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Next-generation Toyota Corolla hatched

Hatch match: An artist's impression of the next Toyota Corolla hatch that will be unveiled at the Australian International Motor Show in Sydney this October.

Toyota’s all-important redesigned small car takes a sportier, sharper-edged turn

12 Jun 2012

SHARPER styling and new technology will headline Toyota’s crucial 11th-generation Corolla hatch, which will carry the Australian market leader’s small-car hopes following its public debut at the Sydney motor show in October.

With news that a new-generation sedan version will not appear here until late 2013, the all-new five-door version will lead the fight against a raft of new and forthcoming rivals including the Mazda3 SkyActiv, Hyundai i30, Ford’s Thai-sourced Focus and the reborn Nissan Pulsar.

The all-new Corolla hatch is now taking shape overseas as Toyota prepares to issue first official details of the car – sold as Auris overseas – in the next few weeks ahead of its world public premiere at the Paris motor show in September.

Leaked brochure shots from Japan which appeared a fortnight ago match earlier spy shots that indicate the car will have a more angular design and lower stance than the current model, with narrow, swept-back headlights, a more defined shoulder line and longer horizontal tail-lights.

A set of German-registered patent drawings purporting to show the all-new Auris/Corolla hatch also surfaced in Europe last week, although these appear to be based on the Dear Qin concept that made its world premiere at the Beijing motor show in April.

Nonetheless, there are strong similarities between the Qin hatch concept, the leaked brochure pictures and photographs of the new model in development, placing the show car as a precursor to the forthcoming Corolla hatchback.

8 center imageFrom top: Toyota Dear Qin concept Axio sedan current Corolla hatch.

Revealed alongside a sedan version, the Dear Qin five-door was described as part of a new ‘global-strategic’ program designed to attract more buyers to the Toyota brand at the entry level.

These are clearly younger customers, and the sporting overtones of the Qin cars look to have carried through – albeit toned down a little – to the production model.

While the new Corolla hatch will likely use a carry-over platform, overseas reports claim the car will be around 30mm longer and deliver more headroom, legroom and cargo space, despite being around 55mm lower and the same width as the outgoing model.

The leaked images show an interior with sharper surfaces and more chrome detailing, while quality and tactility is expected to be improved to match top-selling European models like the Focus and Volkswagen Golf.

Although the Corolla is one of the most popular small cars in Australia – sitting behind only the segment-leading Mazda3 this year – it was outsold by the Volkswagen Golf by more than five-to-one in Europe in the first quarter of this year, according to JATO Dynamics.

Reports indicate the front seats will be positioned four centimetres lower than before, giving a sportier driving feel, while the gearlever will move to the traditional position on the transmission tunnel, rather than the current model’s higher position on the dash.

The images also confirm that the new Japanese-market Corolla Axio revealed last month in sedan and wagon forms is substantially different to the hatch and sedan versions we will see Down Under.

The brochure refers to a CVT (continuously variable transmission), which could replace the current Corolla’s old-school four-speed torque converter auto, although the current 100kW 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol engine looks set to soldier on, albeit with performance and efficiency upgrades including the addition of a fuel-saving idle-stop system.

The current six-speed manual is likely to continue alongside the CVT, possibly with higher gearing to improve economy.

A 2.0-litre turbo-diesel will continue in Europe, but will be replaced in 2014 by a BMW-sourced unit as part of a technical collaboration announced between the two automotive giants late last year, under which Toyota will assist BMW with the development of its hybrid technology.

Toyota Australia has previously said it would consider importing a Corolla powered by 1.6-litre or 2.0-litre BMW diesel units if they became available in this market.

Toyota used last week’s Auto Mobil International (AMI) congress in Germany to talk up the credentials of its Auris hybrid, which uses the same Hybrid Synergy Drive system as the Prius.

A hybrid version is certain to appear again in the next-generation Auris overseas and could possibly become the company’s next petrol-electric option sold in Australia, following the Camry hybrid sedan and Prius, Prius C and Prius V hatchbacks.

The Corolla continues to outsell newer rivals in Australia despite dating back to 2007, with 15,222 sales to the end of May – up 11.7 per cent – making it Australia’s second-most-popular car after the Mazda3.

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