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Geneva show: Toyota reveals sharper Corolla

Dash it: Toyota’s Corolla gets a classier dashboard in a mid-life facelift for its 11th-generation small car.

Corolla gets fresh look, sharper dynamics to keep Toyota’s small hatch on top

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Toyota logo3 Mar 2015

By RON HAMMERTON

TOYOTA has given its top-selling Corolla hatchback a design and engineering pull through to sharpen its styling, dynamics and fuel efficiency in an effort to maintain its customer appeal in the cut-throat small-car segment.

Revealed in its European Auris guise on the eve of the Geneva motor show and due in Australia about August, the facelifted Corolla gets more bling inside and out, with new chrome grille “wings” stretching the full width of the car and a new dash treatment with more upmarket materials.

The suspension and steering have been tweaked to improve ride, handling and “driver involvement” compared with the current model that was launched in Australia in 2012.

These changes include improved initial roll damping, less suspension friction and enhanced straight-line comfort, as well as heavier steering at higher speeds for more ‘feel’, courtesy of an electric steering mapping change.

The new grille includes a bigger Toyota badge sandwiched between the chrome “wings” that run along the leading edge of the bonnet to envelop the headlights for a “broader, more purposeful stance”.

The front and back bumpers are said to be “more muscular”, protruding further than before to improve the car’s design proportions.

Special effort has gone into the refreshed interior where designers have attempted to lift the ambience that, to many eyes, looked cheap compared with that of rivals such as the Mazda3 and Volkswagen Golf.

Grained surface plastics, instrument graphics and seat upholstery have all been raised to a new level, along with a less busy dash design that Toyota says now has a “reduced mass” and “more consistent shape”.

Airvents, door handles and the gear lever surround also have been remodelled.

Toyota Australia’s press release made no mention of the bigger in-dash infotainment touchscreen seen on the Auris, nor the “new safety equipment” mentioned previously.

While the 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine used in Australia will be carried over with the same 103kW of power, fuel economy is said to be improved. However, no revised fuel figures have been announced for the car that currently consumes 7.0 litres per 100km in six-speed manual guise and 6.6 litres with the automatic continuously variable transmission (CVT).

The changes are expected to apply only to the Japanese-built five-door hatchback, with the Thai-built sedan continuing with its current specification and styling.

The Corolla has been Australia’s top-selling car for the past two years, selling 43,735 sedans and hatches in 2014 – 422 units more that Mazda’s Mazda3.

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