By Mike Torpey on 2020-02-02 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Toyota Corolla 1.8
THERE'S a time-honoured value that Japanese car giant Toyota describes as 'Corolla-ness'.
It basically means remaining true to an original concept, in Toyota's case a vehicle boasting a heritage of more than 50 years.
We're talking about the Corolla, actually the world's best-selling car name but missing from the scene as its maker switched focus to the rather less successful Auris.
But now the Corolla is back in the shape of a new 12th generation model that's British built and comes in three separate body styles - hatchback, Touring Sports estate and saloon - each with its own individual look.
New cars are continually improving in everything from their environmental footprint tooverall safety features, but it's still a pleasure to find one that really stands out from the crowd.
The new Corolla is one of those cars, a real joy to drive - and it has nothing to do with performance either.
It's more a combination of exceptional engineering with a meticulous attention to comfort on the move; the result a relaxing magic carpet ride of suppleness and balance.
Toyota's focus these days is very much on hybrid electric technology and the one Corolla in the range - a a 114bhp 1.2-litre turbo petrol unit - is being dropped leaving the line up completely petrol/electric.
And this Touring Sport model - or estate version - was powered by one of the two available hybrids, the 120bhp 1.8-litre engine as opposed to the 178bhp 2.0 variant.
Opting for the former saves buyers £1,750 over the larger powerplant and also equates to slightly better economy, which to be fair is excellent from either.
This latest hybrid system is the best from Toyota so far, and that's from a brand that has been heralding petrol-electric technology for two decades.
As most people will know by now, the power comes from the petrol engine - there are no diesels - boosted by an electric motor.
Press the Start button, engage the CVT gearbox and the Corolla pulls silently away on electric power with little more than a whisper.
And it can stay that way pottering through the suburbs provided you don't go above the limit of around 25mph, at which the petrol engine kicks in.
In normal driving conditions the power switches automatically between the engine and motor for optimum efficiency, while the car's performance is quiet and responsive.
It feels a seriously upmarket car to drive, has low CO2 emissions in addition to that official fuel return of 70.6mpg and doesn't need connecting to a power source for recharging. Overall it's a great achievement for Toyota.
Opting for Touring Sport models provides not only a smart, low-slung estate but also one with a generous 596 litres of luggage capacity and a cavernous 1,725 litres with the rear seats folded flat.
Toyota Corolla 1.8 Touring Sports
Mechanical: 120bhp, 1,798cc, 4cyl petrol engine and electric motor driving front wheels via automatic gearbox
Max Speed: 109mph
0-62mph: 11.2 seconds
Combined MPG: 70.6
Insurance Group: 19
C02 emissions: 83g/km
Bik rating: 22%
Warranty: 5yrs/100,000 miles
Choose from one or more of the options to find the car for you.
Based on your search find the dealership
nearest to you.