Petrol Hybrid|
|0 – 100 kph||N/A|
|Length x Width x Height||4330mm X 1760mm X1475mm|
|ANCAP Safety Ratings||5 Star|