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Toyota hatches new Corolla

Euro influence: Toyota claims its lower new Corolla features sharper, European-tuned road manners.

New Toyota Corolla hatch revealed in Japan ahead of Australian debut in October


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20 Aug 2012

TOYOTA has torn the covers from its crucial new Corolla hatch, revealing an edgier exterior and interior design coupled with the promise of a sharper European-inspired driving experience.

Now in its eleventh generation, the Corolla goes on sale today in its home market of Japan – where it is badged as the Auris – before its European debut at the Paris motor show in September and local launch at the Australian International Motor Show in Sydney in October.

The latest version of the world’s biggest-selling car features a more sweeping and angular design than its predecessor launched here in 2007, with sleeker headlights framing the V-shaped grille and tapering towards a more pronounced shoulder-line and triangular rear window.

Other notable design features include a raked bonnet and chunky doorhandles that bear a passing resemblance to the hybrid Toyota Prius, a wedged rear bumper and tail-light cluster, and a notably smaller gap between the wheelarches and tyres.

The redesigned body – which confirms the legitimacy of a series of brochure images leaked in June – is 55mm lower than the current model, further emphasising the claimed advancements made in driving dynamics courtesy of extensive European testing.

While the new Corolla is 30mm longer, the wheelbase is unchanged at 2600mm, while the drag coefficient has been cut to a more slippery 0.28 Cd (down from 0.29).

The new model is 40kg lighter but 10 per cent stiffer than its predecessor courtesy of more high-tensile steel, while a modified power steering system employs a brushless motor and modified gear ratio.

The redesigned cabin features 20mm more rear-seat knee room courtesy of thinner seat backs, a larger 360-litre cargo area (up six litres), a 90mm longer load floor and a sportier 40mm-lower driving position.

Interior features include metallic finish around the door grips, audio controls, steering wheel and gear shifter, more premium soft-touch plastics and leather surfaces, sportier bucket seats and a chunkier steering wheel.

Australian examples of the car will feature a more powerful version of the existing 100kW 1.8-litre engine matched to either a six-speed manual gearbox or CVT automatic transmission with a Sports Mode that limits upshifts to sharpen response.

The revised engine features a new ‘Valvematic’ continuously variable valve-timing system, different compression ratio and lower friction levels.

The Corolla range in Europe and Japan will again feature a headlining hybrid variant – which Autocar magazine claims will have a development of the current 1.8-litre petrol engine/electric motor and nickel-metal hydride battery set-up – but it is not yet clear if this drivetrain is scheduled for Australia.

Repositioning of the battery pack beneath the rear seat is said to provide the Auris/Corolla Hybrid with the same load capacity as regular models, unlike the previous version.

European examples will also feature a 1.4-litre diesel unit initially, to be replaced by BMW-sourced oil-burning units from about early 2014.

The new model range will also incorporate a sporting ‘RS’ variant in Japan, with a shorter-geared six-speed manual gearbox, special alloy wheels and lowered suspension.

Toyota Australia has yet to indicate if the hybrid, diesel and RS versions will make it here.

Toyota Australia executive director sales and marketing Matthew Callachor said in a statement that the European influence on the new Corolla “embraces the spirit of ‘waku-doki’ – a car that is fun to own and drive due to its sharp styling as well as its responsive acceleration, accurate steering, engaging drive and excellent ride comfort”.

Despite the imminent arrival of the new model, sales of the current Corolla sit at 22,011 to the end of July, an increase of 20.4 per cent over the same period in 2011 (when supply was affected by the Japanese tsunami).

This figure makes it the third-highest-selling car in the country this year, behind the Mazda3 and Toyota HiLux.

In addition to the Mazda3, the new Corolla – which will again be built in Japan – will face stiff competition in the competitive small-car segment from the re-born Nissan Pulsar, which is also set for reveal at the Sydney show.

Toyota Australia will continue to sell its current-shape Corolla sedan alongside the new hatch, as a new sedan is not due until the end of 2013.

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