If ever there was a car that needed no introduction it’s the Toyota Corolla. First released in
1966 and arriving in Australia the following year, it is the all-time biggest-selling car
worldwide, passing the 50-million mark in 2021.
The current (12th generation) Corolla has been on sale here since 2019 with an upgrade
for the 2023 model year providing the latest fifth-generation hybrid powertrain, the latest
version of the Toyota Connected Services system as well as upgrades to the multimedia
As before MY23 Corolla comes in three grades: Ascent Sport, SX and ZR, each with the
choice of petrol-only or petrol/electric hybrid.
Toyota is very serious about electrification and has put a lot of work into making all its
vehicles low polluters. Since 2016 Corolla has come with the option of a petrol/electric
hybrid and this week’s review is on the entry-level hybrid Ascent Sport hatch.
With the growth in SUVs, designers of traditional sedans and hatchbacks have tended to
towards lower, sleeker profiles as a point of different to the boxier SUV shapes.
The Gen 12 Corolla is a good example. It’s longer, lower and wider than before with a
more coupe-like silhouette which combine to give a much bolder stronger road presence.
The front is quite low and the slim headlights are connected across the complete car and
run well up into the sides of the bonnet. The lower grille is very large and makes a nice
Exterior changes for the upgraded model include new 16-inch wheels for Ascent Sport and
SX grades, and a redesigned front grille for both hatch and sedan variants.
The interior is neat and tidy with everything in the right place. Seats are wide, comfortable
and supportive. Headroom is fine in the front seats but marginal for taller rear-seat
passengers with narrow rear doors making entry difficult for larger occupants.
There’s no sunroof option which would otherwise reduce space.
There is reasonable width for three adults sitting in the rear seat although legroom is
limited even in the longer-wheelbase sedan.
At 217 litres with the rear seats in place boot space is quite poor. 60/40 Capacity with the
rear seats folded has not been listed.
ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
The upgraded hybrid system uses a newly-developed high-output motor generator, power
control unit and downsized hybrid transaxle. These provide a 13kW increase in peak
power to maximum combined petrol / hybrid output of 103kW with the 1.8-litre engine.
Petrol hatch and sedan variants comes with the ongoing 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine
producing 126kW / 202Nm for the hatch and 126kW / 203Nm for the sedan.
Both petrol and hybrid models are front-wheel drive through a CVT with 10-speed
sequential shift mode.
Corolla Hybrid has a 72kW/142Nm 1.8-litre Atkinson Cycle and a 53kW/163Nm
synchronous permanent magnet electric motor. They drive the front wheels by way of an
The Corolla hybrid has a five-star ANCAP safety rating based on tests conducted in 2018.
In addition to standard safety features (seven airbags, enhanced ABS brakes, stability and
traction control) all Corolla models get the Toyota Safety System which includes
autonomous emergency braking, pre-collision system with pedestrian and cyclist
detection, blind spot monitoring, active cruise control, lane departure alert and steering
There’s also automatic high/low beam, reversing camera, hill-start assist and Isofix child
seat anchor points in the two outer rear seats.
SX and ZR add rear cross traffic alert and front / rear parking sensors. These features can
be added to the Ascent Sport through an optional Convenience Pack.
Although all Corolla variants have a relatively small 8.0-inch touchscreen it is very
functional and easy to reach to use. We really appreciated the eight shortcut buttons on
the sides of the screen.
Ascent Sport and SX have a 7.0-inch colour Multi Information Display with a digital
instrument cluster. ZR steps up to a 12.3-inch screen.
Apple CarPlay (wireless) and Android Auto (wired) are also standard, as now is DAB+
digital radio while a USB-C port has been added below the screen.
The SX and ZR get embedded satellite navigation SUNA live traffic alerts as well as a
wireless smartphone charging pad. Sat Nav is also available in a $1000 Navigation Pack,
although most users will be quite happy to use smartphone mapping.
Ascent Sport and SX get six-speaker audio, ZR steps up to an eight-speaker JBL premium
system. Satellite navigation with is standard on SX and ZR.
The 2023 upgrade added the Toyota Connected Services app-based communications
system to all Corolla variants. Owners can remotely check the status of the doors and
lights, access information such as the vehicle’s last known location and recent trips, or
start the engine or climate control.
The system can also provide assistance in the event of an emergency where the airbags
are deployed or if a collision is detected, by automatically notifying an emergency call
centre and allowing the driver to communicate with the operator.
There’s height and reach steering wheel adjustment. The driver’s seat has eight-way
power adjustment. The front seats are comfortable and provide good support in normal
driving even without side bolsters.
As with all Toyota hybrids, Corolla takes off silently under battery power before
transitioning smoothly to the when needed. The same thing happens with the stop/start
system in slow traffic. In gentle downhill cruising on the open road the battery will again
There’s excellent vision all round and sharp acceleration for safe urban maneuvering.
The steering responds promptly and gives excellent feedback through the wheel.
Claimed fuel consumption for the Ascent Sport hybrid is listed at 4.2 litres per 100
kilometres. We averaged around 4.8 L/100 km during our week behind the wheel.
Tyre noise is low at slow speeds on very smooth surfaces increasing quite a bit on rougher
Toyota Corolla Hybrid offers excellent value with hatch prices ranging from $30,630 to
For these prices you get a great looking small car with a large range of both safety and
convenience features. And one that’s now fun to drive.
Toyota Corolla has been one of the world’s best-selling cars for many years, often the best
seller. Having driven the latest model, now offered as a hybrid, it seems inevitable it will
remain at the top of the list for years to come.
Ascent Sport petrol hatch or sedan: $28,130
Ascent Sport hybrid hatch: $30,630
Ascent Sport hybrid sedan: $31,180
SX petrol hatch or sedan: $31,280
SX hybrid hatch or sedan: $33,780
ZR petrol hatch: $35,120
ZR petrol sedan: $36,620
ZR hybrid hatch: $37,620
ZR hybrid sedan: $39,120
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your
local Toyota dealer for drive-away prices.
SPECIFICATIONS (Toyota Corolla Ascent Sport 1.8-litre petrol/electric hybrid five-door
Capacity: 1.798 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Maximum Power: 72 kW @ 5200 rpm
Maximum Torque: 142 Nm @ 3600 rpm
Fuel Type: Standard unleaded petrol
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 4.0 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 91 g/km
DRIVELINE: Continuously variable automatic
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4375 mm
Wheelbase: 2640 mm
Width: 1780 mm
Height: 1460 mm
Turning Circle: 10.2 metres
Kerb Mass: 1370 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 43 litres
Front: Ventilate disc
Rear: Solid disc
Five years / unlimited kilometres