The new 12thgeneration. Toyota Corolla model range will compete strongly in the European C-segment for two key reasons:
Firstly, its newly adopted Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) GA-C platform not only equips it with superior driving dynamics and enhanced safety levels, but has also provided Toyota’s designers with the freedom to give each body type a visually distinctive and individual look.
The all-new Corolla model line-up showcases the wide, low stance of a more dynamic design which differentiates between the sporting, compact Hatchback, the sleek, versatile Touring Sports and the refined, prestigious Sedan more strongly than ever before.
Secondly, the new Corolla model range further expands the brand’s hybrid line-up. The Hatchback and Touring Sports are the first models to offer a choice of two self-charging hybrid powertrains –an improved 1.8 litre with 122 DIN hp or a brand new 2.0 litre unit developing 180 DIN hp- marking the debut of Toyota’s dual hybrid strategy. And for the first time, the Sedan is available with the 1.8 litre self-charging hybrid powertrain.
Reflecting the brand’s continued focus on self-charging hybrid technology, all new Corolla models will offer customers just one conventional engine; a 114 DIN hp, 1.2 litre turbo petrol unit for Hatchback and Touring Sports models and a 132 DIN hp, 1.6 litre for the Sedan.
All new TNGA-based vehicles prioritise the highest active and passive safety standards. The new Corolla line-up is designed to meet the exacting standards of independent crash testing programmes and provide increased active safety levels through the sophisticated functions and systems of the latest Toyota Safety Sense technology.
Targeting the heart of the European C-segment, the new Hatchback, Touring Sports and Sedan are dynamic and stylish cars which meet all the requirements of both the daily commute and diverse weekend usage, whilst combining driving enjoyment in all road conditions with the peace of mind and low running costs unique to Toyota’s self-charging hybrid drive technology.
“The all new Corolla model line-up showcases a more dynamic design which differentiates between the Hatchback, Touring Sports and Sedan more strongly than ever before”
INTERVIEW WITH YASUSHI UEDA, CHIEF ENGINEER OF THE NEW COROLLA
Which were the main focus points for the development of the new Corolla model range?
Corolla carries a heritage of more than 50 years. From the first generation model until the latest one it has always remained true to its original concept: a passenger car which offers strong levels of quality, durability and reliability (QDR), and a smooth driving experience which people from all around the globe can enjoy. This foundation, or ‘Corolla-ness’, as we call it, was our starting point.
Then, in the concept development phase, we looked at which new elements we could add for this new generation Corolla. We identified ‘dynamic styling’ and ‘driving pleasure/fun-to-drive’ as the two main pillars. To achieve these two elements we knew we could rely on the new TNGA-based GA-C platform.
One of the big merits of this new platform is that it allows designers more freedom to create a dynamic exterior. All three Corolla body types now have a visually distinctive and individual look with a lower stance and more appealing proportions. We’ve also ensured better all-around visibility for the driver by implementing thinner A-pillars and a lowered dashboard and bonnet.
The new Corolla shares its platform with the latest generation Prius and C-HR. From that point of view we already knew we had a good basis for driving dynamics thanks to a low driving position, a lowered centre of gravity and the multi-link rear suspension. Nevertheless, we were able to improve the dynamic performance even further.
For example, the steering response has been further developed to provide a better steering feel, and the rear suspension now features newly developed shock absorbers with new friction technology to provide an even better balance between ride and handling.
Why does the Sedan have a front and rear design which is different to that of the Hatchback and Touring Sports?
Based on the customer research which we conducted at the beginning of the project, it was clear that Hatchback and Touring Sports customers are very keen to have a dynamic looking vehicle, whereas Sedan owners tend to prefer a vehicle with a more prestigious look.
Visually the three body types are clearly related thanks to their overall sporting shape, but we’ve added a more prestige touch to the Sedan’s exterior design.
Corolla is a global model. How did you ensure that its driving capabilities are suitable for customers from different regions?
In the past there were clear differences in what customers expected from their vehicle, but nowadays it seems more unified amongst the different regions.
From the customer interviews which we held in Europe, the USA and Japan we learned that they all want a nice looking car that handles well. This makes it easier for us to have one main direction for dynamic performance which can be appreciated by all customers around the world.
Dynamically, the car is aimed at Europe, but for other markets we conducted some further regional tuning, optimising suspension and steering set-ups to ensure that the car copes well with local road conditions.
Did you apply different tuning for the three different body types?
The overall direction to have a ‘fun to drive’ feeling is the same, but indeed body type-specific tuning has been implemented according to customer expectations.
The Hatchback has a more dynamic character with more direct response and a more agile feeling. The Sedan and Touring Sports both make use of the extended wheelbase to combine good handling with more ride comfort –especially for the rear passengers- while still offering a stable ride.
Of course we also had to tune the Touring Sports’ suspension to ensure the same level of handling even when the owner maximises the car’s higher load capacity.
These different characteristics were already defined at the beginning of the development.
Did you also conduct prototype drives in Europe?
Of course! Not only because Europe will be the main region for Hatchback and Touring Sports sales, but also because, in general, Europeans have a more ‘dynamic’ way of driving.
The speed of traffic is higher than in other regions, people want their cars to be nimble for city driving and comfortable for long distance driving at highway speeds.
Therefore we conducted extensive testing in several European countries, including Belgium because of the involvement of our colleagues at the European R&D centre there, who were in charge of the development for the Touring Sports model.
Which element are you most proud of?
During the development several people not part of our team –such as other Toyota engineers, a limited number journalists, people from our global sales network- had the opportunity to drive the car.
Each of them had a big smile on their face when they got behind the wheel of the prototypes. This is the type of appreciation which makes me feel proud.
I know that in some regions the image of Toyota and Corolla is sometimes considered a bit… boring, maybe? But I am confident that thanks to this new generation’s sleek design and good driving performance we can turn this image around.
If you could become the Chief Engineer of any Toyota model, which one would you choose?
I would still choose Corolla; a model that is sold all around the world and which has such a strong heritage.
The fact that I can meet and work with people from various countries and regions makes it very interesting for me. I’ve learned that how customers use their car varies around the world. This makes it more challenging for us to ensure that new Corolla suits all of them. But this is also what makes us enjoy our job so much.
It is also our goal to continue to build the model’s legacy, and the biggest reward we can get is seeing how people enjoy our car and that they are proud to own a new Corolla.
“I am confident that thanks to this new generation’s sleek design and good driving dynamics we can boost the Corolla’s image”