In-depth reviews

Toyota Corolla hybrid engines, drive & performance

The Corolla hybrid is better to drive than its Auris predecessor; a choice of engines lets you prioritise economy or performance

Toyota Corolla
Overall rating

4.0 out of 5

Engines, drive & performance rating

3.5 out of 5

0-62mphTop speedDriven wheelsPower
7.9-10.9s112mphFront120-178bhp

Toyota hybrid buyers have traditionally just had the one engine to choose from, but the Corolla opens things up with a choice of either the familiar 1.8-litre setup seen in the Toyota C-HR and Toyota Prius, or a 2.0-litre making 178bhp that gives the car a pretty decent turn of speed.

Toyota Corolla hybrid 0-62mph, top speed and acceleration

Those in search of performance would be well advised to consider the 2.0-litre hybrid engine, but the cheaper and more efficient 1.8-litre will probably be sufficient for most. With a total power output of 178bhp, the 2.0-litre is a usefully strong engine that will make short work of towing, overtaking and high-speed motorway driving.

It'll get the Corolla from 0-62mph in just 7.9 seconds, while top speed is 112mph. On the downside, it's only available on the higher trim levels in the range (Design and Excel), making it a comparatively expensive proposition.

The 1.8-litre Corolla, on the other hand, uses basically the same drivetrain as the Prius. Also a four-cylinder engine, it makes 120bhp in total and will be the engine of choice for most Corolla buyers. Acceleration from 0-62mph takes a reasonable 10.9 seconds and like the 2.0-litre, top speed is 112mph.

Previously, lower trim levels of the Corolla hatchback were also available with a 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol engine, making 114bhp and getting the car from 0-62mph in 9.3 seconds. This engine was discontinued in early 2020, leaving the two hybrid options.

Handling

The Corolla is an undoubted improvement over its predecessor the Auris when it comes to driving enjoyment, with a stiffer body and greater agility. It's still not quite as satisfying a driver's car as a Ford Focus, however. The trade-off 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.

Contrary to what its appearance might lead you to believe, the Corolla GR Sport is no better or worse to drive than other larger-wheeled trim levels; its upgrades are entirely cosmetic, with no mechanical changes. New sports seats hold you nicely through the corners, but the GR Sport isn’t a proper hot hatch – even if it is priced like one.

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