The new Toyota Corolla Hatch has arrived, launched this week in Cape Town the new kid on the block is aimed at the C-segment of the market and replaces the Auris. It is a segment that is not as big as a few years back, as many buyers have migrated to the compact SUV for family transport.

One cannot deny that the exterior design of the Corolla Hatch is striking and will appeal to many, take a look at the images and it becomes obvious that this is not your average Corolla, from bold body styling and LED lighting the Hatch will stand out in a crowd.

The interior is spacious and airy, seating is fabric covered in the two Xs models with leather and Alcantara upholstery in the Xr. The dashboard and fascia is ergonomically efficient and follows the new Toyota design discipline, flowing lines and well finished.

The seating is very supportive being bolstered on both sides up to shoulder level and the adjustment between seat and steering wheel provides an excellent  driving position with good visibility.

Surprisingly there are few storage spaces in the cabin, particularly up front where a small platform ahead of the gearshift on the centre console is all there is, and as this also houses the USB port there is little space to rest your phone.

The load area is supplemented by a 60:40 split rear seat but with the seats in position the Hatch offers just 296 litres, not exactly capacious.

The new Corolla has a surprisingly high specification level across the range. Standard equipment boasts LED lights, reversing camera, keyless entry, cruise control, auto lights with follow me home feature, electrically adjustable heated side mirrors, electric parking brake, height and reach adjustable leather covered multifunction steering wheel, a centrally mounted touch screen and dual zone climate control, and this is on the base model Xs. Move up to the range topping Xr and you get all that plus heated front seats upholstered in Alcantara and leather plus a side mirror blind spot monitoring system.

All models sit on 16 inch alloy wheels and have a fifth full size alloy as a spare.

Safety is well catered for with seven airbags, ABS, EBD and brake assist, HAC (Hill Assist Control) VSC (Vehicle Stability Control) are all standard.

Built on the TNGA platform (Toyota New Global Architecture), the one used by both the Prius and the C-HR, the new hatch has a 40mm longer wheelbase than the Auris it supersedes and this certainly adds to a much sportier appearance, as well as aiding rear passenger legroom. The fact that the roofline is around 25mm lower gives the Corolla Hatch a more aggressive stance.

As well as the shared platform the new offering utilises the same power unit as the C-HR. The four cylinder 1.2 litre turbocharged engine produces 85kW between 5,200 and 5,600 r/min and 185 Nm of torque between 1,500 and 4,000 r/min.

Transmission of power to the road is through the front wheels via either a six speed manual gearbox, (standard fitment on the Xs base model) or through the10 step CVT gearbox (as fitted standard to the Xs high spec model and the Xr).

At launch I drove both manual and the CVT transmission and my preference must go to the latter. I am not a particular fan of CVT gearboxes but the Toyota unit is one of the better units, providing good acceleration from a standing start and excellent response when demanding mid range push, without sounding like a slipping clutch.

The turbocharged engine is definitely more than you would expect from a small capacity unit, tractable and punchy. Toyota claim a 0 to 100km/h time of 9.5 seconds for the manual and 10.4 seconds for the CVT. Fuel consumption is claimed at 6.1 l/100km.

Ride quality is good even on potholed back roads. Initially it appears that the rear suspension is a little too soft but it does provide a comfortable ride, push on a bit and you will find that the back end has firmed up and allows you to enjoy some spirited bend swinging.

All up the Toyota Corolla Hatch is a well priced and equipped offering from one of the world’s leading manufacturers and is sure to find favour on the local market, as pre launch sales have already demonstrated. Now all the aficionados will be waiting for the GRMN derivative which could be appearing in the future line up.

Pricing

Corolla Hatch 1.2T Xs 6MT            R336 800

Corolla Hatch 1.2T Xs CVT            R347 400

Corolla Hatch 1.2T Xr CVT             R367 100

Pricing includes a 3 year/100 000km warranty and 6 services/90 000km service plan

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