Toyota now in the hot hatch segment

by Dan M | Posted on Saturday, September 8th, 2018

2019_Toyota_Corolla_Hatchback_003_E97A54B1E1D11E6A921EA0789C2B3101D1C72517 2019_Toyota_Corolla_Hatchback_026_3CE68E43AD4F76D5D4CD0C1A3FD05245E1E9CEA0

BY DAVID GOODSPEED
Special Contributor
autoworlddavid@yahoo.com

Toyota did something a bit unusual to debut its 12th-generation
of one of its most popular models. The 2019 Corolla arrived first as a
hatchback. And while this is not the first subcompact hatchback from
Toyota, it is the first to carry the name Corolla Hatchback here in
North America – and it’s a good one.
Predecessors to this new model include Matrix and, most
recently, iM that was rebadged when Scion was shuttered.
The new Corolla five-door hatch arrives on Toyota’s new TNGA C
platform that we first saw underneath the C-HR a while back. This is a
sporty new global architecture that will be a bit more pleasing to
folks who like to feel like they are driving a vehicle. Now, this is
still a Toyota, so no rally car here (not yet anyway) but with the
availability of a manual gearbox some drivers will be able to
experience things we thought long extinct in this showroom.
Goodies include new sport-tunedsuspension, the aforementioned six-speed manual                         transmission, and a new 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. I would love to see a small turbo
option in the near future but one can only hope at this point.
The new Corolla Hatchback is larger in every dimension over the
iM from last year. It isn’t much, but an inch or two here and there
makes for a more comfortable ride that is better balanced and offers a
bit more space. There is a lower center of gravity so drivers will see
a more balanced ride with improved handling.
My first time behind the wheel was a very pleasant surprise as I
could immediately tell Toyota has done its homework in developing the
new ride. And honestly, with a hatchback performing this well, who
cares about the upcoming sedan version. Vive la hatch!
This new M20A-FKS engine features direct injection and dual
variable valve timing with intelligence along with an electric motor
on the intake side to control the variable valve timing. This enhances
power output and fuel mileage and cuts emissions. The new 2.0-liter
engine is given the family name of Dynamic Force with its new
technologies as well as higher compression ratio (13:1) and longer
stroke. I’ve seen power ratings for this engine at 168hp and 151 lb.
ft. torque. While that is considerably better than the engine being
replaced we would still love to see some sort of turbocharging
offered. Hey, if Volkswagen can do it, why not Toyota?
All power is sent to the front wheels via the six-speed manual
or, as our tester came with, the new dynamic shift CVT and its
simulated 10 speeds in sequential shiftmatic steps. There is also a
sport mode and paddle shifters to complete the sportier dynamic in the
new Corolla Hatchback along with – wait for it – a launch gear. While
we found this new CVT to be one of the best we’ve tested in recent
years we would still love to be able to row our own gears with the
manual.
Toyota has recently made the commitment to safety in all of its
new vehicles and Corolla is no different. They all come with the
Toyota Safety Sense halo of active and passive safety technologies
including pre-collision with pedestrian detection, full-speed dynamic
radar cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assist, and
automatic high beam.
The new Corolla arrives with lane tracing assist as well as road
sign assist (in case your forgot what a stop sign looked like). This
is all in addition to the standard assortment of safety gear we have
gotten used to in new vehicles over the past few years like vehicle
stability control, blind spot monitor, and backup camera.
Corolla’s new sport attitude begins with its more stylish looks
all around but continues inside the vehicle as well. Ample leg- and hiproom awaits
occupants as does very supportive sport seats up front. In addition to
a new 8-inch color touchscreen multimedia display is a wireless device
charging pad in the lower cubby of the center stack.
Trim levels at launch include SE and XSE. Our XSE tester arrived
with leather seats with heat up front, multifunction steering wheel,
7-inch TFT driver information display, and Entune 3.0 Audio Plus with
navigation, suite of connected services, Wi-Fi connect, Amazon Alexa
integration, Apple CarPlay, and JBL premium 8-speaker, 800-watt sound
system.
The 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback just went on sale and the model
we tested was a pre-production unit, meaning there may be some slight
changes in the vehicles that arrive in showrooms. It also means this
car did not arrive with a copy of a window sticker. A quick search
online found pricing to start at $19,990 for base SE with 6MT
transmission and XSE models starting at $22,990.
Fuel economy for the 6MT is rated at 28 mpg city and 37 mpg
highway. CVT models see 32 mpg city and 42 mpg highway.
The Toyota website shows the XSE is only available with the
manual transmission so that is one of those “changes” I mentioned
between pre-production and production units – our XSE tester came with
the CVT.
Toyota is just now officially entering the “hot hatch” segment,
even though this hatchback needs warmed up a bit. Styling and content
are on point with the “fun to drive” factor in the above average
range.
Bring that Lexus turbocharged motor over here and we have a real
winner. If you are shopping for a hatchback be sure to stop at Toyota
right after Mazda and just before Volkswagen.

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