Tell me about this car
The Toyota Corolla Ascent Sport hatch is next in the line-up after the entry level Ascent. At $21,210 it costs $1020 more than the Ascent and for that you get a sportier bodykit, fog lights and a larger, 7-inch touchscreen and an option for in-built satellite navigation for an extra $1000. The driver assistance safety pack is a $750 option in this variant. It comes standard with a six-speed manual gearbox with a CVT available for $1580. The Corolla Ascent Sport Hatch we tested had the optional sat-nav and safety pack and the manual transmission.
1. The Safety Pack brings high-tech active safety to the Corolla including forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking, lane departure alert and automatic high beam. The extra $750 doesn’t seem too much for all that extra safety.
2. The interior has been refreshed with new air vents and piano black trim. The 7-inch screen is a welcome change from the small display in previous versions.
3. Toyota has tweaked the suspension adding larger-diameter dampers and improved suspension mounting rigidity which has resulted in noticeably improved ride comfort. It absorbs bumps well and feels grounded.
4. The electric power steering is light and responsive around town while feeling securely firm at higher speeds.
5. The 103kW 1.8-litre engine isn’t the most powerful in its class but works well across the range particularly at higher revs.
6. Fuel economy is good, though the manual will drink about 10 percent more than the CVT. Toyota reckons you’ll average about 6.7-litres/100km but we did about 7.5-litres/100km.
7. Exterior build quality is excellent.
1. The manual gearbox feels sloppy and the long riding clutch means you’re revving the hell out of the car in the time it takes to shift from first to second. It says a lot when the CVT auto is seen as the far better option.
2. The Toyota Corolla is great if you treat cars like appliances with function in mind, but it’s not exactly the kind of car you’ll be itching to drive every day.
3. The new interior looked good but lacked the precise build quality of the car’s exterior.
4. The name Ascent Sport should not be taken too literally.
Are there any rivals I should consider?
The Corolla is Australia’s most popular passenger car but has stiff opposition from the Mazda3 and Hyundai i30. The Mazda3 Maxx and i30 Active X sit in the Corolla Ascent Sport’s price range and are certainly worth the look as are the Holden Astra R, Ford Focus Trend and Subaru Impreza 2.0i hatch.