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Facelifted base Corolla cracks $20K

Nostril-damis: Toyota predicts Corolla’s new proboscis will keep it on top of the sales tree.

New Corolla hatch abandons $19,990, but the 'old' sedan continues at that price

1 Jun 2004

TOYOTA’S facelifted Corolla range will be more expensive.

On sale this month (June 7 for wholesale buyers, June 17 for retail), the big-selling entry level Ascent’s ask will ascend by $500.

But the price rise is only for the Japanese-built hatchback (now $20,490) and wagon (now $21,890), since they are the sole recipients of the facelift.

The current Corolla Ascent sedan continues from $19,990 for now.

It – along with the outgoing hatchback range – is sourced from Toyota’s South African assembly plant, and gets the facelift from September.

This is due to that factory’s lag time in implementing the changes.

It means new and old Corolla will co-exist until then.

Toyota says it has current stocks of the 140kW Corolla Sportivo hatchback to last until September, since South Africa is the only source for this particular model.

Toyota will revert to sourcing the facelift hatch range from South Africa in September.

The other big news is the inclusion of the Ascent Sport, a youth-bating entry level hatch-only $1500 package that features air-conditioning, alloy wheels, a rear spoiler and body-coloured trim.

Toyota primed us for the Ascent Sport with the similarly equipped limited edition and now discontinued Corolla TTR range released in March.

It sits above the Ascent but below the Conquest and Levin. The luxury Ultima hatch is history.

The changes are mostly cosmetic, limited on the hatchback to a redesigned grille, bumper, Echo-like teardrop headlights incorporating driving lights and tail-lights.

Meanwhile, the wagon continues its slight nose differentiation with new headlights without the teardrop, a differently revised grille, lip spoiler and tail-lights.

Inside, both variants have new colours and trim.

Equipment levels also rise. All models gain improved audio and headlight performance and body-coloured trim.

The Conquest adds UV-cut glass and one-touch power window operation while the Levin wagon’s features list now matches the hatchback versions.

Both Levin styles now sport front fog lights, Optitron instrumentation, a four-spoke steering wheel, leather gear knob, chrome-finish air vents and cloth-covered lid and cassette box.

The Corolla’s competition must be heaving a big sigh of relief at Toyota's decision to increase pricing.

Ford’s previous Australian boss Geoff Polites recently admitted to GoAuto that as long as Toyota stayed sub-$20K with its entry level Corolla, it would have to do the same with Focus.

Currently the Holden Astra City, Mitsubishi Lancer ES and Nissan Pulsar ST (which started the present $19,990 small-car price war in the late 1990s) all kick off at that level.

And Holden is unlikely to maintain this position when its all-new Astra arrives very late this year or early next.

This Corolla generation, the ninth since 1966, debuted in December 2001 and has consistently secured the top-selling small car mantle from the previously dominant Holden Astra.

To the end of April, 12,439 Corollas have been sold, 1330 more than the same time last year. Meanwhile, the second-placed Astra recorded 7933 sales, down almost 1000 from the year before.

But Toyota must be watching the Mazda 3 very closely, with its sales tally of 6752 units about 10 per cent more than its 323 Astina/Protege predecessor could post over the same period in 2003.

The new prices for the revised Corolla range are:
  • Corolla Ascent sedan: $19,990 (pre-facelift car)
  • Corolla Ascent hatch: $20,490 (up $500)
  • Corolla Ascent wagon: $21,890 (up $500)
  • Corolla Ascent Sport hatch: $21,990 (new model)
  • Corolla Conquest sedan: $24,240 (pre-facelift car)
  • Corolla Conquest hatch: $24,375 (up $135)
  • Corolla Conquest wagon: $26,075 (up $235)
  • Corolla Levin hatch: $28,395 (up $105)
  • Corolla Levin wagon: $29,655 (up $565)
  • Corolla Sportivo hatch: $29,990 (pre-facelift car)
  • Corolla Ultima sedan auto: $30,990 (pre-facelift car)
Note: Auto adds $1850 to all models except Sportivo.

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