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What Car? says

4 out of 5 stars

For Decent room, a solid interior and a good drive. Reliable, too

Against It's expensive and the base diesel engine is gutless

Verdict Best ever Corolla

Go for… 1.6 T3

Avoid… 89bhp 2.0 turbodiesel

Toyota Corolla Hatchback
  • 1. Look out for condensation, which can appear in the rear lamp clusters
  • 2. Brakes have been known to squeal irritatingly
  • 3. There was a recall becuase of possible problems with the brakes in 2002
  • 4. Ensure that recall work to the airbags was done
  • 5. Make sure that recall work for possible gearbox damage was completed
  • 6. There's good room for adults in the back seats
  • 7. Cabin is roomy and well built
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Toyota Corolla Hatchback full review with expert trade views

While all previous Toyota Corollas may have enjoyed an enviable reputation for reliability, they also suffered from something of a white good’s feel. Yes, they did the job that was required of them, but like a fridge or washing machine, you didn’t particularly care for them.

This one is different. For a start, it looks more solid and expensive than previous models, something that’s reflected in the smartly designed, roomy, high-quality interior. Unlike previous versions there’s decent room for adults in the back seats.

On top of that, Toyota also improved the drive significantly with this model. It’s pretty much as good to drive as a Ford Focus, even though its handling may not be quite as involving. Comfort and composure are excellent in all conditions.

The engine range is strong with a choice of three diesel and three petrols, while safety and equipment levels are reasonable.

Trade view

Kurtis Williams

Uninspiring to look at and not many on the road. Simple control layout

Kurtis Williams
Buyer,
Lex Vehicle Leasing

All models have a four-star Euro NCAP safety rating, but our preference is for the more practical five-door hatchback over the three-door hatch or the saloon. All come with decent boot space, but the saloon’s engine range is limited.

Steer clear of the early, less powerful 89bhp 2.0-litre D-4D engine which struggles when the car is fully laden. Its replacement, from May 2003, was only a 1.4-litre, but it does a better job, although you'll need to stretch to the 114bhp 2.0 D-4D for the strongest diesel punch.

However, when you take cost into account, best of all is the eager-revving 109bhp 1.6 petrol, while the 95bhp 1.4 petrol puts in a reasonable, if less swift, performance.

Of the various trims, we recommend T3, as air-con was only standard on T2 models following the facelift in July 2004. T3, on the other hand, features climate control, alloy wheels and rear electric windows over the already generous T2. Furter up the range, and the price lists, T Spirit cars get an electric sunroof.

Trade view

John Owen

Practical and reliable - buy one

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford

Even if you find the Corolla you’re after, don’t expect to pick it up for next to nothing. This version holds on to more of its value than previous models and you’ll be able to pick up rivals like the Vauxhall Astra and the Renault Megane for less cash. Diesel Corollas hold their value better than petrols, making our 1.6 T3 5dr an even more appealing buy.

On the other hand, running costs are fine, and fuel economy is good right across the range. Of the two mainstream petrol engines the 1.4-litre is marginally the more economical, returning 42.2mpg compared with the 1.6-litre’s 40.4mpg. The later 114bhp 2.0-litre turbodiesel returns 49.6mpg and the 1.4 an outstanding 58.9mpg.

Insurance for the range begins as low as group 3, and the most expensive model to run is the T Sport Compressor. With a 215bhp 1.8-litre supercharged petrol engine, it sold in small numbers and returned only 30.7mpg and sat in group 16 insurance.

Trade view

Kurtis Williams

Uninspiring to look at and not many on the road. Simple control layout

Kurtis Williams
Buyer,
Lex Vehicle Leasing

Toyota drivers seem to have little to complain about, according to the JD Power Customer Satisfaction Survey and similar studies. Complaints that do exist centre on annoyances as opposed to major faults, irritations like condensation in the rear lamp clusters and squealing brakes.

This Corolla has not been without its faults in other areas, but Toyota appears to have been quick to recognise and rectify them by issuing recalls. In 2002 there were recalls over brake concerns and possible gearbox damage. Front passenger airbag worries arose in 2004, more brake trouble in 2005 and further airbag concerns in 2006.

Full details are available at the Vehicle and Operator Safety Agency website at vosa.gov.uk. Just make sure the car you are considering has had the necessary work completed.

Trade view

John Owen

Practical and reliable - buy one

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford
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