Toyota Corolla review

Category: Family car

Section: Introduction

Available fuel types:hybrid
Available colours:
Toyota Corolla 2020 award pic
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  • Toyota Corolla 2020 award pic
  • Toyota Corolla GR 2020 rear tracking
  • Toyota Corolla GR 2020 RHD dashboard
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  • Toyota Corolla GR 2020 RHD infotainment
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  • Toyota Corolla 2020 RHD front seats
  • Toyota Corolla 2020 award pic
  • Toyota Corolla GR 2020 rear tracking
  • Toyota Corolla GR 2020 RHD dashboard
  • Toyota Corolla GR 2020 RHD rear seats
  • Toyota Corolla GR 2020 RHD infotainment
  • Toyota Corolla 2020 RHD boot open
  • Toyota Corolla GR 2020 RHD right wide front tracking
  • Toyota Corolla 2020 RHD front seats
RRP £24,195What Car? Target Price from£22,799

Introduction

What Car? says...

So, you don’t want a diesel. The petrol cars you’ve looked at aren’t frugal enough and a pure electric car simply won’t cover the mileage you need. It’s a common conundrum for the modern car buyer. But before you tear your hair out, there could be an answer: a hybrid, like the Toyota Corolla.

Now, some hybrids need to be charged up overnight to get the best from them, but you don’t have to worry about any of that business with the Corolla; you simply treat it like a regular petrol car and let it sort out the electrical nitty gritty for itself. It has a small electric motor, to improve fuel economy or performance as necessary, and a little battery, which is charged by recovering energy from the brakes as you slow down.

When it comes to CO2 emissions and, officially at least, fuel economy, this halfway house between a petrol and pure electric car certainly delivers some impressive numbers. And, thanks to tax advantages, the Corolla looks to be much cheaper to run as a company car than any of its diesel rivals.

Put simply, the Corolla offers many of the same advantages as Toyota’s own Prius, but with far more conventional looks. But how does it square up against rival hybrid family cars, such as the Hyundai Ioniq? And should you consider a Corolla over conventionally powered big-hitters, which include the Ford Focus, Volkswagen Golf and Skoda Octavia?

Stay with us over the next few pages and we’ll tell you all you need to know. And don’t forget, if you want to buy a Toyota Corolla, or indeed any other new car, head over to New Car Buying pages to find out how much you could save without any awkward haggling.

Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox

The entry-level 1.8 Petrol Hybrid 122 has a modest 120bhp, which means a relatively leisurely 10.9sec from 0-62mph. That's noticeably slower than a Ford Focus 1.0 Ecoboost 125 petrol, but its acceleration is still perfectly adequate for everyday driving, including on motorways. The only time you’ll really wish for a bit more oomph is when you need to overtake dawdling motorists on country roads.

Fortunately, the 177bhp 2.0 Petrol Hybrid 184 is much punchier and responds far more eagerly when you squeeze its accelerator pedal. It’s far from a hot hatch, but definitely better suited to outside-lane motorway driving, making swift progress much less stressful.

Suspension and ride comfort

Fancy a bit of pampering? Well, forget the spa and buy yourself a Corolla instead because, along with the VW Golf, it's one of the most comfortable cars in the class. It has softer suspension than, say, the Ford Focus, so it smoothes off the rough edges of road ridges better and fidgets less on patchy sections of motorway.  

The trade-off is a little more body bounce along undulating roads than you get in some rivals, but if you enjoy a bit a softer edge then you may consider that a small price to pay. The only thing we'd say is avoid the bigger 18in wheels fitted to the GR Sport and Excel trims; they don't ruin the ride, but certainly add some extra jingle-jangle. 

Toyota Corolla GR 2020 rear tracking

Handling

Driven in a leisurely fashion, the Corolla's handling is fine. The steering is pretty accurate and builds weight predictably and reassuringly. There’s a decent feeling of composure as well, provided you don't expect really quick changes of direction.

When you start to push harder, though, you notice that the Corolla is less keen to tuck its nose in to corners than a Focus or even a Golf, and runs out of front-end grip sooner. Put simply, if you want a car that’ll have you grinning on a challenging road, there are better options.

Don't expect any more thrills from the sporty-looking GR Sport trim. It really is just a trim level; no added tautness is thrown in to improve the joy.

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, when the petrol engine cuts in to assist, it doesn’t spoil the peace too much.

Yet on faster roads, particularly those with inclines, the petrol engine begins to whine away noticeably. The blame for this lies with the Corollas CVT automatic gearbox, which causes engine revs to soar abruptly during moderate to hard acceleration and stay peaky until you reach cruising speed. This issue is more pronounced in the 1.8 than the punchier 2.0-litre. 

Tyre and wind noise in the 1.8-litre aren't as well suppressed as they might be – road noise is especially noticeable with bigger 18in alloys fitted – and a Focus is much more hushed at a steady 70mph. The 2.0-litre hybrid is better, benefiting from 'acoustic' side glass that seals out more noise. Meanwhile, while regenerative brakes (all hybrids and electric cars have these) can prove tricky to use smoothly, but, thankfully, the Corolla's brakes are less grabby than those of most hybrids – letting you draw to a halt gently without jolting your passengers. 

At a glance

Number of trims5 see more
Available fuel typeshybrid
MPG range across all versions53.3 - 62.8
Avaliable doors options5

How much is it?

Our pick

BEST PETROL/ELECTRIC HYBRID

OurPicks

Toyota Corolla 1.8 VVT-i Hybrid Icon Tech 5dr CVT

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What Car? Target Price: 23,786

RRP £25,245 Save at least £1,459

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