Drive – Toyota Corolla Ultima Review

3 Mar 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Drive – Toyota Corolla Ultima Review

Toby Hagon

Make Toyota Model Corolla Price $31,490, plus on-road costs Series Ultima Series Year 2010 Body Group Sedan Engine Size 2.0-litre 4-cylinder Emissions 181g/km Fuel Consumption 7.7L/100km Kerb Weight 1360 kilograms Power 102kW at 5600rpm Safety Equipment 7 airbags; stability control; reversing camera Torque 189Nm at 4400rpm Transmission/Driven Wheels 4-speed automatic

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If there’s a small car that has been a mainstay of Aussie motoring it’s the Corolla.

Now well into its fifth decade on local roads, the humble Corolla has built a reputation for longevity, reliability and solid resale values, even if generating excitement hasn’t been its modus operandi.

It’s also a popular little beast, occasionally threatening the Holden Commodore as the outright best-seller on the market.

A few months ago Toyota updated the Corolla hatch, while more recently the sedan has come in for a similar tweak of the inoffensive look, which translates to some additional chrome jewellery and revised lights as well as some extra goodies thrown in.

It also brings the addition of a 2.0-litre engine, albeit on only one model, the flagship Ultima, which is sold only as a sedan.

The gruntier engine may be the odd man out for now but it’s likely the larger engine will eventually make its way into more Corollas.

Price and equipment

Forget small-car basics, because the Ultima comes with a generous level of kit to help justify its $31,490 (plus on-road costs) price tag. Sitting at the top of the Corolla line-up, it comes with leather trim, Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control, automatic headlights, climate control airconditioning, keyless start, and power windows and mirrors.

A cluster of gauges housing an orange-lit trip computer also helps distinguish it from garden-variety Corollas. Whereas an automatic transmission is optional on other Corollas – and most competitors – it’s standard on the Ultima.

On the safety front, the Ultima owner is taken care of with dual front airbags, front-side airbags and side curtain airbags as well as a driver’s knee airbag.

There’s also a stability control system and a reversing camera. However, if you want a colour other than white – the only standard colour of the eight on offer – you get slugged another $350.

Under the bonnet

The Ultima is the only Corolla to get a 2.0-litre engine, standing in for the familiar 1.8-litre unit that continues in other models. However, the 11 per cent increase in engine displacement has only brought a 2 per cent increase in power, from 100kW to 102kW. Torque is boosted by a more meaningful 8 per cent but it still leaves the Corolla lagging prime rivals in terms of maximum engine output.

Combine it with a four-speed auto – some rivals have five or more ratios – and the less-than-exhilarating equation is amplified.

It’s not that the engine is underpowered, just that it could do with more oomph compared with the company it’s up against.

Initial acceleration, though, is good. The car responds quickly and effectively to throttle inputs and delivers respectable acceleration through the rev range. The 2.0-litre can become mildly coarse and vocal when revved, though.

The auto is honest enough, although not as slick-shifting as some newer autos.

Fuel consumption is better than many rivals, with a claimed average of 7.7 litres per 100 kilometres. We averaged just over 10L/100km, which is more than reasonable for predominantly city driving.

How it drives

While it has aspirations of being semi-luxurious, the Ultima is also about adding some driving spice to the Corolla four-door range. Sixteen-inch alloy wheels are shod in Yokohama tyres that grip the road well, even in the wet.

The suspension tends towards firm, so can get jiggly on B-grade roads but it’s compliant enough to cope with the rough and tumble of everyday speed humps and city roads. Steering is light but direct in its responses. Push too hard, though, or slip on a road join or grate and the stability control will kick in, beeping to alert the driver that it’s intervened.

It can be a shock the first time around and would potentially become annoying on a gravel road (where a slide is more likely) but it at least gives the driver something to think about.

Comfort and practicality

Forget small-car basics, because the Ultima comes with a generous level of kit to help justify its $31,490 (plus on-road costs) price tag. Sitting at the top of the Corolla line-up, it comes with leather trim, Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control, automatic headlights, climate control airconditioning, keyless start, and power windows and mirrors.

A cluster of gauges housing an orange-lit trip computer also helps distinguish it from garden-variety Corollas. Whereas an automatic transmission is optional on other Corollas – and most competitors – it’s standard on the Ultima.

On the safety front, the Ultima owner is taken care of with dual front airbags, front-side airbags and side curtain airbags as well as a driver’s knee airbag.

There’s also a stability control system and a reversing camera. However, if you want a colour other than white – the only standard colour of the eight on offer – you get slugged another $350.

Competitors

VOLKSWAGEN JETTA 118TSI

HONDA CIVIC SPORT

MAZDA3 SP25

Overall verdict

Rating: 3.0 out of 5 stars

The Corolla Ultima doesn’t do anything badly but nor does it excel in any area.

Its biggest virtue is consistency.

The new 2.0-litre engine is neither smooth nor particularly punchy, while the lack of a fifth or sixth gear hampers performance against more powerful competitors.

There’s also a reasonable level of equipment, which in itself should ensure the Corolla continues to find plenty of Australian homes.

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