Car Test   R0244 (SEE ALSO R0241)
May 2002
  Toyota Corolla
Printer Friendly Page Featured model: 1.6 5-door
In the past, the main reason for opting for a Corolla (of which nearly 30 million have been made) had to be its reliability. It epitomized the mass-production principle of quality through volume - if you do it enough times and stick to what you know is well-proven, you can make it cheap and good. The only snag is that the result is often bland and unlikely to be a trendsetter in any aspect.
   There are signs that greater European influence has resulted in a bit more adventurousness in this latest version’s design - but not much.
   It certainly looks the part - both inside and out, it follows the Euro-norm in matters of trim and ergonomics, and its remodelled styling (the five-door is shorter, yet wider and taller) follows the current trend.
   Significantly, however, the three-door is no longer shorter than the five, and the estate version now has a true MPV alternative, for buyers with a more complicated domestic lifestyle. We sampled this five-seater Verso version with Toyota’s direct-injection, up-to-the-minute diesel engine. It becomes a shade gruff at higher speed, but its lower-rev manners are sweeter than those of some European rivals.
   Although the higher-powered version would lift its overtaking ability from so-so to "interesting", at present you’ll have to settle for 89bhp in this MPV. The alternative 1.8 petrol version has the power, but for most of the time it sounds more uncouth.
   The 1.6 petrol version is smoother and quieter in the hatchback - until you’re close to the legal limit or revving through the gears; even then, it’s not stressed, just vocal.
   The Verso costs £1700 more than the hatch (but just £700 if your alternatives are estate or Verso).
   Curiously, we prefer the driving position in the Verso. Its ride and handling seems just as good, too. The hatch’s back seats are more cosy and, up to a point, it offers good adaptability between the needs of people and luggage.
   However, the Verso’s greater cargo volume, with all seats occupied, will be the clincher for many people - especially as the back seat can slide forwards to enhance that space, as well (something the Corolla hatch doesn’t perform).
   We would be quite happy with the T2 (basic) trim level, except for the absence of any form of air conditioning. Otherwise, its equipment is generous, especially in matters of safety and security.
   Lovers of their own pre-recorded cassette tapes are finally frustrated, however - every Corolla has a CD player.
  considering size, price and rivals
Overtaking Ability
Fuel Economy
Security, theft of  not available
theft from  not available
  • lower boot sill than on previous version
  • unobtrusive centre armrest/storage box for driver
  • sunroof tilts/slides and doesn't buffet
  • nicely trimmed under/behind back seats
  • our test car had two incessant squeaks
  • only T Spirit has (Optitron) super-clear displays
  • rear head restraints more obtrusive
  • seat cushions stiff/awkward to tilt
If the latest version of the Corolla hatch had been launched five years ago, it would have been hailed as a trendsetter. However, such is the rate of progress in this all-important market sector, that we now welcome it as a worthy variation on an established theme. The Verso is different. Because it’s a Toyota (built in Japan, as well), it’s good enough to be preferred to European five-seater-only MPVs. Why? Because its road manners, accommodation and adaptability match all except the Zafira, with the prospect of superior reliability.

engine 1598cc, 4 cylinder petrol; 110bhp at 6000rpm, 111 lb ft at 4800rpm. Chain-driven double overhead camshafts, 16 valves   transmission 5-speed manual, front-wheel drive; 19.7mph/1000rpm in 5th, 16.6 in 4th
suspension front: independent damper/struts with integral coil springs
rear: torsion beam (dead) axle, coil springs
  steering electric power-assistance; 3.5 turns lock to lock; 10.6m diameter turning circle between kerbs (17.8m for one turn of the wheel)
brakes ventilated discs front, solid discs rear with standard anti-lock and brake-force distribution control   wheels/tyres 6in alloy with 195/60R15V on T Spirit test car (steel wheels on T2); full-size spare

size and type lower medium (mid-priced) 3- and 5-door hatch (of equal size); 5-door estate; 4-door saloon soon   trim levels T2; T3; T Spirit; T Sport
engines petrol: 4 cylinder/1.4 litre/97bhp, 4/1.6/110, 4/1.8/189 diesel: 4/1995/89 (Di Turbo), 4/1995/109 (with intercoder)   drive front-wheel drive, 5-speed manual (6-speed on T Sport); 4-speed stepped automatic optional with 1.6

