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We’ve just been given this as a courtesy car after a nasty incident in our Kuga
M1 southbound, the fuel line broke, squirting 50 litres of diesel into the engine bay in about a minute. One minute we had a full tank, the next we were coasting to a dead stop with huge clouds of smoke coming out from under the bonnet. I dread to think of what might have happened had it been petrol. If you were held up by the recovery of a smoky Kuga last week, sorry 😞
Anyway, we were given a 1.8 Corolla estate, in Icon Tech trim, until the Kuga is repaired and decontaminated as most of the diesel is still in the car, effectively jetwashed into every nook and cranny
I wasn’t really expecting great things as I’m not a big fan of hybrids in general, I’d heard horror stories about their economy on the motorway, and I strongly believe that CVT gearboxes only belong on dustbin lorries and buses
So after 1000 miles in this “thing” you’d expect we can’t wait to get rid of it, right?
Spoiler alert: we don’t want the Kuga back!
So, a few points in order. The styling. I’ve always liked the styling of the latest Corolla in estate form. Sure it’s bland, but then so are the stars of TOWIE and look how much adulation they get. I do think it’s a looker in its own right, and I think the only reason it doesn’t get more attention is because people think they are only bought by Uber drivers. But I like it, so there
The seats are a bit too thinly padded and took quite a long while before I found comfort in them, but once I hit the sweet spot, I could drive it all day
The performance of the 1.8 is a bit woeful but you don’t buy cars like this if you’re a boy racer, and there is 2.0 available with a big performance – and price- increase. But thanks to the electric motor, throttle response is instantaneous. Not like non-turbo petrol instantaneous, but literally, quantum lengths of a fraction of a second instantaneous. It leaps away from the lights for the first couple of seconds, even if the petrol unit doesn’t kick in. On the motorway there is enough oomph – just – to make overtaking easy, but it’s never going to win any prizes
I’m this guise, Icon Tech – the second cheapest model in the Motability line up – has radar cruise control which is magic – I’ve never had a car with this before and I now consider it a deal breaker – reversing camera and front and back parking sensors. I think it comes with park assist too but I never use it anyway. It also came with CarPlay and Android Auto. Not sure how many of these were included in the standard model, if any
I thought given the weight of the batteries that it would either wallow or be too firm, but Toyota have hit a sweet balance. It’s not going to win any prizes for handling but it handles a helluva lot better than our Kuga, and strangely, given the Corolla vs Kuga ride height, it rides so much better too. A lot more comfy, and deals with potholes much better
My biggest bugbear with Japanese autos is their fondness for CVT gearboxes but on this car it’s absolutely no issue. Because the car is so quiet anyway, and there is a noise reducing windscreen, there are times when I can tell the petrol engine is running only by glancing at the rev counter to be sure. It probably helps that because the engine is switched off for significant periods of time that I’ve just learned to detach the “rubber band” feeling from the engine note
So, the big one – fuel economy. Would taking a 1.8 hybrid in the motorway for long stretches really just be like driving a 1.8 petrol with an extra couple of passengers that you couldn’t eject?
No. My economy, after a handful of long motorway runs and also rat run commutes, is 63 mpg. The official figure is in the high 50’s. I’m beating the official figures and I haven’t even started trying yet! Any Corolla owners here that can confirm this? Or am I getting a false reading?
Anyway, I don’t want to carry on singing it’s praises too highly – Toyota might read this and decide to increase their prices in Q2, when we’re due to order
But seriously, this is a fantastic car, solid build quality, good looking, fast enough for most, economical, smooooooooth and just really easy to drive
It has won over a hardened hybrid sceptic