It’s a Corolla, known for its traditional values, but it has definitely moved up a notch in terms of ticking more boxes than just being a sensible buy. It is a car you could buy because you like the way it looks, the way it drives or the premium interior.

A design that generates desire 

Every single person reading this knows exactly what a Corolla is: it’s Toyota’s mid-size sedan, which has sold around 50 million units since it was launched and is a firm South African favourite. But this Corolla is different from the rest...

Yes, the Corolla may be a sedan (although there is also the Corolla Hatch) but have a gander at just how foxy it is these days. Gone is the rental-car styling, replaced by a design that actually generates desire – not something that Corollas have been renowned for.

Upfront it’s the arrow-shaped LED headlights, big lower grille and sculpted air dams that make it enticing, while the overall profile is flowing and sporty, more like that of a coupé than a sedan. Big, bold 18-inch wheels and low-profile tyres in flared wheel arches add another dimension of visual interest.

Modern minimalist 

The dash is dominated by straight lines, but in a modern, minimalist way as opposed to a lack-of-imagination kind of way. A big 7-inch multi-information display (touchscreen) rises out of the dash, and it is this that your attention focusses on. It has multiple levels of connectivity, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth and USB, while other features of the Corolla include climate control with Eco mode, a reverse camera, power seat adjustment, one-touch functionality for the electric windows, keyless entry, tilt and telescopic steering adjustment, steering switches and cruise control. It’s safe too, with seven airbags, ISOFIX and an alphabet soup of active electronic safety aids (ABS, EBD, BAS, VSC, HAC). The XR model also gets Toyota Safety Sense (TSS), which has a pre-collision system, blind spot monitor, all-speed cruise control, automatic high-beam and Lane Trace Assist.

Always a pleasure to drive 

Driving a sedan is almost always more relaxing and comforting, and engaging at the same time, than an equivalent SUV. Physics deem it so. The 12th-generation Corolla is a wonderful example of this – it is quiet and very restful, and yet if you decide to take a corner at pace the car sits confidently where it’s supposed to, no grumbles and no fuss, and without any electronic aids needing to sheepdog it back into line.

Engines are limited to two options: 2.0-litre petrol (125kW/200Nm) and 1.8-litre petrol (103kW/171Nm). The former is available with either a 6-speed manual gearbox or a CVT gearbox, while the latter is manual only. Fuel economy is a good 6.0L/100km for the 2.0 CVT, 6.5L/100km for the 2.0 manual and 6.2L/100km for the 1.8 manual. 

An old favourite 

Long live the sedan, and long live the Corolla! Yes, everyone seems to be choosing SUVs over sedans, but there is always a chance that the trend will change in the future. The Corolla is a car that deserves to be successful, because it is an incredible all-round package in a sexy wrapper, and if you take one for a test drive you’ll see how easy it is to be tempted.

The Corolla 2.0 XR manual is priced at R420,500, slotting in between the 1.8 XS at R380,200 and the 2.0 XR CVT at R433,700. Included in the price are a 6-service/90,000km service plan and a 3-year/100,000km warranty. Visit www.toyota.co.za for more information.