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Driven: New Toyota Corolla Altis
Driven May 2014
Later this month, the new, 11th-gen Corolla will hit Toyota showrooms with a vengeance, trying to recover ground that it's lost to the Hyundai Elantra and Skoda Octavia. Shown at the Delhi Auto Expo earlier this year, the car has undergone a major design change in its new avatar, apart from getting a host of new features.
This is an all-new car. It is longer and wider, and carries a bigger footprint than the outgoing model. The front gets the familiar Etios-like Toyota family grille which complements two well-sculpted headlights. The rear is also given a horizontal look with wide tail lamps. From the front, the car gets a nice squat look thanks to the new bumper. In profile though, you can notice the reasonable ground clearance. With the new Altis, Toyota is offering optional 16-inch alloy wheels on the top-end variants.
Predominantly a chauffeur-driven car, Toyota has focused on using the added size to free up more space at the rear. There's a lot of legroom for the passengers at the back. And if that is not enough, the new Corolla's rear seat backrest can also be reclined. There is also a retractable rear sunscreen, which has to be operated manually.
At the front, the dashboard is a mish-mash of lots of design elements and various forms of plastic. The instrument cluster is a neat twin-pod design. The steering is big and chunky, and comes with XL-sized controls for music, Bluetooth telephony and even cruise control. The centre console is dominated by a large LCD multimedia display with controls for music, telephone and aux input. It's a simple interface, with special emphasis on functionality rather than edgy, more appealing graphics.
There are two engines on offer – a 1.4-litre diesel and a 1.8-litre petrol – both carried over from the previous model. The diesel is only available with a six-speed manual 'box. The D-4D engine is designed for fuel economy, and Toyota has left it untouched. Power appears around 2,000rpm, after which the engine is happy to keep pottering around, be it on the highway or in the city.
The petrol is the more interesting option, as it lets you choose between the six-speed manual or a CVT with seven pre-defined ratios, a gearbox that was designed for Lexus. It's amazingly efficient, and comes with a manual mode, which manages to instill some enthusiasm in the Corolla. For the first time, Toyota is also offering paddle-shifts on the Corolla. The steering is well weighted, but doesn't do much in passing information on what the front wheels are upto. The ride is pliant, and just adds to the cocooning effect that only a Corolla can offer.
There are five petrol and three diesel trims which should cover the segment well. The only trouble is that the segment hasn't seen much growth in the last one year, thanks to attractive propositions in both the lower and upper segments. Toyota expects the Corolla to become a segment-leader again. It's a more modern-looking car now, and has decent levels of equipment to keep the buyer interested. With the fantastic automatic option, the Corolla should be an even more attractive prospect for personal car buyers looking for a comfortable saloon. The Corolla has never looked more enticing a proposition.
Petrol: 4cyl, 1,798cc, 138bhp, 173Nm, 6M/CVT, fuel tank: 55 litres, 1,180 - 1,270kg, boot capacity: 470 litres
Diesel: 4cyl, 1,364cc, 87bhp, 205Nm, 6M, fuel tank: 50 litres, 1,230 - 1,270kg, boot capacity: 470 litres
Rs 12-17 lakh (ex-Delhi)
The new Corolla addresses the problem of dour styling, and tops it with a more spacious cabin. Is now one of the most comfortable executive sedans out there.
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