The Toyota Corolla is the world’s best selling car, and for generations, Toyota has stayed conservative, trying to keep the Corolla’s formula relatively unchanged. After all, why fix what isn’t broken, right? In the midst of sportier, more aspirational competitors, Toyota has gone all out and has made the Corolla a substantially sportier car than it used to be, and it first debuts the nameplate’s sportier direction in the form of a hatchback.
While the sedan will eventually be released, Toyota has decided to show the Corolla’s newfound attitude in hatchback form as it debuts today at the 2018 New York Auto Show. Riding on the company’s TNGA C platform, the new Corolla is 60% stiffer and has a 2 cm low center of gravity than before. While that may not sound like much, it pays dividends to the car’s newfound sporty handling, aided by the fact that it now uses an independent multi-link rear suspension, replacing the torsion beam rear suspension found in current Corollas. Wrapping that new and more dynamic platform is an equally new and dynamic exterior design that perfectly matches the Corolla’s newfound sportiness. Toyota engineers concentrated on a theme called “Shooting Robust” to create a more dynamic and expressive Corolla. Toyota says the “Corolla Hatchback is a meticulously mixed cocktail of emotive lines, creases, and surfaces”.
J-shaped LED headlights with LED daytime running lights give the Corolla a distinct look on the road, while its front-end styling with its rounded nose and trapezoidal-shaped under grille “is a further evolution of Toyota’s Under Priority Catamaran and Keen Look design philosophies, both of which emphasize Corolla Hatchback’s increased width” says Toyota. The Corolla’s hatch, which is now made from TSOP (Toyota Super Olefin Polymer) and ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene), is not only light, which aids fuel efficiency, but is also moved by 14 degrees compared to its Corolla iM predecessor. The rear full-LED tail lamps feature a diffusing inner lens designed to “highlight the hatchback’s stout stance”. Meanwhile, the rear bumper styling “echoes the front’s Under Priority Catamaran design with its thin lower lip and chrome diffuser”.
Toyota describes the Corolla’s interior as “Sensuous Minimalism”, a point that’s driven clearly with the car’s cleaner, less cluttered interior. A mix of matte and shiny finishes, combined with soft padded surfaces and contrast stitching details are designed “to best accentuate a premium look and feel”. Toyota’s Entune 3.0 takes center stage, which features Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa connectivity. The Toyota Corolla is also the first Toyota to feature a 7-inch TFT LCD digital instrument cluster, which displays vehicle information, turn-by-turn navigation, and various vehicle settings. The Toyota Corolla comes well-equipped, at least for the US-market, being fitted with a single-zone climate control, electronic parking brake, three-door passive entry system, and automatic up down windows on all four doors.
The Toyota Corolla is powered by Toyota’s all-new M20A-FKS 2.0 liter Dynamic-Force inline-4 engine, which features direct-injection, Dual VVT-i, and Dual VVTi-E. It utilizes a long stroke design, and a high 13:1 compression ratio that’s similar to Mazda’s Skyactiv-G engines. Despite it’s 2.0 liter displacement, Toyota says it weighs less than the previous 1.8 liter inline-4 engine, yet produces more power. Power is sent through the front wheels via a 6-speed i-MT (intelligent manual transmission) or a Dynamic-Shfit CVT, which has 10-speed simulated gears and a launch gear. The launch gear is meant to assist the CVT while crawling or when launching the car from a complete stop, making the Corolla accelerate and respond quicker off the line.
As with many modern cars nowadays, the Corolla, at least in the North American market, comes as standard with Toyota Safety Sense 2.0, which includes Pre-Collision Detection, Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning with Steering Assist, Automatic High Beams, and new for TSS 2.0, Lane Trace Assist, which can let the car drive semi-autonomously on the expressway by tracing lane markings, and Road Sign Assist, which displays the traffic signs on the car’s 7.0-inch TFT digital instrument cluster. Toyota Safety Star also comes as standard on the RAV4, which includes Enhanced Vehicle Stability Control, Traction Control, and Smart Stop Technology. Optionally, features like Blind Spot Warning can be added as an option.
Toyota has not yet announced when the car will go on sale. The sedan will also be coming soon, shortly after the hatchback’s launch. As the Philippine market is a generally conservative market for hatchbacks, it remains to be seen whether Toyota will be offering the Corolla as a hatchback here.