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Toyota Corolla to go large on active safety

Safety first: The Corolla will be the first small car to offer adaptive cruise control as standard across its range when it lobs in Australia.

Small-car safety benchmark to be reset by incoming 12th-generation Toyota Corolla

19 Apr 2018

TOYOTA Motor Corporation Australia (TMCA) has confirmed that the 12th-generation Corolla small car will reset the safety benchmark in its segment when the five-door hatchback hits showrooms in August.

Speaking to GoAuto at the HiLux national media launch in Port Augusta, South Australia this week, TMCA vice-president of sales and marketing Sean Hanley explained that autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-keep assist and adaptive cruise control will be standard across the entire Corolla range.

“It’s quite exciting actually and reconfirms Toyota’s commitment to safer cars – it’s a natural, progressive step for Toyota,” he said.

“I think our customers will be not only excited by the style and design of the new Corolla (and) the drive performance, but also they’ll welcome all the new safety specifications that will come along with it.”

Significantly, no other model in the small-car segment currently offers such a suite of advanced driver-assist safety technologies as standard, putting the Corolla in a good position to achieve a five-star rating from the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) under its stricter 2018 standards.

The existing Corolla hatchback line-up is offered with autonomous emergency braking and lane departure warning as part of an optional safety package that costs $750 and is standard on the flagship ZR grade.

When questioned if the Corolla, which will continue to be imported from Japan, is set for an associated increase in cost, Mr Hanley stressed that pricing should be similar to the current model.

“We believe we will bring Corolla to market at a very competitive price. It is specced-up, that is true, but we still recognise that we need to position that car appropriate to the market segment. So, it will still be an affordable vehicle.”

The Corolla hatchback currently ranges in price from $20,190 before on-road costs for the manual Ascent to $30,020 for the automatic ZR, but the line-up is expected to expand further with the availability of more hybrid variants.

Following the C-HR small SUV’s lead, the Corolla hatchback has adopted an edgier exterior design, which Mr Hanley expects to resonate with new-vehicle buyers.

“Toyota’s got a commitment to bringing fun-to-drive cars to the market, and I think we’ve been on this journey for a little while now,” he said.

“Corolla’s another progressive step in relation to a car that people can be really proud of, stand out in the crowd, offer some individuality. I think this is the cue to the styling in the future with Toyota.”

While Mr Hanley would not be drawn to sales projections for the new model, he indicated that it is expected to be a strong performer like its predecessor.

“Corolla has a wonderful sales record in Australia, and after driving the car myself … I come away really confident about that car and its future success in the Australia market,” he said.

“Even though we’re seeing kind of a decline in the passenger market overall, that (small-car) segment’s alive and very large. So, Corolla plays a very important role in our model line-up.”

Sales of the Corolla took a hit last year, with 37,353 examples sold to the end of 2017, representing a 7.4 per cent decrease over the 40,330 deliveries made in 2016.

However, it was still the best-selling model in the sub-$40,000 small-car segment and the most popular passenger vehicle overall, charging ahead of the Mazda3 (32,690 units), Hyundai i30 (28,780), Kia Cerato (18,731) and Volkswagen Golf (18,454), among others.

This downwards trajectory has continued in 2018, with 9264 vehicles finding homes to the end of March, equating to a 6.5 per cent drop over the 9909 examples sold during the same period in 2017.

Mr Hanley explained that while the Corolla will launch in five-door hatchback form, the four-door sedan is “some time away yet” as it runs on a different life cycle to its sibling.

Pricing and specification for the Corolla hatchback will be released closer to its release date in August.

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