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2014 Toyota Corolla sedan road test: Bloomin’ marvellous

The new Toyota Corolla sedan.
The new Toyota Corolla sedan.

CHANCES are you have owned a Toyota Corolla. If not yourself, then someone in your family has.

Since it went on sale, there have been 1.25 million Corollas sold. That equates to one for every four Australians.

The nameplate has become folklore. It actually stands for "crown of flowers" and it has been a bloomin' brilliant car for Toyota.

Now the 11th generation range is complete with the sedan's arrival.

The hatch has been here since late 2012, and it propelled Corolla to be the number one selling car in Australia last year - the first time Toyota has secured that title.

Yet this isn't just a hatch with a boot attached to the back. The sedan is bigger, and geared toward comfort.

Most sales will still be owned by the hatch, and the majority of sedan buyers will be family-focused and aged above 50. But Toyota hopes that by offering a distinctly different car it will offer a new appeal, which will help fend off the all-new Mazda3 which is gunning to regain the number one sales position.

Comfort

The Corolla has a pronounced dash, sitting square with a vertical face which features the touch-screen and climate control operations.

Improved front seats cosset the body and greater under thigh support, extra bolstering at the lumbar and sides make for a pleasant ride.

Sitting on a longer wheelbase has enabled Toyota to push the wheels further to the corners that creates 100mm of extra interior space. Much of that space is provided to rear seat passengers which, combined with thinner front seat backs, results in outstanding leg and knee room.

It's not far off a medium size car in terms of cabin accommodation.

Typically Toyota with a simple layout everything is logically positioned and there is even an improved blue backlighting of the instruments.

On the road

Billed as more comfortable and luxurious than the hatch, the sedan is no shrinking violet.

Toyota makes clear this isn't a sports car, although it is surprisingly adept.

Powered by a 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine, the Corolla offers impressive dexterity. Transmission choices are a continuously variable automatic or a six-speed manual.

We only drove the self shifter, which will secure the majority of sales, and it's a slick little unit. Performing admirably it offers timely smooth shifts and only when worked extremely hard under acceleration does it become flustered offering more noise than action.

But the four-potter is up to wide-ranging tasks. It can overtake with confidence on a rural road, cruise at 100kmh below 2000rpm or potter around town.

The steering has good accurate feedback through the wheel and we had to push hard for any loss of traction.

What do you get?

There is a three-trim range.

Base model Ascent sedans come with cruise control, a reversing camera and rear sensors, multi-information display in the speedometer, halogen headlamps and it all sits on 15-inch steel wheels with hubcaps.

Every Corolla is fitted with a 15.5cm LCD touch-screen display with Bluetooth connectivity, CD stereo with USB and iPod inputs as well as an auxiliary jack. Step up to the SX and it gains 16-inch alloy wheels (including the spare), front fog lamps, Optitron instruments, keyless smart entry and start, front sonars and interior chrome detailing.

ZR sedan is $1000 less than the previous Ultima and features automatic air-conditioning, rain-sensing wipers, auto-levelling LED headlamps, LED daytime running lamps, satellite navigation, leather-accented seats with eight-way power operation for the driver's seat, paddle shifters and acoustic windscreen.

Practicality

Twin bottle holders sit in the centre console as well as the fold-down arm rest in the back, and there are also drink slots in each door.

Up front and there is a good spot for phones and audio players in front of the shifter close to the USB, auxiliary and 12 volt ports.

The Corolla is much larger than your usual small car and three adults can fit across the back seat.

Boot space has improved to 470 litres (up 20 litres), and load space has the flexibility of 60-40 split fold rear seats.

Running costs

Hanging onto your ride for the long haul? They don't come much better than the Toyota Corolla. With a historic reputation for quality and longevity, they have excellent resale.

Insurance should be at the lower end of the scale, while average fuel consumption if the mid-seven litres per 100km range is achievable.

Servicing is also capped for the first six trips back to the dealership.

Funky factor

Hearts won't race, yet the Corolla is not a bad looking thing. Particularly noticeable is the new front end with curved bonnet edges and lights which wrap around the front edges.

There has been greater attention to detail with reduced panel gaps between the doors.

What matters most

What we liked: Surprisingly fun to drive, good automatic transmission, reputation for longevity.

What we'd like to see: Dual zone air con, one touch indicators, longer intervals between services.

Warranty and servicing: Backed by a three year 100,000km warranty. Servicing is capped at $130 for the first six services, with intervals every six months or 10,000km.

VITAL STATISTICS

Model: Toyota Corolla Sedan.

Details: Four-door compact front-wheel drive sedan.

Engine: 1.8-litre in-line 16-valve four-cylinder generating maximum power of 103kW @ 6400rpm and peak torque of 173Nm @ 4000rpm.

Transmissions: Six-speed manual or continuously variable automatic.

Consumption: 7.0 litres/100km (manual); 6.6L/100km (a).

CO2: 162g/km (manual); 153g/km (a).

Bottom line plus on-roads: Ascent $20,740, SX $22,990, ZR $30,990 (auto only). Automatic transmission $2250. Premium paint $450.

Topics:  motoring review road test toyota corolla