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Driven: All-new Toyota Corolla sedan sets sail

Toyota seeks broader buyer base with larger, hybrid-equipped new Corolla sedan

6 Dec 2019

TOYOTA Australia is hoping to attract a broader range of buyers with its new-generation Corolla sedan, which offers increased space and practicality over its hatch sibling while offering hybrid power for the first time.


Arriving in Australia more than a year after the hatch, the new Corolla sedan joins other Toyota Australia product including the hatch, RAV4, Camry, Prius, Prius C, Prius V and C-HR with the availability of hybrid, which the brand hopes will increase its appeal.


Speaking to journalists at the launch of the new Corolla sedan, Toyota Australia vice-president of sales and marketing Sean Hanley said the increased space offered in the sedan, along with its safety credentials and powertrain choice, should appeal to more potential customers.


“We think because of the styling, particularly also the interior space, the 470-litre boot space, we think the range of buyers will broaden on this car,” he said.


“Certainly it will appeal to young families, I think it will appeal to corporates and company car drivers in the future.


“I think it will have a strong appeal to the car-sharing business, Uber-type buyers. So I think it will have a broad range, I think it will also appeal to young drivers, therefore parents who are looking to put their younger family into vehicles for the first time.”


Toyota still sees the hatch as being overwhelmingly the most popular body style, predicted to outsell the sedan by a factor of three to one, but the company is hoping the four-door version can increase its share in the mainstream small car segment, which is down 18.3 per cent overall this year.


“We believe that Corolla has a super-important role to play in that market for Toyota Australia,” Mr Hanley said.


“We think and believe that this sedan with its offering of styling, safety and hybrid variant will increase (Corolla sales volume) maybe slightly, but hopefully it will increase our overall mix.


“We’ll see a bit of movement, and perhaps it will stimulate this market a little bit more in terms of our own mix.


“I don’t think it’s going to stimulate the market and make it go into growth overall, but from a 75:25 mix, this could maybe go up more than 25, maybe somewhere like 70:30 in the future.”


The new three-grade range kicks off from $23,335 plus on-road costs for the petrol-manual Ascent Sport grade, topping out at $33,635 for the top-spec petrol-auto ZR.


Pricing for the sedan mirrors that of its hatch counterpart except for the ZR sedan which matches the ZR hybrid hatch, due to the fitment of a power-operated sunroof on the sedan.


Toyota Australia general manager of product planning and development Rod Ferguson said the company wanted to introduce hybrid power on its volume-selling variants first, but was open to offering a hybrid on the ZR.


“What we decided to do at launch was launch with the volume models like Ascent Sport and SX, which we know is going to be a solid percentage with petrol as well,” he said.


“So we’ll still monitor that with whether we can provide a ZR hybrid down the track, but in terms of resource prioritisation and development prioritisation we’ve started with those two models.”


The hybrid powertrain teams a 1.8-litre Atkinson-cycle petrol engine producing 72kW/142Nm with two electric motors that develop 53kW/162Nm, for a combined output of 90kW and an unspecified amount of torque.


Driving the front wheels via a continuously variable transmission (CVT), the hybrid sips 3.5 litres of fuel per 100km while emitting 81 grams of CO2 per kilometre.


For petrol variants, the 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine has been swapped out with a bigger 2.0-litre unit that produces 125kW of power and 200Nm of torque – 22kW/27Nm more than the 1.8.


Mated to a ‘10-speed’ CVT or six-speed manual on the base Ascent Sport grade, the petrol consumes 6.0-6.5L/100km on the official combined fuel economy cycle, and emits 137-151g/km of CO2.


Now riding on Toyota’s TNGA architecture that underpins a number of other models, the Corolla sedan has swapped out a torsion beam rear suspension for a more sophisticated multilink set-up, complemented by MacPherson struts at the front end.


Dimensions are largely unchanged over the outgoing model including its 470-litre boot, which vastly outstrips the 217L on all hatch variants bar the ZR hybrid which offers 333L.


Standard safety kit on all CVT-equipped grades includes the Toyota Safety Sense suite of technologies which bundles autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian (day and night) and cyclist (day) detection, active cruise control, lane-departure alert with lane-keep assist, road-sign assist, auto high beam, a reversing camera and seven airbags.


As per the hatchback, the Corolla sedan has a five-star ANCAP safety rating.


Entry-level Ascent Sport variants come standard with a new-generation 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth and USB ports, a 4.2-inch instrument cluster display, fabric upholstery, manual seat adjustment, manual air-conditioning, smart entry/start (hybrid only), electronic park brake, dusk-sensing LED headlights, rear foglights, 16-inch alloys with a full-size spare (petrol) or 15-inch hoops with a temporary spare (hybrid) and ventilated front/solid rear disc brakes.


Stepping up to the mid-level SX nets buyers a premium steering wheel with paddle shifters for petrol grades, a 7.0-inch instrument cluster display (hybrid only), single-zone climate control, wireless phone charging, smart entry/start, DAB+ digital radio, satellite navigation with live traffic updates and blind-spot monitoring.


The top-spec ZR adds an electric tilt and slide sunroof, 18-inch alloys with a temporary spare tyre, synthetic leather upholstery, heated sports front seats, eight-way adjustable power driver’s seat with lumbar support, a 7.0-inch instrument cluster, electrochromatic rearview mirror, ambient lighting, a head-up display and a nine-speaker JBL premium audio system.


Toyota is offering capped-price servicing for the Corolla sedan, with each of its first five services (at intervals of 12 months/15,000km) costing $175 per service.


With one month to go in 2019, Toyota has sold 27,691 examples of the Corolla, which is down 16.1 per cent over the same period last year.


It leads all comers in the competitive segment, ahead of the Hyundai i30 (26,443), Mazda3 (23,654) and Kia Cerato (20,270).



2019 Toyota Corolla sedan pricing*

Ascent Sport petrol $23,335
Ascent Sport petrol (a) $24,835
Ascent Sport hybrid (a) $26,335
SX petrol (a) $28,235
SX hybrid (a) $29,735
ZR petrol (a) $33,635

*Excludes on-road costs

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