Toyota Corolla hatchback review
"The Toyota Corolla feels like the right car at the right time, especially in hybrid guise. It's efficient, well-equipped and relaxing"
- Diesel-beating efficiency
- Stylish new design
- Hassle-free motoring
- Middling interior space
- CVT automatic isn't for everyone
- Limited towing ability
The Toyota Corolla is back on British shores and better than ever. Not only does it look far more stylish than the Toyota Auris it replaced, it has plenty of other attributes that owners will want to tell their friends about.
Both the 1.8-litre and the 2.0-litre hybrids can return over 55mpg in the right trim, with CO2 emissions that are sure to make them a hit with company-car drivers. Ranging from 101 to 127g/km the Corolla hybrid’s low emissions qualify it for a mid-range Benefit-in-Kind liability, presenting a decent saving on company car tax when compared with a Volkswagen Golf or Vauxhall Astra. It’ll also suit private buyers keen to be greener without the hassle of recharging.
While the 1.8-litre hybrid will be familiar to anyone who's driven a Toyota C-HR or Toyota Prius, the 2.0-litre is all-new and gets the Corolla from 0-62mph in just 7.9 seconds, much quicker than the 1.8-litre engine. It shouldn't be thought of as an enthusiast's choice, though, instead helping the Corolla feel more upmarket, with better acceleration up to motorway speeds.
The Corolla handles better than most will expect too, the experience sitting somewhere between the poise and accuracy of the Ford Focus and the smooth feel of the Volkswagen Golf. That's not a bad compromise, and while the steering is slightly numb, the latest Corolla is pleasingly sharp and agile.
Soft materials and neat design touches give the Corolla's interior a cosy feel, and customers are likely to do a double-take to check that features like LED headlights and a rear-view camera really do come as standard on the entry-level Icon trim. They do, and so does an eight-inch infotainment display - although on closer inspection this is one of the worst features of the Corolla.
It just doesn't feel as slick as the systems in the best rivals, but we’re very glad that Apple CarPlay and Android Auto now feature as standard, letting you bypass Toyota’s somewhat outdated infotainment system by using your phone’s apps and functions instead. Toyota added Apple and Android compatibility in early 2020, and earlier cars can have the software retrofitted at a Toyota dealership for a fee.
Practicality is decent without tearing up the rule book, offering plenty of space and seat adjustment in the front, but only middling room for back seat passengers. Pick the 1.8-litre hybrid and there's a 361-litre boot, but this shrinks to 313 litres in the 2.0-litre, a figure that's bettered by a Volkswagen Polo supermini. If the Corolla ticks a lot of boxes but you’d like it to be a bit bigger, you’ll be well served by the Toyota Corolla Touring Sports estate, or by the Toyota RAV4 SUV.
Corolla owners are likely to be looking for hassle-free motoring and here the Toyota scores again, with its new 'Relax' warranty. This can last for up to 10 years/100,000 miles, but with Toyota's reliability record - especially for hybrid models - they probably won't need it. Plenty of standard safety kit helped the car score five stars in Euro NCAP safety tests.