Toyota Corolla hatchback - Interior & comfort
It's hi-tech and comfortable, but the Corolla isn’t as interesting inside as some rivals
Toyotas have rarely been commended for having striking or exceptional interiors – and the Corolla is no exception. The overall design is relatively conservative, although there are a few lines of stitching on the dashboard and door cards to make the cabin feel a bit more premium than, say, a Ford Focus. A Volkswagen Golf or even Peugeot 308 provide much more of a sense of occasion, though, with flashier and contemporary-looking cockpits.
As you’d expect from a Toyota, build quality is superb and everything is laid out exactly where you’d expect it to be. We like that the Japanese brand hasn’t fallen into the same trap that’s ensnared other manufacturers of burying the climate controls within the touchscreen; these are accessed by a set of simple, yet much more ergonomic physical dials below the infotainment display.
Infotainment and navigation
The Corolla’s infotainment system has long been a weak point, with the eight-inch screen offering dowdy-looking graphics and very little functionality. Thankfully, 2023 has brought with it a new 10.5-inch system taken from the Toyota bZ4X electric SUV, which is a huge improvement overall.
Not only are the graphics much crisper and brighter than before, but the display is incredibly responsive to your inputs and is packed with features. All versions of the Corolla get built-in sat nav – something that can’t be said of many rivals – as well as DAB radio, Bluetooth and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.
Making the ageing Corolla’s interior feel even more up-to-date is the new 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, which replaces the old set of part-digital dials. While this isn’t quite as configurable, nor does it display as much information as the setup in the Mk8 Golf, it’s a welcome addition regardless and is still more versatile and modern-looking than the old layout.
Four trim levels are offered in the UK: Icon, Design, GR Sport and Excel. Icon kicks things off with the aforementioned touchscreen and digital dials, as well as 16-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, heated front and rear outer seats, and a rear-view camera, making it well-positioned among rivals like the Kia Ceed.
Step up to Design and 17-inch alloys improve the Corolla's looks, but also reduce its efficiency slightly. You also get rain-sensing wipers, folding door mirrors, rear privacy glass, ambient lighting and LED front fog lights.
GR Sport is next. As the name implies, it's a sportily styled model that takes design cues from Toyota's GR high-performance models, and is similar in approach to Ford's ST-Line and Volkswagen's R-Line models. The Corolla GR Sport features a different front bumper and rear bumper with twin fake exhausts, 18-inch alloy wheels and red-edged black centre caps. On the inside, there are a pair of deeply bolstered sports seats and a colour head-up display.
The range-topping Excel brings luxury features like adaptive LED headlights, part-leather seats and a powered bootlid. We recommend sticking with either the entry-level Icon or the stylish Design trims as they offer the best value for money, regardless of how tempting the extra features of range-topping models may be.