The endurance of the Corolla name and the popularity of Toyota’s small car is testament to the ability of 10 generations of the nameplate to meet buyers’ expectations, and a record of enduring reliability.
What you get
The ninth-generation Corolla offered buyers the choice of a sedan, a five-door hatch and for the first time since 1994, a wagon. With manual and automatic transmissions in most variants and five specification levels, there’s a Corolla for most palates and pockets.
The base model Ascent offers limited equipment levels with the desirable safety of anti-lock brakes (ABS) an option, and until an upgrade in 2004, airconditioning was also optional.
The level of safety and creature comforts rises through the ranks of Conquest, the slightly sportier Levin, and the auto-only Ultima. Extra sporting spirit arrived from 2003 with the higher-powered Sportivo, with a close-ratio, six-speed manual gearbox and other upgrades.
How it drives
The 1.8-litre, VVTi engine provides sufficient performance sparkle and responsiveness for its intended task but falls short of being remarkable, while fuel economy is respectable. The five-speed manual is well suited to the engine and offers better performance that the four-speed auto.
The Corolla isn’t agile, but blends good ride comfort and competent roadholding for a safe, easy driving experience. Ease of operation continues inside with a practical layout and useful interior space. Luggage space in sedans and wagons is good for the car’s size, though the more popular hatches are less generous.
Corollas have a reliability record that few can better, but even they succumb if scheduled servicing is neglected, so check records carefully.
However, certain models including the Sportivo, identified by VIN numbers that start with AHT, were assembled in South Africa rather than Japan. Their quality of finish can be variable, some parts differ to their Japanese siblings and can be more expensive or harder to get. They also suffer heavier wear to front and rear brake discs and pads. Toyota dealers can upgrade the front pads to partly address this.
Under the pump
Corolla will use between 6.7 litres and 10.0 litres of fuel every 100 km, depending on model and driving conditions.
What will it cost?
For an indication of what you would pay for this vehicle please go to CD's online car price guide or our Car review Advice Service on 07 3666 9148 or 623 456 outside the Brisbane area.