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Car of the Year Awards 2024: Family Car of the Year
There are several types of family car, but here we’re looking at traditional hatchbacks: large enough to be practical, yet compact enough to be easy and enjoyable to drive...
Toyota Corolla 1.8 Hybrid Icon
Some movies and television shows can be panned by critics but go on to be smash hits with viewing audiences. Equally, the opposite can be true, with the paying public staying away in droves, despite critical acclaim. But sometimes things get made that are adored by audiences and reviewers alike – Friends being one example. After all, who didn’t (or doesn’t) like Friends? Likewise, the Toyota Corolla is a car that works for nearly everyone.
Its popularity with car buyers is unquestionable; through 12 generations, it’s been the world’s best-selling car for most of the past five decades. Moreover, in the face of spiralling costs in most parts of the new car market, the hybrid Corolla’s blend of still-sensible prices and outstanding fuel efficiency has tipped the balance in its favour to beat last year’s family car category winner, the Honda Civic, which is now too pricey for us to wholeheartedly recommend.
True, the Civic accelerates a bit harder, but the entry-level 1.8-litre Corolla (which we’d choose over the more powerful 2.0-litre option) matches equivalent rivals such as the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf, delivering more than enough performance for most people’s needs. At the same time, well over 50mpg is easily achievable in real-world use, especially if a lot of your driving is around town, where the hybrid Corolla can run on electric power alone at times.
With this level of efficiency, the Corolla makes a great deal of sense for private buyers and company car drivers alike. However, there’s more to it than just numbers. The Corolla is one of the most comfortable cars in the class, with a plusher ride than a Focus yet better body control than a Peugeot 308. And although it isn’t quite as agile as the Focus and Civic, it’s still a fine-handling car that you’ll find pleasingly reassuring to drive.
Inside, the Corolla is restrained in its design but mostly very user-friendly in layout, including intuitive physical buttons and knobs for the air-con controls. Everything feels built to last, with good-quality materials wherever your fingers roam, and our preferred entry-level Icon trim comes with all the kit you’re likely to need, including heated front seats. Six-footers will find the rear seats a bit tight for space, though, and the boot is only average for the class, albeit slightly bigger than the Golf’s.
On top of its other merits, you can count on the Corolla being reliable, and there’s the back-up of a warranty that can be stretched to a class-leading 10 years or 100,000 miles if you follow the servicing schedule via a Toyota workshop. That’s real long-term peace of mind for you.
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