Toyota Corolla Excel

2.0 Hybrid

Toyota Corolla, front
Toyota Corolla, front
Toyota Corolla, front
Toyota Corolla, front
Toyota Corolla, rear
Toyota Corolla, rear
Toyota Corolla, interior
Toyota Corolla, boot

I'VE been on the planet roughly the same amount of time as the Corolla - but Toyota will be delighted to know that's where any similarity ends.

This is the 12th generation of a model that first saw the light of day in 1966 and returns now in place of the Auris - but there is nothing staid or dowdy about this mid-sized model as Dr Who-style powers of regeneration put it firmly in the 21st century.

It is definitely the snazziest looking Corolla I've ever seen with smart alloys and natty LEDs making this a thoroughly modern Millie.

So whereas my bodywork is definitely showing the signs of wear and tear, the British-built Corolla's exterior is sharp and sleek.

Toyota uses its new multi-purpose platform on the Corolla which also sees action in the C-HR SUV and the latest Prius.

This gives the car good driving characteristics with ride and handling also benefiting from a low centre of gravity, slick steering and an advanced rear suspension. You are cushioned from the many humps and hollows littering our roads and levels of refinement in the cabin are good as little if any noise is granted access to the interior.

The hatchback driven here and an estate version - called Touring Sports in Toyota's world - are built at the company's Burnaston plant in Derbyshire, while a hybrid-only saloon is manufactured in Turkey.

The neat hatch is 40mm longer than the Auris making it roomier with boot space logging in at 313 litres on the 2.0 hybrid model. The rear seats split 60:40 and fold flat creating the room needed for bigger items such as my golf bag and trolley.

As far as storage for your odds and ends goes there are good-sized door bins, a large glovebox and assorted cubby holes including a covered one between the driver and front-seat passenger.

There's a decent amount of room for two adults in the back with a third able to be seated although this does rule out the use of the handy drop down armrest.

There's a feeling of opulence in the cabin thanks to the use of ambient lighting and good quality materials as well as a decent fit and finish.

An eight-inch touchscreen is easy to see and use. It gives access to Toyota's Touch 2 infotainment system containing goodies such as sat nav and a DAB radio. Bluetooth connectivity is also available but there is no facility for Apple CarPlay or Android Auto so smartphone users be warned.

A separate multi-information display sits in the instrument panel giving proceedings a suitably futuristic air in Toyota's latest hybrid.

All Corollas boast heated front seats, a reversing camera and an electronic parking brake as standard.

There are four trim levels available with the top of the range Excel model adding 18-inch alloys, part-leather upholstery and supportive front sport seats to a menu that already includes dual-zone climate control, parking sensors, reversing camera, automatic wipers, auto folding power-adjustable side mirrors, rear privacy glass and LED front fog lights.

Toyota has been in the vanguard of hybrid technology for more than 20 years and the latest petrol-electric system is a peach with lively yet economical performance.

There are paddle shifters to allow manual changes for the automatic gearbox as well as a range of drive modes with sport and eco settings as well as a normal set up.

The 178bhp produced allows 62mph to be achieved from a standing start in 7.9 seconds on the way to a top speed of 112mph.

Decent fuel economy and low emissions are the order of the day with Toyota claiming 60.6mpg and a CO2 figure of 89g/km.

FAST FACTS

Toyota Corolla Excel 2.0 Hybrid

Price:£29,075

Mechanical:178bhp, 1,987cc, 4cyl petrol engine and electric motor driving front wheels via automatic gearbox

Max Speed:112mph

0-62mph:7.9 seconds

Combined MPG:60.6

Insurance Group:21

C02 emissions:89g/km

Bik rating:22%

Warranty:5yrs/100,000 miles

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