The new Toyota Corolla Hybrid must seem like the answer to a closeted greenie’s diligent prayers, marrying Toyota’s proven hybrid technology with a conventional hatchback that is as distinct as a bathroom tap.
It is the fifth hybrid model in Toyota’s local green brigade, joining the Camry, Prius, Prius C and Prius V.
Available in a single variant priced from just $26,990 plus on-road costs, the Corolla Hybrid is significantly cheaper than the Toyota Prius with which it shares its power and drivetrain.
It also picks up many of the features found on the regular Corolla SX and ZR, including 16-inch alloys (from the SX), dual-zone climate control, auto-levelling bi-LED headlights with LED daytime running lights, keyless entry and start, satellite navigation with SUNA live traffic updates and a colour multi-information display.
Externally, apart from a few strategically placed hybrid badges and a blue tint applied to the T-badge, the Corolla Hybrid is ambiguous as the Prius is distinct. That’s by no means a criticism, as the latest-generation Corolla is hardly a bad looker.
Inside, Corolla owners will feel right at home with the largely carried over dashboard. The only difference in the cabin is the loss of the little lidded storage area ahead of the gear lever (the Hybrid gets an electronic gear lever) and hybrid-specific instrument cluster.
Its seats – upholstered in a dull grey – are comfortable and supportive, while the driving position is good. There’s enough room for four adults, or five if the rear seat passengers don’t mind getting a little intimate.
Crucially, thanks to clever packaging, the Corolla Hybrid retains the standard hatch’s 360 litres of boot space, as the hybrid battery is placed under the rear bench seat instead of the boot.
It is also merely 55kg heavier than the equivalent Corolla SX, while weighing 35kg lighter than the Prius.
Interestingly, the car’s 1.8-litre in-line 4-cylinder Atkinson Cycle hybrid engine also turns out slightly more power than the Prius – 100kW vs 90kW.
The extra power and lower weight contribute to surprisingly good dynamics and handling. The hybrid feels agile and corners with good confidence, no doubt thanks in part to the double-wishbone rear suspension exclusive to the Corolla Hybrid (regular models make do with torsion beam rear suspension). There is some minor body roll but not enough to bother the otherwise well-judged handling.
It is the only Corolla to come with three selectable drive modes (power, economy and electric) and larger (296mm x 28mm ventilated front discs) electronically controlled brakes.
However, don’t expect sports car-like throttle response, as it is dozy even in power mode. Unlike plug-in hybrids where EV mode operates up to 50km/h, the Corolla Hybrid only works up to 30km/h and if, and only if, you are feather light with your throttle. Typical of hybrids, brake pedal feel is lacking and inconsistent.
Nevertheless, those are unlikely to be of matter to the Corolla Hybrid’s target audience, as its main draw card is its impressive real world economy of 5.4 to 5.9L/100km.
It is also no more expensive to service compared to the regular Corolla, as the whole range is covered by Toyota Service Advantage capped-price servicing at a maximum of $140 per service for the first three years or 60,000km.
Design and Comfort: 7.0/10
Performance and Handling: 7.5/10
Equipment and Features: 8.0/10
There’s no doubt Toyota’s proven hybrid technology works. For those who prefer to fill up with petrol but still demand diesel-like fuel consumption, the Corolla Hybrid is just the car for the job.
It is comfortable and easy on the eye without announcing to the world you are a greenie – except if you specify the loud Citrus Lime paintwork as our test car.
The Corolla Hybrid is definitely the pick of the Corolla range.
- Looks like a normal hatch
- Great fuel economy and decent value
- Good balance between comfort and handling
- No auto headlights
- Voice control is shocking
2016 Toyota Corolla Hybrid pricing and specification
|Price (Excluding on-roads):||From $26,990|
As tested: $27,440*
*includes: Metallic paint: $450
|Warranty Customer Assistance:||Not available|
|Country of Origin:||Japan|
|Service Intervals:||6 months/10,000km|
|Engine:||1.8-litre in-line 4-cylinder Atkinson Cycle petrol:|
73kW @ 5,200rpm, 142Nm @ 4,000rpm
|Motor Generator||AC synchronous permanent magnet:|
60kW, 207Nm, 650 V
|Hybrid System||Series/parallel, full hybrid:|
Combined output: 100kW
High-voltage battery: Nickel-Metal Hydride (Ni-MH)
Nominal voltage (V): 201.6
Battery Capacity (Amp. Hr): 6.5
|Transmission:||Electronically controlled Continuously Variable Transmission (E-CVT)|
|Power to Weight Ratio (W/kg):||72.7|
|Combined Fuel Consumption (L/100km):||Claimed: 4.1 / Tested: 5.9|
|Fuel Capacity (L):||45|
|Body:||5-doors, 5 seats|
|Safety:||5-star ANCAP, 7 airbags, ABS, EBD, BA, electronic stability control, traction control, space-saver spare, reversing camera, LED daytime running lights, ISOFIX|
|Dimensions (L/W/H/W-B) mm:||4,330 / 1,760 / 1,475 / 2,600|
|Kerb Weight (kg):||1,365|
|Towing Capacity (kg):||Not available|
|Entertainment:||7-inch colour touchscreen, satellite navigation, USB/AUX/iPod input, Bluetooth and Voice Control|
Competitors: Hyundai i30 Diesel, Peugeot 308 Diesel, Renault Megane GT-Line, Skoda Octavia TDI, Volkswagen Golf TDI