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  • Good fuel economy; fluid six-speed manual; capable performance
  • Obstructive C-pillar visibility; weak headlamps; slight road noise

OUR RATING
6 / 10



2009 Toyota Corolla Seca Review & Road Test
2009 Toyota Corolla Seca Review & Road Test
by Matt Brogan

2009 Toyota Corolla Seca Ascent Review & Road Test

The Corolla Ascent proves what they say about assumptions

Model Tested:

  • 2009 Toyota ZRE152R Corolla Seca Ascent, 1.8-litre, four-cylinder, six-speed manual, hatch – $21,490 (RRP)

Options:

  • 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

CarAdvice Rating:

– by Matt Brogan

Last week I drove Toyota’s top-shelf Corolla Ultima, and although the car was not without its merits, my summation was that for the price I considered it to be good, almost average, middle-of-the-road, but certainly nothing to write home about.

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.

2009 Toyota Corolla Seca Review & Road Test
2009 Toyota Corolla Seca Review & Road Test
2009 Toyota Corolla Seca Review & Road Test
2009 Toyota Corolla Seca Review & Road Test

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.

That’s not to say you’re missing out by purchasing the cheaper version, far from it. In fact all things considered the Ascent offers a very good standard level of equipment that can be tailored, rather cheaply, to suit your own needs.

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.

Add to that appeal a decent stereo, air-conditioning, front power windows and mirrors, remote central locking, adequate storage and a simple user-friendliness that all lend the Ascent a baseline of value that has been synonymous with the Corolla nameplate for more than 40 years.

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.

The cabin is roomy given the proportions availed, and quite comfortable too. Four adults fit comfortably (though seating is for five) with rear passengers afforded more than adequate leg and headroom.

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.

Better fuel economy, increased performance (just compare the 0-100 figures) and a gearbox that feels incredibly well suited to the engine in terms of ratio spread means that unless you really take issue with using a clutch, the manual variant is a far better option for extracting the most from your Corolla – and your wallet!

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.

While it may be built for a price the Corolla feels solid, drives well and offers very good value for money, and with all of us driving our dollar even harder at the moment (no pun intended), it’s not difficult to see why the humble Ascent is so popular.

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.

Ratings:

CarAdvice Overall Rating:
How does it Drive:
How does it Look:
How does it Go:

Specifications:

  • Engine: 1798cc DOHC four-cylinder (16 valve)
  • Power: 100kW @ 6000rpm
  • Torque: 175Nm @ 4400rpm
  • Induction: Multi-Point
  • Transmission: Six-speed manual
  • Driven Wheels: Front
  • Brakes: Discs with ABS, EBA & EBD
  • Top Speed: 200km/h
  • 0-100km/h: 9.7 seconds
  • CO2 Emissions: 174 grams per kilometre
  • Fuel Consumption: 7.4 litres per 100km (ADR)
  • Fuel Consumption: 7.9 litres per 100km (As Tested)
  • Fuel Tank Capacity: 55 litres
  • Fuel Type: 91RON petrol
  • ANCAP Rating: New model TBC (previously five-stars)
  • Airbags: Front, Side, curtain & driver’s knee
  • Safety: ESP with Traction Control
  • Spare Wheel: 15-inch steel (Full Size)
  • Suspension: Strut (F) / Torsion Beam (R)
  • Cargo Capacity: 283 litres (Seats Up)
  • Tow Capacity: 1300kg (Braked)
  • Turning Circle: 10.4 metres
  • Warranty: Three year/100,000 kilometre
  • Weight: 1275kg (Tare)
  • Wheels: Steel 15 x 6.0-inch


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TOYOTA COROLLA BREAKDOWN

2009 Toyota Corolla Seca Review & Road Test
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Toyota Corolla Specs

ASCENT : ZRE152R : 1.8L MULTI POINT F/INJ - 4 SP AUTOMATIC - UNLEADED PETROL - 4D SEDAN
Car Details
Make
TOYOTA
Model
COROLLA
Variant
ASCENT
Series
ZRE152R
Year
2009
Body Type
4D SEDAN
Seats
5
Pricing
New Price
N/A
Private Sale
$8,030 - $9,130
Dealer Retail
$9,530 - $11,330
Dealer Trade
$6,400 - $7,300
Engine Specifications
Engine Type
MULTI POINT F/INJ
Engine Size
1.8L
Cylinders
INLINE 4
Max. Torque
175Nm @  4400rpm
Max. Power
100kW @  6000rpm
Pwr:Wgt Ratio
76W/kg
Bore & Stroke
80.5x88.3mm
Compression Ratio
10
Valve Gear
VARIABLE DOUBLE OVERHEAD CAM
Drivetrain Specifications
Transmission
4 SP AUTOMATIC
Drive Type
FRONT WHEEL DRIVE
Final Drive Ratio
4.237
Fuel Specifications
Fuel Type
UNLEADED PETROL
Fuel Tank Capacity
55Litres
Fuel Consumption (Combined)
7.4L / 100km
Weight & Measurement
Kerb Weight
1315
Gross Vehicle Weight
Not Provided
Height
1475mm
Length
4540mm
Width
1760mm
Ground Clearance
102mm
Towing Capacity
Brake:1300  Unbrake:450
Steering & Suspension
Steering Type
RACK & PINION - POWER ASSISTED
Turning Circle
10.4
Front Rim Size
6x15
Rear Rim Size
6x15
Front Tyres
195/65 R15
Rear Tyres
195/65 R15
Wheel Base
2600
Front Track
1535
Rear Track
1532
Front Brakes
DISC - VENTILATED
Rear Brakes
DISC
Front Suspension
MacPherson strut, Coil Spring, Gas damper, Lower control arm, Anti roll bar
Rear Suspension
Trailing arm, Torsion bar, Coil Spring, Gas damper
Standard Features
Comfort
Air Conditioning
Control & Handling
Electronic Brake Force Distribution
Driver
Power Steering, Trip Computer
Entertainment
Radio CD with 6 Speakers
Exterior
Power Mirrors
Interior
Cloth Trim, Power Windows Front
Safety
Dual Front Airbag Package, Anti-lock Braking, Seatbelts - Pre-tensioners Front Seats
Security
Central Locking Remote Control, Engine Immobiliser
Optional Features
Exterior
Metallic Paint
Safety
Safety Pack
Other
Service Interval
6 months /  10,000 kms
Warranty
36 months /  100,000 kms
VIN Plate Location
Driver Side Front Floor
Country of Origin
Japan