2009 Toyota Corolla Seca Ascent Review & Road Test
The Corolla Ascent proves what they say about assumptions
- 2009 Toyota ZRE152R Corolla Seca Ascent, 1.8-litre, four-cylinder, six-speed manual, hatch - $21,490 (RRP)
- Metallic Paint $350 (Fitted - Sterling Silver); Cruise Pack $750; Enhanced Safety Pack $1500; Cruise & Enhanced Safety Pack $2250 (Fitted); Satellite Navigation $3740; Six-CD Tuner $850
- by Matt Brogan
That said you would assume that by jumping in to a lower-spec model this week that my impressions would be even less enthusiastic, somewhat cheapened, and that the base model sibling of the Corolla range would pale into insignificance against its more well equipped brother.
I guess then the Corolla Ascent proves what they say about assumptions.
My first, and perhaps most obvious reason for liking the Ascent is, quite simply, price. It's considerably cheaper than the Ultima - even when optioned up - making the Ascent a far more reasonable prospect when shopping in this category.
In this instance, the Ascent tested was optioned with metallic paint and Toyota's Cruise & Enhanced Safety Pack that, as the same suggests, features cruise control and additional safety equipment (seven airbags and ESP), as well as a sassy little leather steering wheel with audio and cruise controls.
Similarly to the Ultima tested last week our Ascent also features the optional Optitron Combimetre instrumentation panel that in my opinion really lifts the car's appeal from a driver's viewpoint offering crisp, clear and easy-on-the-eyes information, especially at night.
On the downside though the "C" pillar is rather large and obstructive when reversing from a 45 degree park and can make lane changing slightly perilous.
Road noise too is a touch loud at highway speeds and I found the low-beam lights to be practically useless on country roads, so-much-so that I found myself forgetting I'd selected high beam.
The Gemini-esque gear shift position can hinder access to the air-conditioning controls when in first, third or fifth, more so for the passenger, but you're unlikely to care given the sporty feel it offers the driver.
Unfortunately the same can't be said for cargo space which is a little limited compared to some rivals at 283-litres. If this is of concern, the more generous sedan may be of interest, though it's not nearly as versatile as the hatch, where the 60:40 split fold seats offer a large area for oversized items, perfect for those weekend projects.
As for what's up front, I'm pleased to say the six-speed manual really does make the most of the 1.8-litre engine's 100kw/175Nm offering, feeling much more alive than the auto model we tested last week.
The clutch is spot on in terms of weighting - something I have noticed can be far too light and devoid of feel in many of Corolla's direct rivals - while the ESP system is very well calibrated, not too sustained or intrusive. ABS braking with EBA and EBD is both confident and progressive.
With the seven airbag enhanced safety pack available from just $1500 - and let's face it you'd be mad not to tick this box - a basic, white, manual Corolla can be driven away from less than $24,000 - and what ever way you look at it, that's not a bad deal.
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