THE next-generation Toyota Corolla will launch in Australia with a version of the nation’s current best-selling passenger car packing a six-speed manual gearbox and 125kW/200Nm of punch.
But more importantly, manual versions of the the Corolla will automatically blip the throttle on downshifts, matching the engine’s revs with the speed of the clutch to put a little bit of electronically assisted rally ace behind every steering wheel.
The new Corolla, due in August, makes the jump to the Toyota New Global Architecture that also underpins the Japanese brand’s latest products, including the hybrid Toyota Prius, the turbocharged CH-R, and the four- and six-cylinder Camry. For the Prius and Camry, the switch to the new platform has improved the way they drive markedly.
The TNGA platform has lowered the engine and seating positions, and therefore the centre of gravity, and made weight distribution more even over the wheelbase for the models it has superseded, resulting in what Toyota calls a “ sportier, more athletic design and a more engaging drive with improved handling and ride comfort”.
Toyota has also announced that the Corolla will add a hybrid variant to each of the model grades, stepping up from the single offering of the car the new one will replace. Toyota says these cars will use an “improved” version of the 1.8-litre Atkinson cycle engine used in the Prius, with fuel efficiency expected to rival that of the Prius.
The new Corolla will also take a big step up in terms of safety, adding automatic emergency braking that includes pedestrian protection that works in both night and day, and daytime cyclist cover. As well, it will gain an active steering system that will keep the hatchback aligned to its lane in either slow-moving traffic or along the highway.
Other confirmed features include LED headlights, an improved eight-speaker multimedia system for higher grades and an electric handbrake. There will also be keyless entry and start, a seven-inch colour display in the instrument cluster, a colour head-up display and wireless smartphone charging. The car will continue to come equipped with a CVT, but for the first time it will include a "launch" gear, a single gear used to minimise the low-down lag of conventional belt-drive transmissions.
Toyota said the Corolla would remain “ very competitive and affordable” despite all the improvements.