AFTER a gap of 12 years Toyota is bringing back the Corolla name to mark the launch of a new hatchback, Touring Sports and saloon.
The new range replaces the worthy but unloved Auris models and the big sellers - the hatchback and Touring Sports - will be manufactured in the UK while the saloon, which is likely to sell only in tiny numbers here will be sourced from Turkey.
The Corolla is the best selling badge in the history of the motor industry with over 46 million sales since it first appeared in 1966 and Toyota is happy to bring it back to its coolest looking models for some time.
Trusted for its reliability and quality if not excitement, the Corolla name will now appear on a car that is great to look at as well as good to drive.
Sitting on a new platform that is shared with the bold-looking C-HR crossover the Corolla takes things a stage further with sharper steering an advanced suspension system for better handling.
In keeping with the latest trend there will be no diesels and most cars will be bought with self-charging hybrid power plants.
A 1.2-litre petrol turbo will be the entry-level engine but Toyota expects that it will not be hugely popular with buyers so it will only be offered in lower spec models of the hatchback and Touring Sports.
It will be good for 124mph in the hatchback with a 0-62mph time of 9.3 seconds and deliver up to 47mpg combined on the latest WLTP figures.
It was not available to drive at the official launch in Majorca as Toyota wanted attention concentrated on the two hybrid power plants which are combined with CVT automatic transmissions.
The 120bhp 1.8-litre is the one to go for if you are after really good economy as it delivers a combined 66mpg even under the new stricter WLTP tests, while still offering decent performance.
With emissions of just 76g/km and a 0-62mph time of 10.9 seconds it will also cruise comfortably at motorway speeds and go on till it hits 112mph.
If you want more fun opt for the 2.0-litre which produces 178bhp and sprints to 62mph in 7.9 seconds. It also offers paddleshifters on the steering wheel for extra fun but you have to accept that as it is a CVT they don't really do that much.
You will still get up to 60mpg combined with emissions at 82g/km and as in the 1.8 you can do a fair bit of travelling on electric only power if you modify your driving style.
The handsome hatchack is slightly larger than the Auris it replaces and the Touring Sports is also a good-looking vehicle while the niche Sedan's looks did not really appeal to me.
Inside the new models are a huge improvement with a leap in quality and style.
Harsh plastics are ditched in favour of soft-touch materials and all but the cheapest models get a nicely lit blue TFT instrument display.
An eight-inch central touchscreen which can also be operated by some buttons features in all models and some also get a really good head-up display which offers the choice of showing nav, media or drive mode data.
The seats are very comfortable and all models have excellent visibility. Four trim levels are available - Icon, Icon Tech, Design and the top Excel.
All are a match for the opposition and Icon Tech is expected to take the biggest share of sales.
One disappointment is that the refined interiors do not offer Apple CarPlay or Android Auto and this lets things down. Toyota executives realise this and expect things to change in the next 12 months.
Luggage space is not huge at 361 litres and 598 litres in the Touring Sports but both can be increased by dropping the folding rear seats.
The new Corolla takes safety to a higher level and Toyota's Safety Sense system with upgrades features across the range.
As a result hybrid models get adaptive cruise control, a crash mitigation system, pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane-keep assist and road sign recognition.
This is the best looking Corolla ever produced and its striking looks will tempt many buyers as will the fact that it is built in the UK.
Toyota continues to ditch its ‘boring' tag and with prices starting at just £21,080 up to £30,330 there is a model to suit all tastes.
The hybrid power trains mean real tax savings for business users and this will be attractive to fleet customers.
Private motorists also save cash and Toyota is launching the car with some tempting monthly payment deals to worry the opposition. You can get into a new Icon model for as little as £210 a month over 42 months and the top Excel hybrid is available for £244 over the same term.
Toyota has invested £240 million in the UK over the past 24 months to produce a car that is as quiet and refined as any of its rivals and it is at its best when using the CVT system to drive smoothly.
Toyota's total investment in the UK now stands at over £2.75 billion with 4.3 million cars being produced since 1992 and the new Corolla has all it takes to build on those numbers.