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Toyota’s entry-level Corolla Ascent Sport has no right to be this exciting

20 Mar 2019

WHEN Toyota released its AE86 Corolla in 1984, I doubt anyone could have predicted that thirty years later, it would have become one of the most highly lusted-after vehicles in Japan’s automotive history.
On the surface it didn’t have much going for it as a sporting proposition. It wasn’t much to look at, featured next-to-no creature comforts and was powered by a low-output naturally-aspirated twin-cam motor.
It was ‘just a Corolla’, after all.
The range-topping AE86 Sprinter had some success in various motorsport racing circuits, and the standard fifth-generation platform – like all Corollas before and after – was a hot-seller as a reliable, grocery-getting passenger car.
But unlike most old Toyotas carting around trying P-platers and the elderly, some ‘Rollas from that era now garner the more money in the used-car market than they did when they were new.
While low in power, the 1.6-litre engines were spritely and free-revving and rewarded spirited driving. It’s front-engine rear-drive layout, manual transmission and sub-1000kg kerb weight made for sharp and tail-happy handling, and its under-stressed mechanicals meant it could be driven hard without racking up scary maintenance bills.
With last year’s release of the latest-generation Corolla, it’s possible that Toyota engineers have done it again, with the entry-level Ascent Sport – in particular – providing the same kind of thrills as its mid-80s predecessor.
Here’s why...
Model release date: 1 August 2018

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