What is it like to drive?
Putting ‘sport’ in the car’s name is a bit of misdirection from Toyota, unless someone in the company is thinking of something a little more sedate, like bowls. The Corolla doesn’t drive badly per se, it’s all very neat and dependable and will make for an unfussy everyday car. But it won't tempt you to go the long way round.
The Corolla has been set up for comfort, which is entirely respectable, especially for something that’s pitched as a family effort. We did find that the ride got quite fussy on the 18in alloys of the higher spec cars, so we’d definitely go for smaller, better-riding wheels if it were us. It's built for comfort, so might as well lean into it.
Is the accelerator noisy?
This has been an issue with previous generations of Toyota’s hybrid cars (all the way back to the original Prius of the early 2000s) thanks to the CVT gearbox the car uses. Tickle the throttle and the engine revs high, with a distinct disconnect between how gently you're pushing and to what extent the engine is screaming away.
The issue isn’t entirely gone with this fifth iteration of Toyota's hybrid powertrain, but the firm has done a considerable amount to mitigate the loudness. The engine revs are less sticky and bounce back to normal noticeably quicker than before. You’ll still be discouraged from mashing the throttle – it’s just not worth the fuss in return for a less than enthusiastic acceleration, especially in the 1.8 version.
Is the 2.0 car much quicker than the 1.8?
The 2.0 is significantly the more powerful powertrain (193bhp versus 138bhp), which is thanks not just to the bigger petrol engine, but also down to another 17bhp from the e-motor (111bhp up from 94bhp). This means that the 1.8 car’s 0–62mph time of 9.4 seconds is knocked down to 7.7s. You won’t want to use it very often, but the 2.0 gives you a little bit more when you need it in everyday driving.