Allow me to introduce the 11th generation of the Toyota Corolla. In 1975, South Africans were introduced to the third generation Corolla, and since then nearly 1 million have found homes in our country, as well as over 40 million across the globe. This is a truly iconic car.
And it's quite easy to see why. This car wants nothing else but to be a car. That’s all. Not the fastest or prettiest or largest or smallest. Just a useful, practical, affordable machine that will help every kind of person, from grad students to grandmothers, get on with their daily lives.
2014 Toyota Corolla Video Review
But these are the hardest cars to design and build. It has to have comfortable seating for five, a frugal engine, a large boot, not-too-shabby looks and of course it all has to cost less to produce than a firepool.
The InteriorAfter a few days with the car, I actually started to think of it as more of a Lexus than a Toyota. Which is like spending some time with the girl next door, only to realise she is actually Anna Kournikova. There is leather everywhere and fine white stitching on the higher spec models, but lower specs get a cloth/leather combo. The dash is the best I’ve seen in a Toyota and most models come with a 6.1 inch colour touch display, which is easy to use and creates a perfectly modern feel.
The position of the screen is a little low, especially when the reverse camera comes on. The camera is not the best I’ve seen, but it is useful. Steering wheel controls are large and clearly marked, and a centre LCD screen in the dials displays all sorts of information, fuel range being the most useful, I found.
The EnginesAt launch, four engines are available for the 2014 Toyota Corolla. For some reason which I didn’t have a chance to ask on the launch, Toyota has shied away from small turbocharged petrol motors. There are instead three naturally aspirated options to choose from. There's a 1.3, 1.6 and a 1.8 with one diesel is available, the 1.4 D-4D.
I didn’t sample the 1.3, and I wasn’t impressed by the 1.6. It’s a little thrashy and the fuel consumption didn’t impress, but that could have been affected by the journalists who drove before me. The 1.8 is a peach and delivers smooth, lively power. It’s obviously the most expensive, but I would argue the best and potentially longest living of the bunch.
But the real star is the diesel. Although Toyota was late to the oil burning party, its second crack at a small diesel is impressive. It’s quiet this motor, and while turbo lag is noticeable, it’s worth living with for the fuel consumption.
My test unit, over 5 days of mixed driving, returned 5.8 litres/100km. Remarkable, and I would argue vital in this age of excruciating prices at the pumps.
The DriveWell, it’s not going to worry any German sedans, but the ride is impressive in other ways. New sound deadening materials reduce road noise, which make long distances less tiresome. While not sporty, the Corolla can handle the twisties without making your forehead sweat.
However, it has been set up for comfort, and comfortable it is. I cruised a 400km return trip up the West Coast, fully loaded with 4 passengers and luggage, and we were all comfortable and air-conned. Nothing wrong with that at all. It feels like you could cover large distances, urban or highway, and not feel too bothered at all.
The SafetyThe 11th gen Corolla achieved 5 stars in the new, more stringent EuroNCAP testing. The interior is fitted with numerous airbags and the front seats are fitted with ELR (Emergency Locking Retractor) seatbelts, which lock under certain g-forces.
Active systems include ABS, VSC (Vehicle Stability Control), BA (Brake Assist) and EBD. The ABS system is all new.
The RivalsWhen Germans started making cars, it was unthinkable that a Japanese company might one day lead sales around the world. When the Corolla first debuted, it must have been unthinkable that a Korean company might one day shake the boots of VW, GM, Ford and of course, Toyota.
But that’s the reality and Toyota knows it. This Corolla had to be good, with high levels of spec to compete. And the good news is, that in most aspects, Toyota has delivered.
Vying for your hard earned Rands are cars like the Hyundai Elantra, the Kia Cerato, VW’s Jetta, the Opel Astra Sedan, Honda Civic and the Chevrolet Cruze, amongst possibly others. All very decent cars in their own rights. If you are in this market, it would be genuinely difficult to tell you what to choose.
I think it is down to personal taste, perhaps brand loyalty, but increasingly in this modern age of smartphones, infotainment. When browsing the options list, have a good look at what comes standard and what is extra on the various cars, as you could end up forking out a small fortune for the features you want.
That said, most variants in the 2014 Toyota Corolla range represent a solid package.
2014 Toyota Corolla Price in South Africa
|1.3 Esteem||214 900||
|1.3 Prestige||232 900|
|1.4 D Esteem||237 900||
|1.4 D Prestige||249 900|
|1.6 Esteem||225 900||
|1.6 Prestige||241 900|
|1.6 Prestige MD||252 900|
|1.6 Sprinter||248 900|
|1.8 Prestige||251 900||
|1.8 Exclusive||272 900|
|1.8 Exclusive MD||283 900|
The new Corolla benefits from a three-year/100,000km warranty and comes with a standard five-year/ 90 000 km service plan. Service intervals are set at 15 000 km (including the 1.4 D). The new models are also supported by the ToyotaCare Roadside Assistance Programme which entitles customers to 24-hour roadside assistance, ensuring ultimate peace-of-mind motoring.