It has been a month of anxiety, unbridled joy and change in the Kirby household, and along for the ride as an all-important family member was my Corolla long-termer.
After much discussion, my partner and I decided it was time to expand the Kirby clan with a new addition. So it was that I found myself driving down the Hume with my partner in the passenger seat, making soft cooing noises at Noah the one-eyed greyhound puppy sat in her lap.
During the first weeks of pet ownership the Corolla was invaluable, with the low ride height perfect for training Noah how to enter and exit a vehicle, and the little fella taking to napping on the cloth-trim seats on trips to the vet.
Read next: Small cars: a quick guide
While Noah is no larger than my forearm at the moment, he will grow rapidly, and this highlights the one roadblock preventing the Corolla from being a great permanent addition to the garage – interior space.
To explain why, I need to go back to 1967. Toyota’s then new two-door sedan featured on the cover of Wheels’ June edition for its first Aussie road test, accompanied by a bikini-clad blonde model. Thankfully time allows us to cringe and shake our heads at the picture choice. Time, and the 12 generations since then, it seems, has not been so kind to the ’Rolla.
Wheels’ first road test stated “the styling of the car has been highly successful in both eye appeal and accommodation”. From our foray with this latest-gen car, it has only achieved one of those two things. The E210 Corolla looks striking, and modern, but interior space is at a premium.
This became immediately apparent on a cross-town trip with four adults on board. Despite a shorter than average height, the two in the back were cramped, with the two up front having to move seats forward to provide a small reprieve. The rear pair’s luggage was made to fit, just, but it did require some intricate boot Tetris. If a two-door Corolla from the ’60s can carry four adults in comfort, and luggage for two with ease, it seems an affront that my modern example struggles with the same tasks.
And with the Corolla preparing to return to Toyota HQ, now’s the time to voice some other small niggles from our time together. Like the odd placement of the wireless charging unit, which can result in phones launching at the gear selector on hard acceleration; or the lack of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, accentuated by the Bluetooth on my phone giving up the ghost.
But don’t write off the Corolla just yet. During its tenure, commuting has been its main duty and it hasn’t put a foot wrong, returning impressive fuel-economy figures (see sidebar, left).
It’s also surprisingly fun to drive, despite the fact that the ‘Sport’ button doesn’t really do anything. But while it has undoubted dynamic talent, this remains a chassis crying out for more power – good thing a GRMN hot-hatch variant is rumoured to be on the way.
And as for space, for most couples or singles, it should be near the top of their list – it won our October comparison test for good reason, with generous equipment and impressive refinement.
So while its long-term scorecard isn’t perfect, overlooking the Corolla’s shortcomings is simply a matter of personal preference. And perhaps a smarter choice in four-legged friend.