2020 Toyota Corolla ZR sedan.When it comes to buying cars, Australians are no fools. Just ask Toyota, the maker of this country’s most popular passenger vehicle, the Corolla, which with 30,468 units in 2019, maintained leadership in passenger-car sales for a seventh consecutive year.

Petrol / electric hybrid models make up a fair chunk of these and, with the release of the Corolla Hybrid sedan at the end of last year, are set to turn up the wick on sales.

Toyota Australia president Matthew Callachor says: “Along with our existing RAV4, Camry and Corolla hybrids, it is clear our target for hybrid sales in 2020, representing around 20 per cent of our total volume, is well within reach.”

The Corolla Ascent Sport petrol manual sedan comes to market at $23,335, plus on-road costs, the Ascent Sport Hybrid CVT adds $3000 to the price, while the range is topped off by the ZR petrol CVT at $33,635. The Ascent Sport Hybrid was on test.

Despite increased dimensions – 10 mm longer and 5 mm wider – over the model it replaces, the sedan is unmistakably of the new-generation Corolla, owing cues to its sibling hatch.

Lower roofline, plus shorter front and longer rear overhangs, give the sedan a sleek silhouette, reinforced by flared wheel arches crowning stylish 15-inch alloy wheels.

A wide stance with a bold front end highlighted by large trapezoidal grille, arrow-shaped, swept-back LED headlights incorporating daytime running lights is mimicked out back with slim, integrated LED taillights tracing the outer edges of the boot lid and the tapered rear bumper accentuating a planted pose.

2020 Toyota Corolla ZR sedan.INTERIOR
A slim, broad-shouldered dash incorporates a large central 8-inch touchscreen hovering over air-con controls ensures vital controls come easily to hand. Ascent Sport hybrid features a large central analogue speedometer flanked by a tachometer and 4.2-inch Multi-Information Display.

A new three-spoke steering wheel is fitted with fingertip controls for all audio, phone, vehicle and cruise control inclusions. Climate control is fitted, as is keyless smart entry and start.

All seats in the new sedan have been designed for improved comfort and support, placing occupants lower in the vehicle, with new upholstery of embossed fabric for the Ascent Sport.

Door storage up front is big enough for an A4 folder and 720ml bottle, while a 500 ml bottle can be accommodated in the rear.

The glove box is augmented by lidded centre console storage, front and rear cupholders and assorted trays. Boot space measures up with a 470-litre capacity that can be further extended with the 60 / 40-split rear seat back folded.

2020 Toyota Corolla ZR sedan.

All new Corolla sedans feature a new-generation multimedia system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto on hand, AM / FM radio, USB and Aux inputs, full Bluetooth connectivity, voice recognition, Siri and MyToyota app.

Voice recognition offers a broader range of commands along with video playback via USB when the vehicle is stationary and six speakers deliver high quality audio.

The new hybrid powertrain uses a 1.8-litre petrol engine combined with a pair of electric motors to drive the front wheels through a continuously variable transmission.

The 16-valve, DOHC 1.8-litre petrol engine generates a maximum power of 72 kW at 5200 rpm and peak torque of 142 Nm at 3600 revs, adding up to maximum power output of 90 kW in total.

Safety in the new Corolla sedan has been given a boost with comprehensive Toyota Safety Sense driver assistance features earning a five-star safety rating across the entire range.

For CVT-equipped models this includes pre-collision safety system with day and night pedestrian, plus daytime cyclist detection, all-speed active cruise control, lane trace assist with steering assist and lane centring function, road sign assist and auto high-beam.

All grades also benefit from a reversing camera, seven airbags (dual front, front side, side curtain and driver knee bag) and IsoFix child safety seat anchor points on rear seat outboard positions.

Corolla hybrid sedans claim a combined urban / highway cycle fuel consumption just 3.5 litres per 100 km and low carbon dioxide emissions of 81 g per kilometre.

More impressive was the car’s 3.1 litres per 100 kilometres at motorway speeds and around 4 litres per 100 kilometres in the city grind. Combined petrol and electric drive and electricity generation recharge the battery automatically according to driving conditions.

The offers electric-only drive, activated by an EV mode switch on the centre console. Flick to Sport mode and performance is decidedly more responsive.

The electric power-assisted steering provides quality feel and feedback. Braking performance is well weighted through 255 mm ventilated front and 265 mm solid rear discs and is complemented ABS anti-skid control, vehicle stability control, traction control, brake assist and trailer sway control.

Like all Toyota vehicles, the new Corolla Hybrid sedan is covered by a full five-year Toyota warranty, while Toyota Service Advantage offers a capped price at $175 per service at 12-month / 15,000 km intervals.

Sedan fans, and there are many, will welcome the arrival of this version of the most popular car in Australia. It seems as though Toyota’s gamble in going for petrol / electric hybrid power is well justified and worthy of the Corolla stamp of approval.


MODEL RANGE (Corolla Sedan)
Ascent Sport petrol manual $23,335
Ascent Sport petrol CVT $24,835
Ascent Sport hybrid CVT $26,335
SX petrol CVT $28,235
SX hybrid CVT $29,735
ZR petrol CVT $33,635
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Toyota dealer for drive-away prices.

SPECIFICATIONS (Corolla Hybrid Sedan Accent Sport 1.8-litre 4-cylinder petrol, series/parallel, full hybrid, electric drive motor, nickel metal hydride battery

ENGINE (petrol):
Capacity: 1.798 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in-line
Maximum Power: 72 kW @ 5200 rpm
Maximum Torque: 142 Nm @ 3600 rpm
Fuel Type: Petrol 91 RON
(Hybrid system) Series/parallel, full hybrid
Output (combined) 90 kW
Electric drive motor
MG2 Maximum power: 53 kW
MG2 Maximum torque: 163 Nm
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 3.5 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 81 g/km

DRIVELINE: Six-speed CVT automatic transmission

Length: 4630 mm
Wheelbase: 2700 mm
Width: 2700 mm
Height: 1435 mm
Turning Circle: 10.6 metres
Kerb Mass: 1375 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 43 litres

Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Solid disc

Five years / unlimited kilometres

About Derek Ogden

On graduating with an honours degree in applied science in London, Derek Ogden worked for the BBC in local radio and several British newspapers as a production journalist and writer. Derek moved to Australia in 1975 and worked as a sub-editor with The Courier Mail and Sunday Mail in Brisbane, moving to the Gold Coast Bulletin in 1980 where he continued as a production journalist. He was the paper's motoring editor for more than 20 years, taking the weekly section from a few pages at the back of the book to a full-colour liftout of up to 36 pages. He left the publication in 2009.
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