Toyota’s Corolla iM was an orphan virtually from start. Conceived by Scion, the compact hatchback joined the Toyota clan after its youth-targeted mum or dad model took an everlasting filth nap.
Regardless of styling that bordered on edgy, the iM did not elevate drivers’ enthusiasm to some extent the place its gross sales numbers performed a lot of a task in the Corolla nameplate’s reputation. Testing revealed a 5-door hatch that, whereas versatile, severely lacked in each energy and luxury.
Merely put, it wasn’t very particular. In any respect.
That each one modifications for 2019, as Toyota’s making amends for its weak earlier effort. With its new Corolla hatch (the iM identify disappears, erasing the final hint of Scion from the automotive panorama), the automaker hoped to create a car house owners may truly need to toss round — and one they will drive with out going nuts discovering a correct driving place.
(Full disclosure: Toyota flew me to Del Mar, California to test each this mannequin and the 2019 Avalon. Nicely balanced, excessive-fiber meals have been served over the period of the journey, and my lodge room had a view of the ocean. I coated my drinks at the lodge bar. Who knew Bulleit might be so expensive?)
It’s not simply the sheetmetal that’s modified for 2019. Beneath the Corolla Hatchback, which wears the Auris identify abroad, lies Toyota’s TNGA platform — a stiff piece of structure that, together with a multi-hyperlink rear suspension, improves the car’s power and dealing with. Torsional rigidity is up by 60 %. You’ll discover the similar structure beneath the Corolla sedan come 2020.
Whereas the iM was a pointy-edged wedge, Toyota designers figured a standard, if sportier, silhouette with a trademark giant grille would assist lure millennials into the vendor. Headlights resembling axe blades full the newly menacing entrance finish. As for the rear, creases abound, and Toyota brass have been fast to say the sharply raked liftgate shuns metallic for a plastic resin so as to make it occur.
The physique’s robust sufficient to permit a composite hatch, stated Corolla product specialist Adam Lovelady. That physique, by the method, now boasts a 1.5 inch longer wheelbase, and the new platform sees floor clearance drop half an inch, with a roughly inch wider monitor, entrance and rear.
Anticipate two flavors when the Corolla hatch goes on sale this summer time: SE and XSE, each decked out with loads of standard package and every containing the similar 2.zero-liter 4-cylinder. Rated at 168 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque, the mill offers insurance coverage towards the sort of complaints that dogged the iM. (Primarily, that the 137 hp, 126 lb-ft 1.eight-liter in that mannequin brought about narcolepsy.)
In each SE and uplevel XSE trim, the new Dynamic Drive 2.zero-liter strikes the three,060-pound hatch with larger gusto than its tepid predecessor. It’s no 5-door Supra, however it’s no slouch, both. The engine makes its presence heard, particularly in the SE, with out coming throughout as too raucous. Spring for an XSE and the added sound deadening mutes it additional.
After studying the engine’s specs, I couldn’t assist however think of the base powerplant in the Corolla hatch’s principal competitor: the Hyundai Elantra GT. Additionally a 2.zero-liter, the Hyundai’s mill generates 162 hp and one hundred fifty lb-ft. A slight edge for the Corolla, however there’s a turbocharged improve on supply with the Koreans. The Civic hatch dons a 1.5-liter turbo 4 of 174 hp and 167 lb-ft (in guide guise).
True, it isn’t in Toyota’s nature to offer consumers every little thing they need, however you possibly can’t say it ignored the cries of purists craving for slightly enjoyable of their commute. Each the SE and XSE include a selection of transmissions — a “clever” six-velocity guide and a Dynamic Shift constantly variable automated with a bodily first gear for faster launches. The iM CVT’s takeoffs are best described as sluggish, so it’s a welcome improve.
Whereas the launch gear definitely strikes the Corolla off the line with extra authority (CVTs additionally achieve a sport mode not present in guide trims), it’s onerous to withstand the pull of a stick. Typically, that’s. The Corolla hatch’s six-velocity provides rev-matching for drama-free downshifts, although you’ll have to maintain your shift velocity someplace between languid and wham-bam to see it in motion. A brake maintain perform retains the car stationary for uphill launches. It’s an excellent-wanting setup on paper, however I’m unhappy to report that a mild clutch pedal and lengthy throws drained a few of the pleasure from this row-your-personal expertise.
