Used Toyota Corolla Hatchback 1997 - 2002 review

Category: Family car

It'll get you from A to B reliably and reasonably safely

Toyota Corolla Hatchback (97 - 04)
  • Toyota Corolla Hatchback (97 - 04)
  • Toyota Corolla Hatchback (97 - 04)
Used Toyota Corolla Hatchback 1997 - 2002 review
Star rating

What's the used Toyota Corolla hatchback like?

The Corolla has always sold in vast numbers around the world, but has had to endure something of a bland reputation. This model, introduced in 1997 and face-lifted in 2000, was designed to up the tempo a little, but neither version will go down in history as handsome.

The good, but not that good story continues on the road. Although the petrol engines are impressive, the Corolla's drive is not on the pace of the equivalent Ford Focus or VW Golf. The ride feels too hard and the light steering too lifeless for the Corolla to sit in that company.


It'll get you from A to B reliably and reasonably safely

  • Good build quality, smooth petrol engines
  • reliability
  • Early diesel is sluggish and noisy, limited rear room

Similarly, although they're durable and hardwearing, the shiny plastics in the cabin aren't quite up to the mark either.

However boot space is reasonable, and the Corolla's safety features are impressive for a car launched in 1997. With twin airbags as standard it merited a three-star Euro NCAP safety rating at a time when the maximum possible score was four.

Ownership cost

What used Toyota Corolla hatchback will I get for my budget?

How much does it cost to run a Toyota Corolla hatchback?

Like most Toyotas of this generation, the Corolla enjoys a reputation for being fairly easy on the pocket. For a start, insurance is very reasonable. The highest rating is admittedly group 11, but the base 1.3, 1.4, 1.6-litre petrol and the entry-level 2.0-litre diesel all have a group 5 insurance rating.

Fuel economy is reasonable right across the range, too, with the 2.0-litre D4-D returning an official 48mpg. With 20,000-mile service intervals, this engine doesn't need to see the inside of a garage too often.

Toyota dealers may not be quite as cheap to pay per hour as a Skoda franchise, but the Japanese company's hourly rate is on a par with Ford's, Vauxhall's and Peugeot's. However, setting servicing costs aside, average repair rates will work out more expensive for the Toyota driver if the car is involved in an accident.

Our recommendations

Which used Toyota Corolla hatchback should I buy?

Which hatch you choose depends on what you want from it. The three-door is arguably the most stylish, but the five-door offers more practicality than it or the four-door saloon. Early cars had single round headlamps, while post-February 2000 cars, with their restyled front ends, feature twin headlamps.

Avoid the original 2.0-litre 71bhp diesel engine; it's noisy and slow, and better diesels followed with a 68bhp 1.9-litre unit and a 109bhp 2.0 D-4D turbodiesel. Of the four petrol engines - 1.3, 1.4, 1.6 and 1.8-litre - our favourite is the punchy, variable-valve-timing-equipped 109bhp 1.6-litre.

Although far from quick, the six-speed 1.3 G6 boasts a body-kit, six-speed gearbox, sports seats a CD player and air-con, but was discontinued in February 2000.

From all the various combinations, the post-Feb 2000 1.6 GLS is our choice, and comes with twin airbags, anti-lock brakes, air-con, CD-multi-changer, alloy-wheels, electric windows and an electric sunroof.


What alternatives should I consider to a used Toyota Corolla hatchback?