Day 3 - Toyota Corolla Altis Driving Performance

23/12/2011 - 10:16 | ,  ,  ,   | Kaustubh Shinde

Having touched upon the exteriors and the interiors, we finally place the spotlight on the driving performance of the Corolla Altis petrol AT. On the face of it, the changes to the design and interiors are not groundbreaking. But let me tell you that the mechanicals are not in the same basket.

What powers the new Toyota Corolla Altis?

The biggest change in the new Corolla Altis is the new engine. The older ZZ engine is out and in comes the 1.8L 2ZR engine with VVT-i delivering the firepower. Power has been pushed up by 7 bhp to 138 bhp @ 6,400 rpm and the engine delivers a healthy torque of 173 Nm at 4,000 rpm.

Corolla Altis petrol engineFacelifted Corolla Altis engine

The additional power and torque has not massively altered the Corolla’s performance in a straight line. However the engine feels more responsive and the power delivery is very smooth and linear. Adequate amount of torque at lower rpm makes it very easy to drive in city traffic. The car is quick off the blocks with the 0-100km/hr sprint taking under 10 seconds.

Once on the highway, a blast from 0-140 km/hr is child’s play for the new Altis. It is only after the 140 km/hr, one feels that the engine is slightly strained. The engine is completely out of breath at 180 km/hr.

The test car came with an all-new 7 speed CVT-i gearbox. This is one of the finest automatic boxes I have driven. The gear shifts are seamless and almost instant. Most autoboxes suffer from inconsistency when its time to overtake as there is a slight delay between putting your foot down and the box recognizing a down shift. The Altis’s CVT does it seamlessly!

There is a manual mode as well but I realized that the autobox was brilliant when left to its own. Despite being a CVT there is very little rubber band effect. Only at higher rpm is there a lot of revving without the car actually going anywhere.

Facelifted_Corolla_Altis_front view

How does the Altis handle?

Although there was no mention in the press release of a tweaked suspension, one notices a significant reduction in body roll. The outgoing model was very famous for luxurious ride that could even absorb lunar craters. I am delighted to report that the USP is retained.

The suspension setup gives the Altis is true identity – a back seat car. Rivals can learn by studying the way the Corolla manages the Indian roads. The suspension setup, as one would imagine, is on the softer side. Hence there is slight hesitation when cornering at high speeds. The electric steering which does not weigh-in properly at high speeds does not help the situation.

The Corolla Altis offers a four-disc setup, the front ones being ventilated and the rear ones solid. There is huge scope for improvement as the brakes have a very spongy feel when you touch the pedal. The 195/ 65 R15 tires can also be improved to provide better grip when braking hard.


What is the fuel economy?

No matter how hard or leisurely we drove the average FE remained stable at 9.6 kmpl. The car gets a slick new 'eco mode.' Essentially, a green ‘eco’ light pops up on the dashboard every time you gets your revs right. Despite of driving a stretch of 200 kms in eco mode, I simply couldn’t manage double digit figures.


What about safety?

The Corolla Altis has a very small list of safety features which include:

  • Dual SRS Airbags
  • ABD with EBD
  • Seat belt warning beep
  • GOA (Global Outstanding Assessment) body that provides structural rigidity


Things that that I don’t like:

  • There is a strange jolting when you choose the different gear modes
  • The eco mode fails to return double digit economy figures
  • There is no eagerness to get in and out of corners. You have to push it really hard
  • The engine’s response is brilliant when you are doodling in the city but there is a strange lack of power on the highways.
  • There is a startling rubber band effect at higher rpms
  • No traction control or curtain airbags
  • No paddle shifters


Overall, this is a thinking man’s simple car. It may not set your pulse racing but can definitely take away the toils of day-to-day driving without complaining – thanks to Toyota’s quality and reliability promise.

At the end of the day, it is hard to argue with a car that has found so many homes across the world. Despite the bumped up prices, the Corolla is still a very potent sedan for your day-to-day driving needs.

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