In-depth reviews

Toyota Corolla hybrid review

The stylish and efficient Toyota Corolla hybrid is an appealing family-hatchback choice, as well as being a big improvement on the old Auris

Toyota Corolla
Overall rating

4.0 out of 5

Pros

  • Drives well
  • Looks great
  • Choice of engines

Cons

  • CVT gearbox
  • Top trims expensive
  • Infotainment not great
ModelFuel economyCO2 emissions0-62mph
1.8-litre55-63mpg101-115g/km10.9s
2.0-litre50-58mpg111-127g/km7.9s

The Toyota Corolla has returned to UK roads, replacing the outgoing and somewhat forgettable Toyota Auris as the brand's Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus rival. Unlike those cars, the Corolla is only available with hybrid power, but it does continue the tradition of hatchback or Touring Sports estate bodystyles. 

Sharing underpinnings with the Toyota C-HR and Lexus UX SUVs, the latest Corolla is built in the UK, near Derby. There's a choice of either 1.8 or more powerful 2.0-litre petrol hybrid engines, while a GR Sport version arrived in 2020. The latter doesn't go faster, but has hot-hatch styling for a more aggressive look.

The Auris was a rather dull car that looked pretty lacklustre next to the likes of the Golf, Focus, Honda Civic and Peugeot 308, but the Corolla moves the game on considerably, with genuinely eye-catching looks, a better driving experience and 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 fuel economy as high as 63mpg 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 hybrids.

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. Further up, Design and Excel are positively bursting with kit, but start to look quite expensive. GR Sport cars get a sporty cosmetic makeover inside and out plus some extra kit; this trim slots in between Design and Excel in the range.

Inside, there's attractive, high-tech design and a 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 aforementioned 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 power hike 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 hybrid hatchback, read on for the rest of our in-depth review...

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