Toyota Corolla Excel 1.8 Hybrid
When stuck in London rush hour traffic, nine times out of ten drivers will be bipping their horns, grinding their teeth and doing obnoxious manoeuvres that will gain them less than an inch. It's almost like every single person behind a steering wheel is on the brink of a breakdown, while every person in a passenger seat is constantly tensing their arse due to the frequency of near misses. My experience this week, however, has been entirely different. See, the thing is, I really like the Corolla Hybrid, and I enjoyed driving it even in mad traffic.
Using the words ‘hybrid’ and ‘enjoy’ in the same sentence? I know right. Here’s a mic drop statement: contrary to popular belief, some hybrids aren’t incredibly boring. There are loads of motoring experts that would scoff and instantly disagree. They probably have far more experience than I do, but these are the same kind of people that think wind farms are an eye sore. The future, at least in terms of cars, doesn’t look as bleak as they might lead you to believe.
There is no option for a diesel when going for the new Corolla. Instead, Toyota is offering a 1.2, 1.8 or 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine. The latter two get a helping hand from a 53kW/600V electric motor. This will also apparently give the average city dweller enough pure electric power to cover 50% of their daily commute.
The 1.8-litre that I tested isn’t the most stimulating of engines, and takes almost 11 seconds for the 0 to 62mph spring. But if you’re buying a Corolla Hybrid to try and beat people at the lights then you need to take a good look in the mirror. The four-cylinder is, however, smaller and lighter in order to fit in Toyota’s new platform. Along with some other clever weight saving techniques used on the body, this means that the Corolla feels nifty and nimble like a… gazelle…?
The most impressive feat of the Corolla Hybrid is how little fuel it goes through. This is thanks to a bunch of techy nerdy stuff going on under the hood, like friction reduction in the powertrain and some wizardry with heat management. Essentially, I drove from south London to Hay-on-Wye and back (roughly 328 miles in total) and I STILL had quarter of a tank left. The instrument display told me I was averaging 46.9mpg, but without doing any maths, I think it could have been more.
The display is new for the Corolla, and there’s also an 8-inch touchscreen on the centre panel too. It’s super easy to use, and despite the fact that there are a bunch of useful driver assistance features, the system doesn’t mindlessly scream at you for no apparent reason. One down side is that CarPlay and Android Auto have been ditched for Toyota’s own media system, which is a tad frustrating, but can be overlooked if you’re not too fussy.
A final highlight of the Corolla, for me at least, is it looks bloody fantastic, particularly in black with some nice 18-inch alloys. There are lots of nice angles going on in the body work, and the fact that Toyota has shaved 25mm off the height while also lengthening the wheelbase just gives it a certain pizzazz.
I don’t often consider buying cars, because what’s the point when I get to review a different one every week? If I was going to do it, though, the Corolla Hybrid would be a serious contender.