2014 Toyota Corolla

Consistent for five decades

"26 million units out of the total 40 million Corollas sold worldwide are still on road"

"We are talking about a special toy, that's exactly the case of Toyota Corolla"

"The car is spacious inside and offers a better head and leg room"

"Corolla was excellent in handling, said Ershad" 

For a child, playing with only one toy throughout a day is quite boring. Now if he decides to keep it for an extra day or more, we are then talking about a special toy. That's exactly the case with the Toyota Corolla. So much reputation for being a reliable, durable and a safe car that 26 million units out of the total 40 million Corollas sold worldwide are still on road. Close to five decades since introduced, late last year Toyota launched the 11th generation of Corolla at the Dubai International Motor show. Toyota figures suggest that the model accounts for 15 percent of the company's global sales. We took the top range "Limited" edition 2.0 Corolla wrapped in Blue metallic for a test drive and here's our take.

Exterior
The bestseller had no issues in the market until the Koreans got serious, plus the fact that people started to look for more - not just a basic, good looking car. Style, infotainment, safety features and a bit of elegance inside is a MUST now. While all this happened, Corolla stood conservative to any revisions and that was a mistake. So as expected, we noticed a few mandatory tweaks of which the extended wheelbase was prominent. The car has an extra length of 10 cm and that adds to a little more space inside. Further, it has lower center of gravity by reducing the vehicle's height by 5mm and this should favor the handling part that we'll talk about later.

Finally, Corolla cracks to change a bit. Straight lines sideways and attractive curves in the front end up drawing an image which looks bold and dynamic. As our tester is a Limited edition 2.0L, it's got plated front grille and door handles, retractable door mirrors, halogen projector headlamps and Day Time Running Lights (DRLS). Wheel arches look quite wide over the 16" alloy wheels. Toyota has six exterior color options for customers.

Interior
The car is spacious inside and offers better head and leg room for rear passengers. Sunroof is a new addition along with the cruise control feature. The lightweight three spoke steering wheel was leather wrapped but the seats were not. It's got a vast dashboard up front which again makes you feel big inside. Upholstery was all fabric and we noticed a few soft touch areas on the dash and door shelves. There are a few cup holders and pockets for storage and the boot was roomy too. Other features include Optitron, central locking, foldable rear seats, electrical power steering, Smart entry a Push Start button. We've got a single zone automatic A/C in the new Corolla.

Drivetrain
Under the hood, the old 1.8 liter Corolla is replaced by a 2.0Liter Four cylinder In-Line type engine. The new engine has a mere 5hp improvement leading to a final output of 143hp at 6,200rpm. The torque goes 187Nm at 3,600rpm to front wheels. Rear suspension is Torsion beam and the transmission is still the same 4 speed automatic.

Features
On the safety part, we have list starting from ABS, EBD and brake assist for the braking department and dual airbags for the driver and co-passenger in the front. No side airbags, rear A/C vents and parking sensors - these little things certainly make an impression.

For entertainment, we have a six speaker system with inputs open for CD/AUX/AM/FM and USB. Bluetooth can be used to sync smartphones but can't play music. The center console lacked a colorful display and had a set of blank switches leaving us clueless. This is one department that needs serious attention. I mean, look at your counterparts in the market.

Driving Impressions
The Corolla had excellent handling and that is due to its rigid body and light weight thanks to the high strength steel frame. With limited body roll, the car was impressive on corners. No complaints about the ride quality; so full marks for a comfy ride. This was all expected, to be honest. How else would you expect Corolla to have existed for over 47 years?

Most of the time the rev stayed close to 3,000 rpm, hence, always in "ready" mode; but mind you, it can upset the car's fuel mileage. The display showed a rating of 9L/100km which is not bad for a sedan. We heard some noise, in part from the engine and road/wind upshot. With a good low end torque and quick gear shifts, the car was always in a mood to turn up quick but at the same time we noticed an occasional lapse in responding. Brakes were good and they didn't give me any trouble. The steering was very light with quick feedback. The swing movement of steering was easy, though I wish it was little tighter for my confidence. As an overall note, I had a decent ride with the Corolla and much of my regards goes to its handling capability.

Verdict
Toyota has done a good job in getting the Corolla back onto the main stage. However, I think there's more to be done in the infotainment and engine transmission department. Sort them both out and you go for another long stretch of dominance. Lately, we have started to see a trend where auto manufacturers who figure out faults, don't wait long to act and that's always good news. 

Pros: Good ride handling, spacious cabin, fuel efficient
Cons: Lacks infotainment features, unwanted noise
Rivals: Honda Civic, Nissan Sentra, Ford Focus, Chevrolet Cruze, Hyundai Elantra, Mazda 3
Engine: 2.0L, inline-4, 143 hp, 187 Nm
Transmission: 4-speed automatic, FWD
Performance: 0-100 kph: 10 sec, 8.5 L /100 km, Top speed: 195 kph
Chassis: 1350 kg

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