Toyota Corolla, the best yet

Toyota Corolla, the best yet

Observer senior writer

Friday, February 21, 2020

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Wearing a nameplate that has been around for 50 years and now in its 12th generation, the 2020 Toyota Corolla is at its best iteration yet, reaping the benefits of moving to the brand's new global automotive platform: TNGA (Toyota New Global Architecture). This makes the Corolla the smartest, best-driving version of itself, despite such a lengthy production run.

The beauty isn't just skin deep, as the Corolla gets a major visual upgrade. There's not a bad angle on the Toyota. From the aggressive front grill with its futuristic triple J headlights to the faux light strip across the rear for some further upmarket styling.

It's just a good inside. Everything is well-designed, the long sweeping dash puts controls within reach. Soft-touch materials are at all the key contact points complemented by the right amount of piano gloss back trim. From the very comfortable seats, it's easy to operate the large touchscreen infotainment system that sits near the driver's eye line. Shortcut buttons down either side of the screen and steering wheel-mounted controls make operation even easier. All the common connectivity elements are present to allow audio through the six-speaker stereo system. The new underpinnings increase interior space and refinement. All passengers will be happy with the amount of room and trunk space. There is little noise intrusion enhancing the sense of comfort on long or short journeys.

The new 1.8-litre gives the Corolla newfound grunt working cohesively with the new Direct Shift CVT (continuously variable transmission). Toyota's Direct Shift CVT puts a physical first or launch gear for smooth effortless acceleration and cruising. Here all the new technology starts to pile up in the Corolla's favour. Packed with seven airbags, vehicle stability control, electronic brake distribution, the car gets even more intelligent with Toyota Safety Sense, which is a suite of four active safety elements: Adaptive Cruise Control; Automatic High Beams; Lane Departure Alert; and Pre-collision system.

Toyota Safety Sense wraps itself into the ease of operation of the Corolla. Adaptive Cruise Control gives the driver the ability to set three present distances when in operation, so once the Corolla senses a car ahead it automatically matches speed. The very same cameras are used in the Automatic High Beams as the car scans for headlights or rear tail lights to switch between its low or high beam to prevent dazzling of fellow motorists. As the Corolla is equipped with an electronic handbrake and power steering, the Pre-collision system and Lane Departure Alert show off how much smarter the car has become. Pre-collision senses rapidly decelerating cars around the driver and does three things: provide an alert; increase braking force, if pedal force is deemed insufficient; or brake fully automatically, if there's no driver input. Lane Departure Alert operates when the vehicle is able to detect lane markers. Once activated, if the vehicle should drift beyond these markers, the Corolla will either alert the driver or make small corrective inputs to bring the car back into its lane.

Even without all the technology, the physical upgrades are more than enough to bring the Corolla to a new level. It's a very easy car to get in, operate and is deceptively comfortable to drive. It cruises effortless with the new engine and transmission package, and while not sporty in any manner of the word it has more than enough body control to make it an enjoyable hustle through the corners at speed showing that the chassis dynamics are solid. Even better, the layer of new technology never interferes, on or off, the 2020 Corolla just works.


MODEL: 2020 Toyota Corolla L

ENGINE: 1.8 litre, four cylinder — 139bhp/126lb-ft

DRIVETRAIN: Direct Shift CVT/front-wheel drive

SUMMARY: Getting better with age like wine.

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