When the 2020 Toyota Corolla was revealed, I honestly wanted to hate it. The hatchback has a more sporty, sophisticated design. However, the sedan’s sensible styling is perfect for a rental car and a box of tissues on the parcel shelf. This is the first Corolla Sedan that feels like a hatchback since the 9th-generation model of 2000, and it’s better for it.
The hatch’s sharp styling and well-presented cabin are carried over. The new model is based on Toyota’s excellent TNGA platforms and comes with all the latest active safety technologies. It also offers a hybrid engine for the first time in Australia.
Was it too early to judge this humble three-box sedan? It does compensate for the Corolla’s small boot, and the sedan is also more slippery, so it consumes less fuel. The Corolla could be the car to choose from. Find out.
Price and Specs: 7.10
The 2018 Corolla Hatch was a game-changer for the Australian market. It did away with the fleet-friendly Ascent model and offered more active safety features, a complete base model, and more than any previous Corolla. The 2020 Toyota Corolla follows the same formula. Starting with the Ascent Sports petrol manual at $23,335 before roads, the Ascent Sport goes up to the ZR at $33,635 before roads. The Ascent Sport, SX, and ZR are all available with hybrids for 1,500 over the petrol equivalents. However, unlike the hatchback, the ZR only comes in petrol.
All Corolla sedans have Toyota’s active safety suite, including automatic emergency braking (AEB), pedestrian detection, and cyclist detection. Other features include dynamic cruise control with road signs, lane-keeping assistance, lane trace support, and automatic headlights with no “off” mode. Brilliant with auto high beam. The range also includes LED brake lights and headlights, a reversing cam connected to an 8-inch touchscreen with satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, digital radio, and a six-speaker sound system.
The SX hybrid was our test vehicle. It has a partially digital 7.0-inch driver’s display instead of the analog gauges on the petrol SX. It also has a blind-spot monitor, proximity key, push-button start, single-zone climate control, wireless phone charger, and a premium (artificial leather) steering wheel and shift knob.
SX Hybrid Hatchback is a strange choice, but it offers features like front fog lights and front and rear parking sensors. It also has LED rear indicators, reverse lights, and dual-zone climate controls.
The car we bought was finished in “Celestite Grey” for $515 extra, which added up to 35,045 drive-away. It’s quite a bit when it lacks essential equipment, such as a front or rear parking sensor. A Mazda 3 Evolve sedan costs $34,912, has a more luxurious interior, and includes dual-zone climate control, front and back parking sensors, and front and rear cross-traffic alert. The Corolla sedan offers all active safety equipment across the range. However, Honda will require you to upgrade to the Civic RS for $36,952 to get its ‘Honda Sensing functional safety equipment.
Performance and Economy: 7.0/10
The 2020 Toyota Corolla features Toyota’s well-known hybrid drivetrain, which consists of A 1.8-liter 4-cylinder petrol engine that runs on the Atkinson cycle and Two electric motors. The combined output of the hybrid system is 90kW. This power is then sent to the front wheels through an E-CVT transmission. The wheels can be powered by electric motors or internal combustion engines, depending on the situation. The battery of a conventional hybrid is charged solely by the machine and not at home. The petrol engine can be off for a long time at lower speeds and relies on the electric motors, which deliver their torque 100% from a standstill. When the petrol engine needs to be used for more power, it will usually run between 1,000 and 2,000 rpm, depending on how lead-footed you are.
On the open road, it’s another story. The hybrid’s pace is not affected by heavy acceleration or overtaking maneuvers. The combination is much more lively and easy to drive in the city, but it becomes breathless and noisy once you reach speeds above 90km/h. The 12.4 seconds is a good time for the 0-100km/h sprint. The Corolla 2.0 liter petrol, on the other hand, reaches 100 in 9.3 seconds. The 2.0-liter hybrid Corolla available overseas is an excellent compromise between economy and performance. It has 137kW of power and can sprint to 100 in 7.9 seconds.
