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, rear
Toyota Corolla, interior
Toyota Corolla, boot

THE Toyota Corolla is back with a vengeance.

It's a name synonymous with the Toyota marque but one that has surprisingly been absent since 2008.

For some reason Toyota ditched the name of the best selling car ever to replace it with the Auris.

Such is its significance that even after its 13-year absence it's a name that still seems oh so familiar.

The new Corolla is an attractive beast - a stylish and sporty looking hatchback - and it also has a few surprises up its sleeve.

The latest version has ditched diesel entirely in favour of petrol and hybrid power.

There is a pure petrol model - a 114bhp 1.2-litre petrol turbo - but in reality the vast majority of Corolla sales will come from the two mild hybrid models.

Under the bonnet are either 1.8-litre or 2.0-litre engines.

If you've toyed with the idea of an electric car or a plug-in hybrid but don't feel quite ready to take the plunge then a mild hybrid could prove just the ticket.

They combine battery and petrol power without the need for any kind of plugging in.

The battery gets recharged through regenerative braking and the electric motor kicks in when the car decides it should.

As such much low speed about town motoring can be done in silence but when you need a bit more power at your disposal petrol power takes over.

The 1.8-litre version is around £1,750 cheaper than the 2.0-litre and offers better economy but not such good performance.

I've not driven the 1.8-litre but most verdicts would suggest the 2.0-litre has a significant performance edge.

It delivers 178bhp as opposed to 120bhp and when it comes to the 0-62mph sprint there's also quite a difference - 7.9 seconds as opposed to 11.1 seconds.

It's horse for courses though and the smaller engine offers a combined economy figure of 65.9mpg as opposed to 50.43mpg.

I certainly did not find the 2.0-litre lacking and it delivered a decent drive - plenty of oomph with fun handling to match.

For a family hatchback the Corolla had impressive ride quality with more of a big car feel.

Talking of big cars perhaps its only limitation means it is not overly spacious. That sporty styling has some drawbacks.

However it's also available in different forms, as a saloon and an estate as well as a hatchback.

The interior of the Corolla is nicely done out and the instrumentation is clear and well laid out.

There's plenty to inform you what the vehicle is doing in terms of its twin power sources, which is interesting in itself.

It also feels exceptionally well put together.

Price-wise the Corolla range starts at £21,305 for the entry-level 1.2-litre petrol model with a manual gearbox, with the most expensive model being a 2.0-litre hybrid estate - the Excel Touring Sports in automatic form.

That will set you back £30,345, though this car - the automatic 2.0-litre Excel hatchback - isn't far behind it at £29,075.

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: 50.43

Insurance Group: 21

C02 emissions: 89g/km

Bik rating: 22%

Warranty: 5yrs/100,000 miles

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