Features: 80 / 100
Look/Design: 70 / 100
Performance: 70 / 100
Safety: 85 / 100
The Toyota Corolla has been the most prolific selling model of any car-maker, ever. It’s gone through many model variations through almost 40 years of production. Naturally one would assume that a car that sells like that would be amazing and does everything exceptionally. I mean, why else would so many people buy this car?
After spending time with the 1.6l model of the Corolla, I’ve come to the conclusion that the Corolla does the opposite. The Corolla ticks a lot of boxes, but exceptional isn’t one of them. It seems that the sheer anonymity of the Corolla is its strongest driving factor. The fact that this car doesn’t do anything exceptionally well, has no real uniqueness and sits in the not-ugly, not-pretty category, makes it universally appealing.
The Corolla is no looker, but isn’t ugly either. It firmly sits in the conservative section, and doesn’t try to push any design boundaries. The 1.6l rides on 16” wheels with particularly non-descript rims. It’s not offensive and not particularly progressive. The available colours are also all in the “very safe” category. The Advanced model also has colour-coded mirrors, door handles and bumper.
The same goes for the interior. There’s a radio with CD player, air-conditioner and multi-function steering wheel. The interior isn’t particularly appealing, and the brown, grey and black plastics are pretty average. The interior is solid enough, but the plastics don’t feel very high-end. The radio isn’t mind-blowing, with a lack of bass and shrill treble. It has an Audio Jack and USB input. The radio monitor is decidedly low-tech and feels old. The odometer/speedometer is probably the best part of the fascia, with the 3D view looking good and display clear and legible. The car has a large boot with ample space and the rear seats have enough space for taller adults to sit comfortably. It also has a full-size spare wheel. The combination leather seats are comfortable and did quite well in longer trips. Although not figure hugging for chucking the car around, they were supportive.
The Corolla is a very safe car, with 6 airbags and ABS with EBD and BAS. It also has ISO-FIX and side impact protection beams.
When it comes to performance, the figures look better than the real world performance. The 90kW 1.6l engine is adequate but not particularly spiritedly. It gets you to where you need to go, but without any real haste. Once on the highway, you also need to work the gears quite often in order to keep the speed up, since the torque only peaks at over 5200rpm. The suspension is very middle of the road, soaking up most of the inequalities. It didn’t fare too well at higher speeds and it’s clear the setup isn’t for driving at the edge of the car’s capabilities. This is a family car and should be treated as such.
The fuel consumption, although not terrible, again didn’t impress that much either. The final figure of 8.4l/100km isn’t that great and didn’t quite match the figure given by Toyota.
The Corolla is the quintessential family car and at R235 600 for the Advanced model definitely comes at a premium. For the price, Toyota throws in a 5year/90 000km service plan and 3year/100 000km warranty. The Corolla doesn’t do anything badly but it is not a car that excels at anything either. For the price you do get quite a bit of kit.
Whereas most cars try to get you to sign on the dotted line by punting some incredible or unique feature, the Corolla uses its anonymity to get into your garage. The fact that it appeals to no one in particular, seems that it means it somehow appeals to everyone. The Corolla’s anonymity seems to be its unique feature. It seems that average is the new exceptional with the Toyota Corolla.