The eleventh generation of the Toyota Corolla has gone on sale in Australia today, with a lower pricetag, more equipment and a heavily-revised mechanical package.
The entry-level Corolla Ascent hatch (the sedan will arrive late next year) gets $1000 lopped off its retail price, bringing the price of entry to Corolla ownership to just $19,990.
It's a similar story with the Ascent Sport and Levin ZR, which now retail for $20,990 and $23,990 respectively. The high-grade Levin SR's pricetag remains unchanged at $28,490.
But pricetags aren't all that have changed for the better. Toyota has worked on the Corolla's mechanical refinement and equipment lists to help boost the appeal of its small hatch, which faces stiff competition from 38 different models from 27 manufacturers.
With Toyota aiming to stimulate the appetites of private buyers for the Corolla, the addition of more creature comforts in concert with lower pricing should resonate with many prospective new car buyers.
Many of these, of course, will be also considering the Mazda3 (which currently dominates the small car category in private sales), or the sharp new Hyundai i30.
Under the Corolla's sharpened sheetmetal lies a 1.8 litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder, which puts out 3kW more power but 2Nm less torque than the outgoing model's 1.8 four. That makes for peak outputs of 103kW and 173Nm.
However, while peak torque is down, it's achieved 400rpm earlier than the old engine, giving the 2013 Corolla's engine a slight edge in driveability.
The biggest news though, is the replacement of the antiquated four-speed automatic with a more efficient CVT.
With this transmission - and thanks to a host of other aerodynamic and mechanical refinements - the CVT-equipped 2013 Corolla is claimed to consume just 6.6 l/100km on the combined cycle.
That's 0.8 l/100km less than the outgoing Corolla automatic. The standard six-speed manual improves on its fuel efficiency figure too, with consumption dropping 0.2 l/100km to 7.1 l/100km.
Levin SX and Levin ZR model grades equipped with the CVT also score steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, which allow the driver to manually shift between seven pre-set ratios.
The 2013 Corolla's platform retains the familiar MacPherson Strut front and torsion-beam axle rear suspension used by the outgoing Corolla, but features improved spring and damper settings to improve ride comfort.
The electric power-steering calibration has also been tuned to provide a more direct, responsive steering feel. The steering rack ratio is now a much quicker 14.8:1, rather than the 16.0:1 ratio of the old car.
One less visible improvement is the new Corolla's slight reduction in weight. In total, it weighs 55kg less than the previous Corolla hatch, yet is also 10 percent more rigid.
Aerodynamic undertrays and a 55mm lower roof height contribute to a slippery coefficient of drag of 0.29.
Starting with the base Corolla Ascent, you get cruise control, trip computer, Bluetooth telephony, audio controls on the steering wheel and 16-inch steel wheels.
Moving up to the Corolla Ascent Sport, standard fit are 16-inch alloys, front foglamps, a reversing camera, a touchscreen display in the audio headunit, chrome exterior accents and privacy glass.
The Corolla Levin SX adds 17-inch alloys, satellite navigation with a touchscreen display, a high-grade instrument panel with dot matrix trip computer display, carbon-look interior trim and more heavily bolstered front seats.
At the top of the range is the Levin ZR, which gets all of the above features, plus bi-xenon headlamps, LED daytime running lamps, auto-folding and heated wing mirrors, dual-zone climate control, leather-upholstered seats, an auto-dimming rear view mirror, keyless entry and ignition, one-touch power windows and chrome exterior trim.
The Levin ZR is also available with a full-length panoramic sunroof, which adds $1500 to the purchase price. All models can be optioned with the S-CVT gearbox for an extra $2000.
Safety equipment for all models comprises seven airbags (front, front-side, full-length curtain and driver's knee), anti-whiplash front headrests, stabiltiy control, traction control, ABS, EBD and brake assist.
CVT-equipped cars gain a hill start assist feature, however this is not available with the manual transmission. A reversing camera is available on the base Ascent as an option, and standard on every other model.
Also standard is the new emergency brake signal feature, which flashes the hazard lights under hard braking to warn drivers behind you.
The 2013 Toyota Corolla range is on sale now, with pricing as follows:
- Toyota Corolla Ascent - $19,990
- Toyota Corolla Ascent Sport - $20,990
- Toyota Corolla Levin SX - $23,990
- Toyota Corolla Levin ZR -28,490
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