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Toyota restricts local Corolla range

One-trick pony: The Corolla wagon shown at the Paris motor show is unlikely to make it to Australia alongside the hatchback.

No Corolla diesel, hybrid, hot hatch or wagon variants in the pipeline for Australia

Toyota logo22 Oct 2012

TOYOTA claims that high cost and low demand are the chief reasons for the lack of diesel, petrol-electric hybrid and hotter turbo petrol versions in Australia of its new Euro-styled Corolla hatchback.

Australia’s top car brand has bucked the trend in the bustling small-car segment with its 11th-generation Corolla hatch, steadfastly limiting the choice of engine to a single 1.8-litre normally aspirated petrol unit developing 103kW/173Nm that is essentially carried over from the old model.

All major rivals – including the Mazda3, Hyundai i30, Holden Cruze, Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf – are available with a wider selection of petrol and diesel engines, and most already offer a performance version (Mazda3 SP25 and MPS, Ford Focus ST, and VW Golf GTI and R).

Hyundai outlined its intention to add a hot model of its own at the Australian International Motor Show last week, displaying a pair of almost production-ready SR i30 and Accent concepts with more power and torque, while Nissan also showed off a hot SSS version of its re-born Pulsar.

Further limiting the Corolla range is the absence of the European wagon version that premiered in Paris last month, Toyota Australia deeming the cost of importing the UK-built model too high and potential crossover with the Prius V wagon too great.

 center imageFrom top: Toyota Auris hybrid hatch Prius V 86.

This will leave Toyota without a direct rival for the Golf wagon, as well as the forthcoming Cruze wagon and Hyundai i30 wagon – both of which were displayed at AIMS ahead of showroom debuts next year.

The i30 wagon is also built in Europe, and until recently had been ruled out from local importation on the same grounds, but Hyundai Australia has taken advantage of favourable exchange rates and reversed its decision.

As we have reported, the new Japanese-built Corolla hatch will sell alongside the existing sedan variant for at least another year, with the new-generation sedan still in development under a different chief engineer.

Toyota Australia corporate manager of product planning Greg Gardner said the company’s decision not to take the European-built Corolla diesel was also the result of falling sales of small diesels in Australia.

Mr Gardner said diesel engines account for only six per cent of small-car sales here this year.

“Diesel goes really well in trucks and SUVs, which is reflected by sales of diesel in the small-car market,” he said.

“We’re really the hybrid fuel company and the hybrid (Corolla) is something that we are actively studying.”

However, Toyota Australia executive director of sales and marketing Matthew Callachor said the petrol-electric version sold as the Auris hybrid in Europe had been all but ruled out “given the exchange rates and cost”.

In Europe, Toyota offers two turbo-diesel Corolla variants – a 66kW/205Nm 1.4-litre and a 91kW/310Nm 2.0-litre – both available with idle-stop and consuming as little as 3.8L/100km on the combined cycle.

From 2014, these engines will be replaced by BMW units.

The Corolla Hybrid utilises the same Hybrid Synergy Drive system as other Toyota models, combining the same 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol engine found in Australian Corolla models with an electric motor for a combined cycle economy figure of 3.4L/100km.

In terms of a potential hot hatch, Mr Callachor said nothing was available, and that the company felt its sporting customers were provided for adequately by the less practical, essentially two-seater 86 rear-drive coupe, which is powered by a 147kW/205Nm 2.0-litre normally aspirated engine.

“We’ve positioned the range to be the most appealing volume-maximising range,” he said.

“In terms of hot hatch, we have 86 (at $29,990 plus ORCs), which is only marginally more than the Corolla ZR.

“It doesn’t mean in the future there may not be one, but we’ve got the 86, and you’ve also got to look at the engineering resources – you can only do so much.”

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