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In-depth reviews

Toyota Corolla review - Engines, performance and drive

The Toyota Corolla has an impressive chassis, but hybrid powertrain isn’t the most exciting

The Corolla is best enjoyed with either of its ‘self-charging’ conventional hybrid powertrains. At low speed, silent EV mode makes for relaxing progress – refinement is such that when the petrol engine does kick in, it’s fairly unobtrusive when trundling around town. If you spent the majority of your time on congested streets, any Corolla Hybrid will prove very easy to live with. 

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Out on faster A-roads and motorways, the relaxation theme continues; you remain insulated from the worst of the noise of either the 1.8 or 2.0-litre hybrid engines, provided you don’t mash the throttle. Due to the nature of the CVT gearbox, big throttle inputs cause a flare of revs that may come as a surprise if you’re used to conventional automatics. However, of all the CVT gearboxes we’ve sampled, the Corolla’s is the best.

Best hybrid cars on the market

Both hybrid units are remarkably punchy despite their eco-friendly credentials. We tested the hatchback in 1.8 (120bhp) Hybrid guise and clocked its 0-60mph sprint at a decent 11.4 seconds, but this is still over two seconds slower than a non-hybrid Volkswagen Golf 1.5 TSI. We tested the Corolla Touring Sports separately, fitted with a 181bhp 2.0-litre Hybrid; performance is actually pretty impressive, with a claimed 8.1-second 0-62mph time.

The Corolla’s chassis is far more impressive than that of Toyota’s last family offering, the Auris. There’s a great balance between ride comfort and body control – it's good enough to be considered alongside the class-leading Volkswagen Golf.

Engines, 0-60 acceleration and top speed

There are two petrol-hybrid engines available for the Toyota Corolla: a 1.8-litre with 120bhp and a 2.0-litre unit delivering 181bhp. Both engines are available with all hatchback trim levels, while saloons are only offered with the 1.8-litre hybrid and a reduced trim line-up. The estate model comes with a choice of both power units across its trim range.

Most will be best served by the 120bhp 1.8-litre hybrid, however; 0-62mph takes 10.9, 11 and 11.1 seconds in the hatch, Saloon and Touring Sports respectively. The best performance is provided by the surprisingly punchy 2.0-litre hybrid, which boasts 181bhp. Choose this powertrain in the hatchback and you’ll manage 0-62mph in 7.9 seconds, with the heavier Touring Sports a couple of tenths behind with a 8.1-second time

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Which Is Best

Cheapest

  • Name
    1.8 VVT-i Hybrid Icon 5dr CVT
  • Gearbox type
    Auto
  • Price
    £23,259

Most Economical

  • Name
    1.8 VVT-i Hybrid Icon 5dr CVT
  • Gearbox type
    Auto
  • Price
    £23,259

Fastest

  • Name
    2.0 VVT-i Hybrid Icon 5dr CVT
  • Gearbox type
    Auto
  • Price
    £24,984
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