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Toyota Corolla sedan gets a facial tweak and a more powerful hybrid drivetrain. Picture: PHUTI MPYANE
Toyota Corolla sedan gets a facial tweak and a more powerful hybrid drivetrain. Picture: PHUTI MPYANE

Toyota SA has announced new updates to its Corolla range, chief among them being the first time introduction of a Corolla hatch hybrid in SA.

The Corolla sedan has always had a hybrid version but it, and the hatch, now get a more powerful fifth-generation 1.8l petrol-electric drivetrain with a 14% lighter lithium-ion battery, better cooling, quieter operation and reduced emissions.

Total system output of the hybrid motor increases from 90kW to 103kW for a better driving experience. The 1.2T engine has been discontinued in the line-up while the existing naturally-aspirated 2.0l engine remains but with a slight bump in power, gaining an extra 1kW and 3Nm for peak outputs of 126kW and 203Nm. All Corolla models are now exclusively available with CVT automatic gearboxes.

Fuel consumption is claimed to be 5.9l/100km for the conventional engine and 3.9l/100km for the new hybrids. Driving modes of hybrid, EV and charge are also available in the hybrids.

Furthermore, the Corollas benefit from subtle aesthetic tweaks. The front bumper mesh design on the sedan is replaced by new horizontal slats while daytime running lights and turn-signal functions are now performed by the same lighting diodes. The rear is revised through larger headlamp clusters and an all-black lower bumper diffuser.

The hatchback’s front grille retains the mesh design and gets wider fog bezels, with chrome accents fitted on the Xr models, which also get 18-inch wheel as standard compared to the 16s found on entry-level Xs — the latter upgrading to a larger seven-inch digital instrument cluster.

The more luxurious Xr variants get a new eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system with capacitive switchgear, voice recognition, wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and built-in navigation, while a new black and red interior is optionally available and all grades now feature leather trim as standard.

Toyota Safety Sense with lane keeping system, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring and pre-crash warning is also available.  

The interior of the Xs grade benefits from a larger 7-inch touch screen while all Corolla models are fitted with leather seats. Picture: SUPPLIED
The interior of the Xs grade benefits from a larger 7-inch touch screen while all Corolla models are fitted with leather seats. Picture: SUPPLIED

The drive

The top-tier Corolla hatch hybrid is remarkably smooth in pure EV mode and on perfect tarmac. Their pure electric drive remains active until 40km/h which makes it a cinch if you live, work and play in areas that are constantly clogged with traffic. Above these speeds the petrol motor joins and the tango continues for higher speeds while you can also prioritise the car for charging of the batteries if you want.

The test car promised more than 900km of driving range while returning average consumption of 5.6l/100km in mostly urban conditions. The fuel-saving of a hybrid motor seems very desirable in these days of record high fuel prices.

Rav4 plug-in hybrid

Though not on sale yet, we also got a taste of a Toyota Rav4 plug-in hybrid. The difference between this and the current Rav4 hybrid E-Four is the ability to self-charge or use an AC charger at home through a wallbox charger, conventional home wall-socket or at a public charging facility.

The company says it's now testing the viability of this model which is powered by a 136kW and 227Nm 2.5l four-cylinder petrol engine mated to a lithium-ion battery driven electric motor hybrid drivetrain for a total system output of 225kW. Features include 2WD and AWD driving modes, a trail mode and a range of up to 80km on pure EV mode.

Pricing

Corolla HB 1.8 XS Hybrid — R490,900

Corolla HB 20 XR — R517,100

Corolla HB 1.8 XR Hybrid — R528,400

Corolla HB 1.8 XR Hybrid Bitone — R538,800

Corolla HB 2.0 XR Bitone — R529,000

Corolla sedan 1.8 XS Hybrid — R502,600

Corolla sedan 2.0 XR — R517,100

Corolla sedan 1.8 XR Hybrid — R521,800

The Corolla hatch benefits from a new hybrid model and slight aesthetic tweaks. Picture: PHUTI MPYANE
The Corolla hatch benefits from a new hybrid model and slight aesthetic tweaks. Picture: PHUTI MPYANE
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