Last week ended with a revelation. That the highest selling car in the world should be selling for a reason. And that needn’t anymore be just money, or fewer headaches or even resale value. In its new iteration, the Toyota Corolla will actually be bought for its drive (yes, you heard it right!) – for a good part. Considerably improved steering feel and handling as well as a dynamic design render the 2014 Toyota Corolla all-new, while the impressively upgraded cabin still lacks Bluetooth or navigation even as options.

The world's most popular car was launched in its 11th gen version at Meydan Tennis Academy, Dubai last weekend.

PRICING AND AVAILABILITY: TOYOTA COROLLA 2014

1.6 L: S model at AED 59,500, SE at AED 63,500 and SE+ at AED 68,500.
2.0L: SE at AED 66,900, SE+ at AED 69,900, Limited at AED 73,900.
Now available at Al-Futtaim Motors Toyota

Toyota Corolla is available with the new 2.0 L engine and the current 1.6 L, both 4-cylinders in-line, DOHC with dual VVTi, and mated to an intelligent 4-speed transmission.

The 11th generation Toyota Corolla

Resale-worthy. Reliable. With 10 previous generations vouching for it, that should be what the two Rs in the Corrolla stand for. But again, it could also stand for BoRRing! It’s not a few motoring freaks who are saying this. It’s the high priests of the brand itself that recognised this fact, just in time to save the skin, and the steering, of the 11th generation Corolla from being another boring lump of sheet metal or the dreary pick of insufferable practicality.

Interestingly, there is only a negligible AED 1400 difference between the two engine variants in the SE+ category.

“With 40 million Corollas sold globally since its launch and the fact that 26 million of these cars are still in use around the world, is a great example of the car’s famed quality, durability and reliability,” said Jon Williams, Managing Director, Al-Futtaim Motors during the press launch event. Corolla accounts for 15% of sales both for Toyota globally and for Al-Futtaim Motors in the UAE.

The first generation Corolla on display during the launch. Since 1966, 40 million Corollas have been sold. That is one every 40 seconds!

The design departure

When I first saw it at the Dubai International Motor Show last month, its departure from the tame design lines of current generation Corolla was catchy enough. Some have found it too close to the new Honda Civic; most find it refreshing; but either way, the design is a great start to an “all-new” story.

1.6L engine: 121 hp @ 6000 rpm / 143 hp @ 6200 rpm; 187 Nm @ 5200 rpm; @ 3600 rpm / Suspensions: MacPherson Strut in front and Torsion beam in the rear / Wheel sizes: 15” and 16

What the Corolla 2.0L drive revealed

Pick up from start was steady, sprightly yet unhurried. What brings out the usefulness of the extra horsepower and the continuing four-speed gearbox is a quick lane changing manoeuver or an impulsive overtaking. The Corolla responds like a powerful midsize sedan yet holding its ground without any flashy aerodynamics burdening its design.

While a smooth steering that is too smooth for enthusiasts and a detached drive marked the departing model, the new Corolla turns its focus on enhanced handling for a change. Even as the weight remains more or less the same, improved body rigidity and a 5mm lower profile that lowers the centre of gravity shot my media test car through sharp roundabouts, defiant corners and continuous traffic rather impressively. The Toyota Corolla also promises good fuel efficiency and environment-friendly driving with an Eco Mode.

Cruise control and sunroof are available in the Limited version but the new Corolla continues to lack Bluetooth, parking camera, sensors or navigation, which a couple of rivals smugly offer.

The grille and steering – dynamics of evolution

The new grille is a dramatic and evolutionary element that Toyota has introduced in their latest generation of vehicles, in that it reinvents itself with each model introduction. Toyota has managed to make the nuances distinctive and different to suit each model, and the Corolla is no exception. Meeting with the headlamps in a confident smile, the grille along with the soft finish of the edges gives the Corolla a genial face and an impressive appearance. The cleanly sculpted surfaces; flared wheel arches and the newly introduced DRL (Daytime Running Lights) help the Corolla in joining the visibly modern force of compact and midsize sedans.

The cabin design too has a subdued and straightforward elegance about it. The horizontal dash as well as soft touch materials and metal-like accents create a sense of premium elegance with their straight and subdued lines instead of the complicated curves that ‘distinguish’ many cabins.

What remains unchanged is the legendary cooling power of the Toyota Corolla’s air-conditioning, which by itself can justify the car’s huge popularity here.

Comfort and utility

With a 10 cm longer wheelbase, the Toyota Corolla has grown in cabin volume, though the space inside isn’t segment-breaking like the new Yaris sedan. But then, those already happy with the Corolla’s dimensions will be even more pleased.

The audio system quality lives up to reasonable expectations inside a compact sedan, with its 4 and 6 speaker configurations. A USB/AUX connection has also been adopted to reflect the needs of customers. A Smart Entry & Push Start System are available in the SE+ and Limited versions, with an engine immobilizer preventing the engine from starting without an authorised key, while the 2.0L Limited model also features a sunroof and cruise control system.

The new Corolla has won five-star safety ratings from leading evaluators such as Euro Ncap, Latin Ncap and ANcap.

Extensive safety features

The Brake Control System comes with ABS (Anti-lock Brake System) and EBD (Electronic Brake force Distribution) to ensure greater stability during braking. A Brake Assist feature is available to compensate for a driver’s failure to depress the brake pedal deep enough during an emergency.

The use of lightweight, high-strength steel achieves an improved collision performance. The collision safety features of the new Corolla include significantly improved pedestrian protection by using numerous energy absorbing components while force limiters have been introduced to reduce the pressure on the occupant’s chest when wearing the seatbelt. Moreover, the car comes equipped with SRS airbags for the driver and front passenger.

Looks like this is the end of the 'boringly practical' tag for Corolla buyers. "After all, it's a Corolla" has lost some of its decibel power!

All said and driven…

The 2014 Toyota Corolla has moved on. The voice of the 11th generation model of the world’s highest selling car has grown from an admitting whisper to assertive bragging. At least, more bragging rights than you could expect from any Corolla in history! “The all-new 2014 Corolla is not an evolution, it’s a revolution” said Jon Williams as he addressed the media. For once, I could put up with that cliché wholeheartedly. It was still as boring as a cliché can be, but not the new Corolla.

Six exterior colours: Super White, Silver Metallic, Gray Metallic, Black Mica, Blue Metallic and Dark Blue Mica. Interior shades are in Gray and Ivory.

Drive Courtesy: Al Futtaim Motors Media launch
Location: Meydan and Academic City areas, Dubai

Toyota Corolla 2014 First Drive: Handling expectations was last modified: December 27th, 2016 by Sudeep Koshy

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