Toyota Corolla GR

Hybrid Sport 2.0

Toyota Corolla GR Sport, 2022, nose
Toyota Corolla GR Sport, 2022, front
Toyota Corolla GR Sport, 2022, tail
Toyota Corolla GR Sport, 2022, interior
Toyota Corolla GR Sport, 2022, rear seats

YOU may have bought a Toyota Corolla GR Sport for all the most sensible reasons - hybrid technology, economy and its practical nature.

But we can guarantee that despite the hatchback's no-nonsense nature and frugal thirst, there's a lot of fun and enjoyment to be had from the sharp looking five-door.

True, it's not the full-fat GR packing 300bhp punch that some markets are getting, but let's look and on the bright side and make the most of the 181bhp that propels one of the best platforms on the market and an engine that allows drivers to squeeze 50-plus miles from a single gallon of E10..

Its hybrid system is paired to an automatic CVT gearbox - not the most thrilling of transmissions. But artificial stepped ratios that can be worked through the steering wheel paddles help reduce a tendency to rev frenetically. In practice, the system works pretty well.

The GR Sport is well dressed and racier looking than the standard Corolla with a gaping black mesh grille, new bumper design and contrasting black roof and door mirrors. You also get bigger 18-inch wheels. So bags of impact.

It's spacious enough inside for passengers with ample shoulder room between those in the front seats. Legroom is a bit tight in the back but seats are well shaped and supportive.

The steering wheel adjusts for reach and height with a reasonable range of positions, making it easy to find the best driving position.

IN GR Sport trim you get part leather seating, front and rear parking sensors, heated front seats, LED headlights, Heated door mirrors and reversing camera, so there are few add-ons left. The only extra added to the car was the white pearlescent paintwork.

The spare wheel and battery support impinge somewhat on luggage room in the boot reducing cargo space to 313 litres which is smaller than most rival family hatches.

Despite its relative lightness, thanks mainly to the recently introduced Lexus-Toyota global architecture, it boasts a particularly stiff structure, hugely benefiting handling and economy, although max speed is a modest 112mph.

With pin-sharp steering and little body roll, the Corolla is agile and pleasantly responsive. Ride, though well controlled, is fairly firm but bad roads are taking in its stride with all but the worst bumps ironed out. No shortage of grip as the front tyres bite confidently into the road surface.

Overall handling ability is close to that of the Focus or Leon, which is worthy praise in this highly competitive market place.

It's generally quite refined with low noise levels at low or medium revs. Things get a bit more audible as the revs mount, mainly due to the CVT gearbox.

For such a nimble driver's car, economy is impressive. Even punted hard, the Corolla returned more than 45mpg, and on a long, more leisurely cross country run we squeezed 56 miles out of a gallon.

Now in its 12 incarnation, the Corolla which has notched up no fewer than 50-million sales worldwide, has moved from safe and a tad boring to entertaining and satisifying without losing any of its other more practical qualities.

£34,135

1,987cc, 4cyl, 181bhp petrol/hybrid engine driving front wheels via automatic gearbox

112mph

7.9sec

53.3

20

119g/km

27%

3yrs/60,000 miles

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