HOW THE COROLLA 1.6 HATCH COMPARES engine (cyl/cc/bhp) revs at 70mph (rpm) 30-70 through gears (sec) 30-70mph in 4th/5th gears (sec) fuel (mpg/CO2) brakes from 50mph (kg/m) maximum legroom - front (cm) typical leg/kneeroom - rear (cm) steering turns/circle (m) overall length (cm)
Toyota Corolla 1.6 VVTi 4/1598/110 3550 10.4 18.8/24.5 40/168 14/26 109 98/74 3.5/10.6 418
Honda Civic 1.6i 4/1590/110 3550 10.5 17.8/24.5 42.5/156 16/26.5 107 102/76 2.8/11.6 429
Peugeot 307 1.6 4/1587/110 3500 10.3 17.4/26.0 37.5/169 12/26.5 107 95/71 2.9/10.9 420
Nissan Almera 1.5 4/1497/90 3165 12.3 24.3/33.1 39/158 9.0/27.5 107 96/69 2.9/11.0 418
VW Golf 1.6 4/1595/105 3540 10.3 17.3/23.3 38.5/17.0 18/27.5 111 95/71 3.1/10.4 415
Ford Focus 1.6 4/1596/100 3150 10.8 20.1/29.1 40.5/169 15/26.5 107 100/71 2.9/10.6 415

Good seat support and adjustment, but no wheel reach - just rake. Indifferent gearshift action, but precise stalks. Superior display illumination and audio wheel buttons on T Spirit only.
Deft cornering with responsive, nicely weighted steering. Not in Focus class for driver involvement, but no apologies needed nowadays, either.
You still feel the bumps but aren't too disturbed by them. The T Spirit's automatic aircon works reasonably well and its back seat is more cosy than the Verso's. A bit noisy at the legal limit.

Similar to the previous version - which makes it class-average; prefers a downchange when you're in a hurry - not as good at the diesel in fourth-gear response. Loud when revved, but flexible at low speed.
  acceleration in seconds through gears 4th gear 5th gear
  20-40 3.3 9.3 12.2
  30-50 4.0 9.1 11.6
  40-60 5.0 9.4 12.0
  50-70 6.4 9.6 12.9
  30-70 10.4 18.7 24.5
  max speed in each gear* (* using 6250rpm for best acceleration)
     gear      1st*      2nd*      3rd*      4th*      5th
     speed (mph)      28.5      53      77      104      115 (5850rpm)

Despite extra weight, more frugal than the previous 1.6; on the right side of class-average. Easy filler and good range, but can't quite make Band C tax bracket.
  type of use (air conditioning off) AA test (mpg) 
    urban (17mph average/heavy traffic) 28.5
    suburban (27mph average/6.4 miles from cold start) 34.5
    motorway (70mph cruising) 36.5
    cross-country (brisk driving/20 miles from cold start) 42
    rural (gentle driving/20 miles from cold start) 48.5
    overall mpg 40
    realistic tank capacity/range 47/415
    official mpg (urban/extra urban/combined) 31.4/47.8/40.3
    CO2 emissions 168g/km
    car tax band D

  from 50mph (with standard ABS)
This model has not yet been
tested by EURO NCAP
pedal load     stopping distance
unhurried 10kg     27m
sudden 14kg     26m best stop
+4kg ie 18kg     26m
fade resistance/consistency    
Euro NCAP = European New Car Assessment Programme: independent crash safety tests evaluating protection for occupants and pedestrians in an offset frontal collision, side impacts and pedestrian strike conditions
click here for more NCAP details/test results etc.

Shorter than previous five-door, so the luggage deck is smaller - much improved back seat legroom, however. Higher and wider, too, yet no more headroom but higher cushion eases entry/egress.
  in centimetres (5-door hatchback)
  length 418
  width - including mirrors 193
    - mirrors folded 171
  height 148
  load sill height (inside/outside) 11/67
  turns lock-to-lock 3.5
  turning circle (metres) 10.6
  easy to park/garage?
  front - legroom 87-109
    - headroom 89-95s
  rear - typical legroom 98
    - typical kneeroom 74
    - headroom 93
    - hiproom 128
  load area(all seats in use)
  load space
(litres/cu ft)
  load length 64-135
  load length to facia 240
  load width 91-135
  load height (to shelf/to top of aperture) 48 77
s with sunroof

Convenient as well as effective, the handset is powerful and deadlocks also fitted; alarm optional, even on this T Spirit. Security windows etching with a 24-hour helpline link.
central locking  
remote control  
remote window closing  
self-locking (static)   
two-stage unlocking   
attack-resistant glass   
AA load area security rating
=standard    =option    =not available
NCSR - "theft of" not available
NCSR - "theft from" not available
NCSR = New Car Security Ratings: a 1 to 5 star system which rates anti-theft protection, both of the car itself and the theft of valuables from within the car
Visit for more details
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