Review – 2014 Toyota Corolla Diesel
Anjan Ravi, I'm a true-blooded petrolhead. Hope you enjoy our news stories, launch coverages, motorshow coverages and test drive reports.
While the American market gets a sporty-looking Corolla, Toyota will launch this swoopy-looking Corolla in India by the end of this month. The Toyota Corolla in India attracts the rear seat loving owner, who couldn’t care much about engine power, or whether the transmission is a DSG or a single clutch. Instead, this customer looks mainly at comfort, reliability and the overall cost of maintaining the car, keywords that the Corolla is synonymous with since the 1960s.
While the Corolla is also associated with adjectives like boring and lackluster, Toyota say this model is actually exciting. So, is it?
The design of the Corolla has never set anyone’s pulse racing, but Toyota has tried to correct this with the 11th generation model. The rear profile of the sedan looks particularly sporty and yet premium, while the front facia looks well finished and proportionate.
The side profile of the Corolla gets special praise as the rear doors of the car, though extended in length, look very proportionate with the rest of the body. Overall, the exteriors of the Corolla will certainly appeal to its target audience.
The interiors of the new Corolla are much more simplified than its predecessor. A three spoke multifunction steering wheel rests in front of an instrument cluster which looks rather sober. The center console of this top-end variant is occupied by a large touchscreen display, below which controls for the AC are seen. The center screen is flanked unnecessarily by a carbon-fiber lookalike plastic panel, which looks quite tacky.
Build quality of the materials used inside are just above average, and nowhere near that of European or Korean rivals for that matter, and never has been. That being said, the plastics give the impression that they would last the life of the vehicle. Toyota could have put more effort in improving the quality of switches and knobs given the segment of this car.
However, with the Corolla, the highlight is towards the rear. Open the long doors and you’re greeted by a comfortable bench and an almost flat floor. Rear seat legroom in this new model has been enhanced by 92 mm thanks to a wheelbase extension of 100 mm. The seat back can be reclined by a few millimeters as well in a 60:40 ratio. Needless to say then that the new Corolla’s rear seats will be the most sought after place with owners.
The Corolla diesel will be available in four variants: J, JS, G and GL. All variants get driver and passenger airbag, ABS and EBD and automatic AC. The top-end GL gets features such as LED headlights, keyless entry with a starter button, a 7-inch display with reverse camera and leather seats.
Engine and Gearbox:
The diesel Corolla is powered by the same 1.4-liter four-cylinder D-4D diesel engine seen in the previous model. This engine produces 88.4 PS at 3,800 rpm and 205 Nm of torque between 1,800-2,800 rpm and comes matched to a 6-speed manual gearbox.
Toyota say they have improved the NVH levels of the Corolla to ensure a quieter cabin. We can support this claim as the Corolla diesel remained vibration free and reasonably quiet even at the top of its rev range.
The 6-speed gearbox is well engineered and so is the clutch of the car. The clutch pedal is extremely light, and almost petrol car like, while the gearlever smoothly slots into gear gates without any fuss.
There is no denying that the Corolla diesel is underpowered though. You need to be extremely patient to get this car up to speed, and overtaking moves need plenty of time. If you plan on driving yourself, the Corolla diesel may not be the car for you.
Ride and Handling:
The new Corolla seems to have been tailormade for our road conditions as the ride quality of the sedan is well sorted even over rough patches of roads. Bumps and potholes are soaked by the suspension very well.
While the Corolla is not involving to drive, the steering has adequate feedback and the body is well controlled. These characteristics ensure safe and predictable handling.
The Corolla managed 13.5 km/l in our short test drive.
Prices of the new Corolla will be announced later this month when the car is launched. Expect the newer model to be priced about INR 40,000-50,000 over the previous Corolla.
Though the new Corolla is positioned in the same segment as that of the Octavia, Jetta and Elantra, the Toyota appeals to a different target audience, as mentioned in the start of the review. To put it concisely, this target audience will definitely like the new Corolla as it builds on the strength of the older model by offering more space and a bit more features.
While self-driven customers may still prefer the Octavia/Jetta/Elantra, the Corolla makes sense for the back-seat loving owner. Being a Toyota, it will be reliable, and easy and inexpensive to fix.