New Toyota Corolla hybrid 2019 review: prototype driven

We get behind the wheel of hybrid-only replacement for Toyota Auris

New 2019 Toyota Corolla

Toyota is resurrecting the Corolla name in the UK for its all-new 2019 challenger in the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus class. As a sign of the times, the car will be offered here as an automatic-gearbox petrol-electric hybrid only, although there will be a choice of the hatchback and 'Touring Sports' estate bodystyles familiar from the outgoing Auris.

The new Corolla arrives in UK showrooms in February 2019, but we've driven a late prototype version of a European-spec car. Under the metal, it shares much with the existing Toyota Prius and Toyota C-HR. It's 25mm lower, 30mm wider and 40mm longer than the Auris it replaces, giving it a sleeker and much more appealing look. The extra length promises increased space inside, too.

New Toyota Corolla hybrid engines

Two hybrid engine options are being offered for the Corolla: a 1.8 and a 2.0-litre petrol. The former makes 121bhp, getting the car from 0-62mph in 10.9 seconds and on to a top speed of 112mph. Efficiency figures are impressive: a claimed 83.1mpg and 76g/km CO2 output. The 2.0-litre has 'stepped' ratios built into its automatic gearbox to mimic a manual and makes a hefty 177bhp to cut the 0-62mph time to 7.9 seconds. Efficiency takes a hit, though: claimed fuel economy here is 74.3mpg and CO2 emissions go up to 86g/km.

On the road, the new Corolla is markedly better to drive than the outgoing Auris, with a stiffer body and greater agility. It's still not quite as satisfying a driver's car as a Ford Focus, however. The tradeoff is ride quality that may be a touch too harsh for those who just want a smooth and comfortable cruiser, and the smaller 17-inch alloy wheels may be smart choice for UK buyers given the typical quality of our roads.

Interior

For passengers, the Corolla is pretty spacious inside, with the exception of kneeroom in the rear, which could be tight for taller occupants. Both the driving position and the driver's visibility are excellent, however, and there has been a noticeable step up in interior quality compared to the Auris. On-board technology is good, too, with an eight-inch infotainment screen, wireless phone charging and a head-up display all featuring (although likely not all as standard). The lack of Apple CarPlay or Android Auto counts against the Corolla in this area, though.

The hatchback's boot will hold 361 litres, which is 20 litres less than a Volkswagen Golf will manage. However, that only applies to the 1.8-litre model; the 2.0-litre has less capacity still, at just 313 litres. Those who need more carrying capacity are catered for by the Corolla Touring Sports estate version. As well as a bigger boot, it has a 60mm longer wheelbase, which increases rear passenger room.

New Toyota Corolla Touring Sports estate

Estate buyers get the same choice of 1.8 or 2.0-litre petrol hybrid power on offer in the hatchback and from behind the wheel it feels almost identical to the hatchback. We suspect estate drivers who regularly tow or carry heavy loads will still prefer a powerful manual-gearbox diesel to what's on offer here, but the Corolla is far from sluggish in any case. Toyota has yet to reveal a maximum seats-down boot capacity for the Touring Sports, but with the rear seats in place, it'll hold 598 litres with the 1.8-litre engine and 581 litres with the 2.0-litre. A Volkswagen Golf Estate can hold about 25 litres more.

On the plus side, an adjustable boot floor and reversible carpeted or rubber lining boosts the Corolla's versatility and the rear seats can be dropped using remote handles. Elsewhere, the interior is a carbon copy of the hatchbacks, with the same quality materials and less-than-cutting-edge infotainment system.

Like the hatchback, the Corolla Touring Sports Estate will arrive in the UK in February 2019. Exact prices, specifications and trim levels have yet to be firmed up, but keep an eye on DrivingElectric for the latest news