Toyota claims a wider ratio unfold for the CVT, however doesn’t have the figures to again up its promise of improved fuel financial system simply but. Should you’re in the temper for a finger exercise, 10 simulated gear ratios await these prepared to work the flappy paddles.
The Corolla hatch proved nimble and properly mannered on the much less-than-difficult roads of Oceanside and Rancho Santa Fe. Steering is exact, although pretty mild for a would-be sporty car. A contact of the “sport” button companies the wheel up properly.
Extra energy and precision is nice, however it provides as much as a misplaced sale in case you can’t occupy the car with out experiencing bodily ache and psychological anguish. What’s most spectacular about this new mannequin — particularly for a author who described the iM as one in every of the most uncomfortable automobiles he’s ever pushed — is its vastly improved interior. “Sensuous minimalism,” Toyota calls it, and it’s nothing in need of a revelation.
In the iM, discovering a snug seating place was unattainable. Not exhausting — unimaginable. The extremely gentle cushioning meant my butt sank midway to China, and decrease again help was lacking like a Malaysian airliner. What’s worse, the door-mounted armrest was so low, you couldn’t relaxation your elbow on it and keep a grip on the wheel. The brand new Corolla will get all the things proper — you’ll hear not one gripe about entrance seat consolation from this man. It’s an enchancment over the base Elantra GT, too.
In two-tone guise, the cabin seems stylish and ethereal. There’s no handbrake to muddle up the console in both mannequin, visibility is sweet, and the supplies feel and appear applicable for the car’s class. Infotainment comes by way of an eight-inch touchscreen mounted excessive on the sprint, and with it comes Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa connectivity, plus Entune three.zero audio.
Few compact automobiles supply up the type of rear legroom my 6’four″ body calls for, so I wasn’t shocked to find cramped quarters once I climbed again there (the under photo exhibits the driver’s seat in a rearward “Steph” place). Behind these seats lies 18.1 cubic ft of cargo area — roughly seven cubes lower than the Elantra GT and Honda Civic hatch. Blame the car’s sportier profile for that.
What’ll a Corolla Hatch set you again? Toyota’s not divulging particulars till nearer to the on-sale date. Nonetheless, consumers of SE fashions aren’t precisely climbing right into a naked-bones stripper. sixteen-inch wheels come standard, as does Toyota Security Sense 2.zero — a set of driving aids comprised of lane departure alert with steering help, ahead collision warning, brake help, and automated emergency braking. The pre-collision system now acknowledges daytime bicyclists in addition to pedestrians. Full-velocity dynamic radar cruise management comes standard in all Corolla hatch fashions bought with a CVT, permitting ft-off cruising from zero to one hundred ten mph. Stick shift fashions make do with regular dynamic cruise.
There’s additionally automated excessive beams and a lane-preserving system that mimics the previous vehicle if painted markings disappear.
SE consumers obtain single-zone automated local weather management, Sensible Key entry with push-button ignition, heated mirrors, LED headlamps, and paddle shifters with 10 simulated gear ratios for the CVT. XSE fashions take pleasure in all of those features, plus 18-inch wheels, a grille outlined in chrome, LED fog lamps, leather-based seating, 7-inch multi-information show (up from four.2 inches on SE), and adaptive lighting on CVT fashions.
Sadly, guide transmission fashions eschew blind spot monitoring — a safety feature excessive on many consumers’ should-have listing.
Toyota might have simply eyed the North American car market and stated “screw it,” relegating the Auris to the abroad crowd and letting its Corolla sedan do all the work in the compact car area. It deserves kudos for resisting the urge. The brand new Corolla hatch rights all the wrongs of the previous iM, and appears good doing it.
It’s not an ideal execution, however it’s good to see an automaker put effort and time into a flexible small car that encourages drivers to have just a little enjoyable.
[Images: Steph Willems/TTAC]
– 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback First Drive – Doing It Right the Second Time –
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