REVIEW: Toyota Corolla hatchback

Last week I was driving the best-selling car in the world, the Toyota Corolla. That’s short-term fame for me, but long-term fame and a great reputation for Toyota, who have been producing their famous Corolla since 1966.

We all remember what happened in 1966, England won the World Cup. Despite many attempts in recent years, football has never ‘come home’ since then, but 45 million Corollas have ‘found a home’ in the intervening 65 years.

I drove a red hatchback automatic version of the 12th generation Corolla with a black roof and stylish alloys which was really attractive.

I cannot say that I was asked in various supermarket car parks what type of car I was driving, as Irish people are by now  familiar with the Toyota brand.

At the end of 2018 Toyota promised a ‘hybrid invasion’ and they have kept their word. Despite all the speculation about the country going fully electric by 2030, I think most people are happy with Hybrid for now.

What happens in the world of motoring over the next nine years will depend on what the large car manufacturers can come up with regarding self-charging or longer-life batteries.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said recently that nobody will be forced to buy an electric car and that low-cost loans and scrappage schemes will be introduced to convince drivers to switch to electric.

For the immediate future, I think many motorists will avoid unnecessary ‘range anxiety’ and settle for a self-charging car like the Toyota hybrid which the company claim can drive in EV mode up to 62% of the time.

My wife, who is my regular passenger, liked the Corolla. The seats are comfortable and easy to adjust.

The dash is neat and while it would be neater if the infotainment screen folded down, but in reality that only happens in very few cars. I liked the fact that the radio and air condition controls are operated by an old-fashioned style button.

Leg room in the rear is tight enough. I never had three people in the back seat, but if I did it would not be uncomfortable for the middle passenger as the ‘tunnel’ is very low.

Children always hate sitting in the middle of the back seat as they have to put a leg on either side of the ‘tunnel’ running through cars.

The boot is a decent size with 360 litres of space, but sadly no spare wheel. There is a ‘well’ for a spare wheel and you could of course haggle for a spare if buying new. I think having a spare wheel always makes a long journey more relaxing.

Toyota claim to be the ‘best built cars in the world’ and it’s hard to disagree. They do seem to go forever. And of course hybrids are very economical, in the Corolla it’s 4.9 litres per 100km which is very impressive.

Prices start  €27, 605, while the 1.8-litre Luna sport version I drove will cost you €31,220. There used to be a problem with Apple Carplay, but that has now been rectified.

A few years back Toyota president Akio Toyoda issued a companywide decree for ‘no more boring cars,’ and it looks like his designers have certainly listened to his command.