By Khulekai Dumisa
SUVs may be on the rise and consumers may be investing in them in numbers but other segments still remain important. The introduction of the all new Corolla Hatch in the C-segment signifies this. Toyota wishes to woe customers from formidable local players such as the VW Golf, Mazda 3 and Ford Focus, and the new Corolla Hatch may be just what the doctor ordered in this strategy.
What’s in a name? The Corolla Hatch is not quite a new vehicle but replaces the Auris and the new name is part of the harmonisation of the name of the vehicle globally. The Corolla name is said to resonate better with the consumers and immediately invokes a connection with over 50 years of Corolla history.
The longer and wider new Corolla Hatch is not only banking on the name but also on a new exterior design. This is evident with the new bold exterior design. All models offered locally come standard with new LED and daytime running lights that appear dominant in the newly designed front with a prominent grille and wide bumper design. Like with front design, the back is more angular and muscular. The new LED lights that hug the corners of the bank make the car appear wide. To project an even more youthful look, all versions of the Corolla Hatch come standard with a roof spoiler and shark fin antenna.
The new Corolla Hatch comes in six exterior colours, including three new colours – Scarlet Metallic (Red), Oxide Bronze and Caribbean Blue. The latter might find favour with a lot of buyers as it is quite expressive and good to look at.
The interior design complements the beautiful exterior design. The upmarket quality found in models such as the CH-R are seen in the Corolla Hatch. The interior features soft touches that not only feel good to touch but also look aesthetically pleasing. The infotainment screen is generously sized and easy to use with additional information appearing on the odometer. The omission of AppleCar Play and Android Auto may be a missed opportunity for Toyota as this has become a key feature for the target audience in the segment. All is not lost as two USB ports upfront allow for certain functionalities to appear on the infotainment screen. The cabin is spacious and four adult occupants will feel right at home as there is generous leg and shoulder room all round. The front sports seats in the Xr grade will find favour with a lot of drivers as they look great and provide great support. The boot space is adequate but I feel that a bit of it is eaten up by the full sized alloy spare wheel.
Pricing may have shifted in the segment but buyers of the Corolla Hatch won’t feel too hard done by. The Xs grade comes with standard features such as LED lights (with LED daytime running lights), dual-zone climate control, smart entry (keyless access) and start, cruise control, power-operated heated exterior mirrors, colour multi-information display (MID), reverse camera and an electronic parking brake. The Xr package adds to this list with sport front seats in a leather and Alcantara combination, power-adjustable driver lumbar support and seat-heating function for driver and passenger and blind spot monitoring.
Key safety features include driver, passenger, side, curtain and driver knee airbags, electronic stability control, ABS, EBD, Brake Assist and Hill-assist Control. ISOFIX attachment points are also standard.
All models offered at launch are powered a 1.2-litre four-cylinder turbopetrol engine that delivers 85kW of power and 185 Nm of torque. The efficient engine is paired with either a 6-speed manual or a new 10-speed Sport Sequential Shiftmatic Continiously Variable Transmission (CVT). Toyota claims a 0 to 100 km/h in 9.5 seconds sprint for the manual (10.4 for CVT) as well as a top speed of 200 km/h (190 for CVT). Fuel consumption is claimed at 6.1 l/100km for both the manual and CVT variants.
At launch we drove the automatic 1.2T Xr CVT and the manual .2T Xs 6MT. We were struck by the comfort levels of both vehicles and the great noise insulation. The biggest surprise came with the CVT transmission which was smooth and importantly, didn’t have the usual glaring CVT noise often experienced as the engine labours away. This may be one of the best CVT engines that we have ever experienced. Not to be outdone, the 6 speed manual was also smooth, effortless with accurate gear changes. Drivers whose budget cannot accommodate the automatic transmission won’t be bothered much as this manual transmission will be one of the simplest they have ever driven. The Corolla Hatch also gave us a smooth ride quality and this stayed consistent in the small stretch of gravel road we encountered on the drive to our lunch venue. The Hatch, although not a sporty ride, remained confident and somewhat engaging when we took corners. Owners can look forward to a comfortable and solid drive in the Corolla Hatch.
There are three models in line-up:
• Corolla Hatch 1.2T Xs 6MT – R336,800
• Corolla Hatch 1.2T Xs CVT – R347,400
• Corolla Hatch 1.2T Xr CVT – R367,100
All Corolla Hatch models come standard with a 6-services/90 000 km Service Plan and 3-year/100 000 km warranty.
Leave a comment