Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
The entry-level 1.8-litre hybrid has a relatively modest 120bhp. It feels noticeably slower than the 123bhp 1.0-litre Ford Focus (Ecoboost 125), but its acceleration is still adequate in most situations – even when joining motorways. The only time you’ll really wish you had a bit more oomph is when you need to overtake slower traffic on country roads.
The 177bhp 2.0-litre hybrid is much punchier and responds far more eagerly when you squeeze the accelerator pedal. It’s far from a “hot estate", but when we tested one at our private test track it completed the run from 0-60mph in just 8.1 seconds. It’s definitely better suited to outside lane motorway driving than the entry-level 1.8 and copes better when fully laden.
Suspension and ride comfort
The Corolla is effectively the Goldilocks of estate cars when it comes to ride quality, striking an almost perfect balance between suppleness and control. Let us explain.
By being firmer than the Skoda Octavia Estate but softer than the Focus Estate, the Corolla has enough compliance to take the worst out of big bumps and potholes yet never feels floaty over sudden crests. The ride also remains brilliantly composed over the sort of scarred and patched-up surfaces you find in most towns and cities.
A jacked-up, off-road inspired Trek version is available, but its added ground clearance doesn’t translate into a more comfortable ride.
When driven in a leisurely fashion, the Corolla Touring Sports handles well enough. The steering is pretty accurate and builds weight in a predictable and reassuring fashion. There’s a decent feeling of composure as well, provided you don't expect really quick changes of direction. Trek models handle much the same as regular versions.
When you start to push harder, though, you notice that it's less keen to tuck its nose into corners than the Focus Estate or even the Octavia Estate and runs out of front-end grip sooner than either. Put simply, if you want a car that’ll have you grinning on a challenging road, there are better options.
Noise and vibration
One great thing about hybrids is how hushed they are when you’re just pootling around town. Because the electric motor can manage on its own in stop-start traffic, progress is virtually silent and the petrol engine doesn’t spoil the peace too much when it does cut in to provide assistance.
On faster roads, though, particularly those with inclines, the Corolla Touring Sports’ petrol engine begins to whine away noticeably. The blame for this lies with its CVT automatic gearbox, which causes engine revs to abruptly soar during moderate to hard acceleration, remaining high until you reach your chosen cruising speed. This issue is more pronounced with the 1.8 engine than the punchier and noticeably smoother 2.0-litre.
Tyre and wind noise in the 1.8-litre hybrid aren't as well suppressed as they might be, but the 2.0-litre hybrid is better, thanks to the fitment of 'acoustic' side glass.
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