The 2014 Toyota Corolla will go on sale in India later this month in petrol and diesel variants. While the diesel variant may see most of the sales, the petrol Corolla is an equally popular model. The outgoing model had a near 50:50 split between petrol and diesel variants, while pre-bookings for the new model, Toyota say, indicate a similar trend.
To know more about the exteriors and interiors of the sedan, you can read our review of the diesel Corolla here.
The petrol Corolla is identified by the ‘Dual VVT-i’ badges on its front fenders. Apart from that, top-end variants of the Corolla petrol come with foglights, while these are not provided on any diesel variant.
The Corolla we drove was the top-end VL Automatic grade. The cabin is similar to the diesel model, save for the automatic gearbox and paddle shifts.
Toyota will launch the Corolla petrol in a total of five variants: JS MT, G MT, G AT, GL MT and VL AT. All variants get driver and passenger airbags, ABS and EBD. The top-end GL MT and VL AT variants get features such as LED headlights, foglights, automatic wipers, keyless entry with push start button, a 7-inch display with reverse camera and leather seats. The VL gets cruise control and navigation in addition to the GL.
Engine and Gearbox:
The new Corolla uses the same 1.8-liter four-cylinder Dual VVT-i motor seen in the previous model. This engine produces 140 PS at 6,400 rpm and 173 Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm and is available with a 6-speed manual or CVT gearbox. The version we drove was the latter.
The highlight of this gearbox is that its not a Toyota unit. Instead, the new Corolla shares its CVT with its premium sister brand, Lexus. Toyota claims to have gotten rid of traditional CVT niggles, and says this gearbox can even be considered sporty. What we did find out was that this is undeniably the best CVT unit fitted to a mainstream car. Even when you’ve your foot 90 percent on the throttle, the engine does not spin to its redline, instead it revs in a linear manner and builds up speed proportionately. The paddle shifts are surprisingly nice to use and hold on to the ‘gear’ until its redline.
Interestingly, the new Corolla is also fitted with dry sump lubrication, though we don’t think owners are really going to care about this feature. Overall, the major improvement lies in the Corolla’s CVT gearbox, apart from which the petrol motor feels the same as the outgoing model.
Brakes and Safety:
Like we mentioned before, all variants come with dual airbags, ABS, EBD and disc brakes for all wheels. We had a chance to perform emergency stopping maneuvers to which the Corolla responded very well. The brake pedal has very good feel and is confidence inspiring to use, while the brakes themselves bring the car to a halt without much fuss. That being said, Toyota could have offered ESP on the Corolla, given that this feature is seen on rivals.
Ride and Handling:
The ride and handling of the new Corolla petrol is almost identical to the diesel variant. The ride quality is very good and most bad roads are taken care of.
Used flat out, our tests saw the Corolla CVT doing not more than 7.8 km/l. With a lighter foot, we reckon the sedan should be good for 10 km/l even in city driving.
The market launch of the new Corolla will take place by the end of this month. Prices of the new Corolla are expected to be INR 40,000-50,000 more than the outgoing model.
Toyota expects more owners to take to the wheels of the Corolla thanks to features such as the Super CVT gearbox and dry sump lubrication. While the gearbox is a vast improvement over its predecessor, or other CVT units from rival car makers, the new Corolla is still not an exciting car to drive in the same way as a Jetta or Octavia.
Our verdict for the Corolla petrol and Corolla diesel are the same: this sedan is the most sensible option for a chauffeur-driven customer. The self-driving customers would still prefer the European counterparts.