New Toyota Corolla Hatchback 2019 review

Toyota Corolla
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Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

The Toyota Corolla is a medium-sized hatchback that deserves some serious consideration as your next family car.

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Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s the new Corolla. Yes, the well-known Toyota model is back with us after a good few years away. It’s a car that we all love – because loads and loads of Corollas have been sold around the globe. But is it sexy? Well, it didn’t use to be. It was something that was just there. Something you might have clocked – if you were compos mentis enough – through bleary eyes outside a kebab shop after a night out. Why? Because it was often the motor of choice for cabbies.

Even though it wasn’t sexy – it was reliable – and we all love security, don’t we? Taxi drivers and punters all want to get from A to B without breaking down. The Corolla provided this reassurance. It was as bland as cabbage soup – but, boy, it was dependable. And that meant families loved it, too.

“Sexy now”

The name then vanished and was replaced by the ‘Auris’ moniker in 2006. But because it was missed so much, the model was ushered back into UK dealers at the beginning of 2019. And guess what? It’s sexy now. Well, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but the Toyota looks well-proportioned outside and in. And if my drive to Heathrow Airport this week is anything to go by, cabbies have been quick to make it their choice of car again. There were quite a few hanging about Terminal 5 and gracing the lanes of the M4 and M25.

Put bluntly, it’s good to see the name ‘Corolla’ reappear. The designation makes you think of words like ‘trustworthy’, and now, ‘eco-friendly’ needs to be added. This is because the car is being made with electrified powertrains, including the 2.0-litre unit, driven for this article. The maximum power in this version is 180ps – enough to propel the Toyota from a standstill to 62mph in 7.9 seconds. That’s quick – but efficiency is what the Corolla is now about. My test car could get up to 60mpg, and its CO2 figure is low at 89g/km.

So, what’s it like behind the wheel? Well, the seats are low, but there’s good visibility – and the ride is compliant. What’s more, the Corolla’s low centre of gravity means body roll is almost non-existent. That said, when it comes to the driving experience, it’s tricky to get enthralled. Then there’s the continuously variable transmission that emits the sort of whirr you get from PlayStation-style car games. Nevertheless, the Toyota is dutiful around town, where it’ll enable you to motor about without using much more than a teaspoonful of petrol. And the Corolla can be an unruffled cruiser at motorway speeds.

The rear of the hatchback isn’t overly roomy, but it’s no worse than a Vauxhall Astra or Ford Focus. The slanted roofline means you need to hunch over to strap your kids in their child seats, but it’s not a deal-breaker. Raise the tailgate, and you’ll find a boot with a luggage capacity of 313-litres. That’s not huge, but it’s enough for a couple of cases and a baby buggy.

Overall, the reincarnated Corolla is built well, and it delivers a pleasant ride, along with confidence-generating handling. Yes, it has a few weaknesses, but the negligible CO2 emissions and low running costs make the flaws seem trifling. This is a car that needs to be considered if you’re after a medium-sized family hatchback.

Fast Facts (Corolla 2.0 Hybrid CVT Excel Hatchback – as tested):

  • Max speed: 112mph
  • 0-62 mph: 7.9 seconds
  • Combined MPG: 50.43 – 60.62
  • Engine layout: 1987cc 4-cylinder petrol-electric hybrid
  • Max. power (PS): 180
  • CO2: 89g/km  
  • Price: £29,075