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Toyota Corolla: Quieter, more modern and much more expensive

With a new battery and more electric power, the Toyota Corolla, which is only available as a hybrid, should be quieter, stronger and more economical. Inside it is generously digitized. How is the facelift model doing?

When the best-selling car of all time gets a facelift, the whole thing seems more pregnant than if you sharpened the LED strips on a VW Taigo. Well, now you have to honestly admit that Toyota did exactly that with the Corolla, because the design was left untouched except for details (radiator grille, headlights, rear bumper, wheels). Things went round under the sheet metal: more assistance, more power, more digital competence. ,

The two hybrid drives offered in Germany received new batteries. The large two-liter made the switch from nickel-metal hydride to lithium-ion technology, which the smaller 1.8er had already done when the current Corolla generation appeared. Toyota promises around 14% more capacity and more power. A new cell type, the associated changed frame structure of the battery and more space-saving wiring reduce the volume of the battery by around 30 percent in the 1.8 and by as much as 40 percent in the 2.0. ,

The improved packaging does not provide more space, but the drive can now use more electrical drive energy and further relieve the combustion engine. This not only helps with efficiency – both drives record CO₂ reductions according to WLTP – but also with performance. This increased from 122 to 140 hp in the 1.8 and from 184 to 196 hp in the 2.0. On the road, the 1.8er in particular benefits from the update. The small drive train previously known as the blubber now rotates around 500 revolutions less in almost all driving situations and is acoustically tamed by improved noise insulation.

Quieter and more powerful

Sure, the slightly strained, constant noise at high load remains, but the unit works much more powerfully and at the same time a little quieter. The factory specification for the standard sprint falls from 10.9 to 9.2 seconds. It reacts directly to commands from the accelerator pedal, and a B-gate in the transmission increases recuperation when the accelerator is released. Speaking of recuperation: The Corolla now also activates it depending on the traffic situation and uses it to brake before corners and when closing in on traffic. This happens relatively harmoniously, fluently and comprehensibly, which also applies to the driver assistance - for the most part. Adaptive cruise control and lane keepers work reliably and harmoniously, also thanks to new camera technology and a new front radar. When approaching the edge of the road, the Corolla steers late but gently back on track and doesn't seem overly aggressive or hectic. The only thing you shouldn't always trust is the traffic sign recognition, which, like many competing products, doesn't work with a particularly high hit rate.,

More pressure, more safety

Despite the increased sovereignty: When switching to the two-liter hybrid, it quickly becomes clear that it remains the drive of choice for the Corolla. Although it runs a touch rougher and louder, it always delivers more pressure, therefore has to work less often in high altitudes and is at least on the same level as its little brother in terms of consumption according to WLTP. The zero-hundred factory specification falls from 7.9 to 7.5 seconds. As with the 1.8, the increased e-power ensures a lower speed level. There is no B mode in the transmission, but there is an S lane, which always allows the combustion engine to run actively and at a slightly higher base speed, which improves the response. The shift paddles on the steering wheel have more of a decorative function, after all the system can only simulate shift stages and does not do this with every actuation. But the Corolla was never an athlete anyway and it won't be with the facelift either. The steering remains smooth but without setting standards for precision or feedback. suspension comfort? Is available, in curves with short heels, they sometimes but dryly bump into the front end. The body roll is limited and the Corolla remains neutral for a long time in brisk corners, regulating the excess speed gently and not excessively via ESP in the limit area. New safety systems such as the exit warning and an intersection assistant, which are standard on board along with the rest of the driving assistance, offer a further safety plus. ,

A temporary conversation

The interior of the 5-door Corolla remains narrow as usual. Neither the trunk (361 to 1,052 liters), which is difficult to load with a high and wide loading sill and with the step in the loading floor when the seats are folded down, nor the claustrophobic rear are convincing. With the Touring Sports station wagon, on the other hand, the space and trunk (596 to 1,606 liters) can keep up with the competition. In terms of quality, it remains with the proven, robust, neatly assembled Toyota material mix, which puts longevity ahead of flattery. There are advances to be noted further ahead, because like the RAV4, the Corolla also gets the new 10.5-inch, cloud-based infotainment system and the 12.3-inch, multi-configurable speedometer display. The basic operation via touch is logical, the always accessible direct selection fields on the edge make it easier to jump through the menus. Only in the settings does it quickly become boxy and sometimes illogical, since many vehicle settings are not on the touchscreen but on the speedometer display. The intelligent voice control understands free speech and acts quickly - just like the whole system. Climate settings, opening windows, jumping into a specific settings menu - all no problem.However, if the Internet connection does not work – and it often did when driving through Spain, which is actually blessed with very good network coverage – many voice functions are no longer available, including the important voice control for navigation. A similar thing happens if you don't renew the online service subscription, which expires four years after delivery. Voice control is then completely eliminated. ,

The new speedometer display impresses with its smooth graphics and high configurability. The driving assistance settings, on the other hand, have to be adjusted on the display using the steering wheel buttons, which makes for a lot of tedious clicking and isn’t exactly made easier by the numerous inscrutable abbreviations for the individual systems.

Sensitive premium

Nevertheless, the connectivity and drive updates are really good for the Corolla, upgrading it in the right places. You just have to somehow upgrade your own account so that the Corolla works, because the price increases are really tough. The basic price increases from 27,550 to 33,340 euros for the basic model with a small engine. But the large engine variant starting with the 5-door from the popular equipment line Team Germany also increases by an immense 5,390 euros. Also worthwhile: the surcharge of 1,900 euros for the two-liter hybrid drive and for those who need space the 1,200 euro surcharge for the station wagon. Whether Toyota will sell the 12,000 cars targeted for 2023 with the sharply increased prices remains to be seen. If not, the giant group will probably be able to cope, after all, the German market only accounts for around one percent of global Corolla sales. ,


The facelift noticeably improves drive comfort, but does not change the overall pragmatic character of the world's best-selling car. It is becoming more digital thanks to infotainment and display updates, the voice control is convincing, but needs more offline functions. As with many other manufacturers, the price increases are disproportionate.


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