Toyota Corolla

Design 1.8 VVT-i

Hybrid Hatchback

Toyota Corolla, front
Toyota Corolla, profile
Toyota Corolla, rear
Toyota Corolla, dynamic
Toyota Corolla, interior
Toyota Corolla, interior, rear
Toyota Corolla, dashboard
Toyota Corolla, boot

THE name will be familiar to many, but I'm prepared to bet few people will remember what the Toyota Corolla looked like before it disappeared from UK roads more than a decade ago.

Despite being a solid, reliable motor it had become somewhat dull when compared to a growing list of competitors and was phased out across Europe in 2006.

It is somewhat ironic then, that the re-emergence of the Corolla name in 2019 has come in direct response to the increasingly staid perception of the car that usurped it across the continent for the intervening dozen or so years - the Auris.

There's little danger of such accusations being levelled at the new, twelfth generation, Corolla though.

Toyota's designers have come up with a sporty looking, distinctively styled car that is all sharp angles and clean lines, especially in this hatchback form - estate and saloon versions are also available.

Reflecting the Japanese car maker's focus on hybrid technology, there is just one conventional engine available - a 114bhp 1.2-litre turbo petrol unit.

The big sellers, though, will be the versions utilising the brand's trademark self-charging hybrid - available here with either 1.8 or 2.0-litre petrol power packs and mated to the usual continuously variable transmission.

The 1.8-litre version we drove is likely to be the popular choice and kicks out a peak 178bhp, dispatching the 0-62mph sprint in a snip under 11 seconds and capable of a top speed of 112mph, while delivering up to 62.7 miles per gallon on average, with carbon emissions of just 83g/km.

While its pace may not be blistering in this guise, the Corolla Hatch does provide a surprisingly enjoyable drive thanks to the Toyota New Global Architecture - fancy motor industry speak for a redeveloped chassis and suspension - which underpins it.

Already deployed to great effect on updated versions of the Prius and RAV4, the C-HR SUV and another old name that has been resurrected, the Camry, this technology can be shared across models, using rigid but lightweight construction and a lower centre of gravity to boost agility.

The result here is some nimble handling capabilities and impressive body control coupled with a ride that remains both comfortable and settled even over heavily pock-marked road surfaces.

Add in the extra boost of power that the hybrid system conjures when you put your foot down and the Corolla feels quite punchy and responsive on the move - fully able to cope on the open road.

It is in town, though, where the hybrid system is most effective, being able to call on electric-only power much more often in this lower speed, stop-start environment. Going down the hybrid route is a shrewd choice if this is where most of your miles are done and, if that is the case, the Corolla holds plenty of appeal.

The interior quality is of a standard not always evident in family hatchbacks, with plenty of tactile, soft touch surfaces actually giving it quite an upmarket look and feel. Four adults should be comfortable enough, although things will be a little tight in the back for those approaching six feet tall.

Equipment levels are genuinely impressive, though, with all cars getting an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system, digital radio, reversing camera, dual-zone air conditioning, heated front seats with powered lumbar support for the driver, push-button start, automatic emergency braking and lane keep assist.

Our Design trim car, one below the range-topper, also boasted navigation, rain-sensing wipers, power-adjustable heated wing mirrors and rear privacy glass.

Despite its extended hiatus in Europe, more cars bearing the Corolla name - 45 million and counting - have actually been sold globally than any other model.

FAST FACTS

Toyota Corolla Design 1.8 VVT-i Hybrid Hatchback

Price: £25,830

Mechanical: 178bhp, 1,798cc, 4cyl petrol-electric hybrid engine driving front wheels via automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 112mph

0-62mph:10.9 seconds

Combined MPG: 62.7

Insurance Group: 15

C02 emissions: 83g/km

Bik rating: 22%

Warranty: 5yrs/100,000 miles

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