A MANUAL gearbox that can match revs for smooth downshifts is “highly likely” for the 2018 Toyota Corolla hatchback that’s due here in August.
The new Toyota Corolla will likely pair the smaller, lighter six-speed manual gearbox with its all-new 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine.
The Japanese car maker says the 2.0-litre engine lined up for the Hyundai i30 fighter delivers more torque over a wider band than the current larger and heavier 1.8-litre version that will be retained for what it describes as Prius-rivalling hybrid versions of the Corolla that will be sold here.
A spokesman for the car maker said while the Corolla’s showroom mix was yet to be confirmed for Australia, it was “highly likely” the manual would be part of it.
If the Corolla doesn’t gain the manual option, the only gearbox available with the M20A-FKS “Dynamic Force” engine will be a new generation of Toyota’s continuously variable transmission. It includes a launch gear, a single-ratio toothed gear that will help the Corolla with step-off acceleration – a common weakness of CVTs. This gearbox will have 10 sequential steps programmed into it, controlled via paddle shifters, and a sport mode.
The good-looking Corolla also looks good on paper. Built on the Toyota New Generation Architecture that’s shared with the Prius hybrid, Camry and the C-HR compact SUV, the Corolla sits 25mm lower than the car it replaces, and is 30mm wider and 40mm longer.
More importantly in terms of handling, it is on a wider track and 40mm longer wheelbase. The bonnet is a significant 50mm lower.
Up front, the Corolla features MacPherson struts with revised spring rates and damping forces, plus reduced friction in sliding parts.
Down the back, the multilink/double wishbone rear suspension’s “lower arm locations have moved (for improved toe-in angle during higher-speed manoeuvring), as has shock absorber placement (moved forward for better cargo capacity and reduced longitudinal low frequency input),” Toyota said.
“Overall, front and rear suspension friction has been reduced by 40 per cent, and its centre of gravity is cut by a substantial 20mm.”
The new 2.0-litre direct injection engine uses electronic variable valve timing on the intake side, and oil pressure-based variable timing on the exhaust ports. It has a longer 97.6mm stroke and uses a higher 13.0:1 compression, with reduced friction and a lighter timing chain. Performance figures have not yet been released
The new-gen Corolla should also weigh in much lighter than the previous generation, with the tailgate made from a combination of acrylonitrile butadiene styrene – the same stuff used in Lego bricks – and olefin – the same material that hatchback parcel shelves are often made from.
The Corolla will use slimline LED headlamps wrapped into a front that has 20mm less overhang than the previous-generation car, and LED tail-lights. An electronic parking brake replaces the traditional manual one, and all versions will gain two front USB ports.
Grade-dependent features include single-zone manual air-conditioning or dual-zone automatic climate control, paddle shifters and 4.2-inch or 7.0-inch multimedia displays.
The manual Corolla’s rev-matching feature is a variation of the system introduced to self-shift six-speed versions of the Toyota Hilux in 2015.
The 2018 Toyota Corolla will be revealed in full at this week’s New York Motor Show, which starts on Friday.