The 1.8 hybrid compensates for its lackluster performance with incredible economy. The hybrid sedan is claimed to use 3.5L/100km when driving in mixed conditions. This is better than the hatchback, which uses 4.2L/100km. Realistically, achieving that figure is a real challenge. This obsession with the economy turned this rev-head into an eco-warrior. He would feather the throttle to keep the car running as long as possible in EV mode and switch to B mode to maximize regeneration on hills. We tried our best, but the lowest we got was 4.7L/100km. This is still a good figure, but it’s 34% more than the stated consumption.
A Mazda 3 Evolve offers a more exciting driving experience thanks to its 2.5-liter engine paired with a torque-converter auto. Meanwhile, a Honda Civic from the VTiL spec onwards provides low-down power courtesy of its 1.5-liter turbocharged motor. Both cars are better than the Corolla Hybrid, but neither can compete with its economy.
Ride & Handling: 9.0/10
Toyota Corolla 2020 is an excellent choice for company cars. The humble Corolla has been able to reap the rewards of Toyota’s renewed emphasis on fun-to-drive vehicles. The TNGA platform is critical in reducing body weight, increasing rigidity, and keeping the center of gravity low.
The humble hybrid rides with supreme comfort thanks to an excellent chassis setup with well-judged damping and a sophisticated multilink suspension setup at the rear rather than the standard-for-the-class torsion beam. The 15-inch eco tires and slim alloys help to keep road noise at bay.
The Corolla handles better than you might expect when you shuffle it through a few corners. You feel confident when you turn in because the steering feels so natural. The steering is neutral, and it only begins to understeer at speeds that were not intended.
Mazda 3’s torsion-beam rear suspension is more essential than the Mazda 3’s. This has resulted in a reduction in driving enjoyment. The Corolla is a shocker. The Mazda could be a severe competitor in the zoom zoom department. The chassis is excellent, and it shows how much we need a sportier hybrid… or a GR Corolla.
Interior and Practicality: 7.5/10
Toyota has a newfound focus on technology and design, which makes the interior of the 2020 Toyota Corolla quite attractive. The interior design of the sedan is based on that of the hatchback, so you’ll get a dashboard with a tablet screen mounted at its top. The dash mixes material quality with a softly padded steering wheel, gear knob, and a ‘premium wrapped’ steering wheel. Switchgear and the switchgear itself are also tactile. The plastics are hard on the doors, even the front ones. It’s a pity because some obvious cost cuts let down the interior of this well-designed and sturdy car. It’s even more frustrating that the ZR hatchback has soft-touch front doors, which adds to the atmosphere.
Exclusive to hybrid SX (petrol) and ZR, the technology is handled with digital dials. This high-resolution, comprehensive 7.0-inch display lets you quickly check your digital speedometer, battery status, and economy. It makes up for ZR’s lack of color head-up displays. The 8-inch touchscreen infotainment looks more sleek and is not the brightest or highest-resolution unit. The software could be more precise, with basic menus and dull menus. Android Car and Apple CarPlay will allow tech-savvy users to remain connected and access their favorite apps.
The storage is well taken care of, with a wireless charger in the front (although a separate phone tray would be nice for those who choose to connect via USB) and a good glovebox and large door bins. Two cup holders are in the center armrest, and two others are in the front. There is enough room for two adults in the rear seats, thanks to an extra 60mm between the front and rear axles over the hatch. However, the lack of vents at this price point makes it seem stingy. Why does the Corolla hatchback have a dual-zone climate, but the sedan only has a single-zone system?
The boot space is 470L, an improvement over the shoebox-like hatchback boot. However, there are no extras like shopping bag hangers or under-floor storage. The goose-neck hinges do not recess into designated spaces, so you must ensure your luggage is not crushed.
Mazda 3 interiors are more luxurious and have a higher level of finish, whereas Corollas rely on the ZR top-spec for softer materials. While the Mazda 3 sedan and Corolla are similar in size, the Honda Civic is the largest vehicle in rear space and boot capacity (525L).
Operating Costs and Warranty: 10/10
Toyota is the best choice. It will outlive humanity, be inexpensive to maintain, and give you no headaches as long as you own it. The 2020 Toyota Corolla comes with a 5-year warranty and unlimited kilometers. The hybrid battery is also covered for five more years. This gives you a total 10-year if you keep up your annual maintenance.