Toyota Corolla hybrid review
|Car type||Fuel economy||CO2 emissions||0-62mph|
The latest Toyota Corolla brings back a name that was familiar on UK roads through the 80s and 90s. It serves as a replacement for the Toyota Auris, continuing that model's choice of hatchback and Touring Sports estate bodystyles, as well as adding the option of a saloon.
As of early 2020, this generation of the Corolla is only available with hybrid power: you have a choice of a 1.8-litre setup (also found in the Toyota Prius and Toyota C-HR) as well as a powerful 2.0-litre (albeit only with the more expensive, higher trim levels). A new trim level – GR Sport – was also added to the range in 2020 to give the Corolla some more showroom appeal.
The Auris was a worthy but rather dull car that looked pretty lacklustre next to the likes of the Volkswagen Golf, Ford Focus, Honda Civic and Peugeot 308. The Corolla moves the game on considerably, with genuinely eye-catching looks, a better driving experience and a much-improved interior. It's still not quite as sharp to drive as a Focus (largely due to the hybrid's CVT gearbox), but it's now a genuine contender in the class.
CO2 emissions as low as 101g/km and economy as high as 66mpg bode well for running costs. Toyota refers to the Corolla, like its other hybrids, as 'self-charging', which means its batteries draw power from the engine and regenerative braking rather than being plugged in to charge. The Corolla can cover short distances at low speeds in zero-emissions electric mode, but not nearly as much as plug-in rivals like the Toyota Prius Plug-In, Hyundai Ioniq Plug-In and Kia Niro PHEV.
The latest Corolla is well equipped, with a barrage of up-to-date safety equipment standard across the range. We reckon most buyers will want to step up from entry-level Icon to Icon Tech to get a few useful items such as sat nav; Design and Excel are positively bursting with kit, but start to look quite expensive. GR Sport models get a cosmetic makeover inside and out plus some extra kit; it slots in between Design and Excel in the range.
Inside, there's attractive, high-tech design and decent amount of space in the front, rear and boot. The Skoda Octavia is still the practicality king among family cars, but the Corolla doesn't disgrace itself in this respect. And for those who regularly carry big loads, there's always the Touring Sports estate, available for not much more money.
A 1.8-litre Corolla Icon Tech hatchback makes for a great-value family car, and while the 2.0-litre's significant extra power is welcome in certain situations, the resulting reduction in efficiency is less so. If you want the Prius' clever hybrid technology, but aren't keen on its space-age looks, the Corolla is a great choice.
For more on the Toyota Corolla, read on for the rest of our in-depth review.