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by Ewan Kennedy

Toyota Corolla is a huge seller in Australia and has been for decades. Not content to rest on its laurels, Toyota Australia has announced a special edition called the Corolla Ascent Sport. It is based on the standard Corolla Ascent hatch – no sedans are being built. The Ascent Sport has $1600 of extra equipment over and above that of the donor car, yet Toyota is retailing it for only $510 more.

The Corolla special edition has 16-inch alloy ‘blade’ wheels carrying 205/55R16 tyres, front foglamps while a body kit consisting of a front spoiler and a rear wing lifts the appearance. Ascent ‘Sport’ badges let others know you are driving something out of the ordinary.

Inside, the Corolla Ascent Sport has a Gen Y audio head unit with amber backlighting, a joystick and a single CD player. Bluetooth is a major feature, with phone hands-free capability and streaming. There is USB connectivity and 3.5 mm input jack. Corolla Ascent Sport also receives cruise control, a premium steering wheel and premium gearshift knob as part of its upgrade.

Toyota Corolla is quite a large car in its latest format and can seat four adults in comfort, with good legroom and headroom for all. The rear floor is virtually flat all the way across so foot room is much better than average for the occupant, preferably a child, sitting in the centre-rear seat.

Interior stowage is very good, with reasonably large door pockets, a pair of gloveboxes, a large centre-console and a special spot for sunglasses above the interior mirror.

Toyota Corolla has handling that is positive, with good turn in and only moderate understeer unless you push it hard. There’s good feedback through the steering wheel and all but the most enthusiastic of drivers will appreciate the way the compromise between ride and handling has been reached. Bad bumps can catch the Corolla out from time to time but on the whole it’s capable of handling even harsh country roads.

The Toyota’s body has a taut feel that’s almost European in the way it handles rough surfaces with nary a squeak or a rattle. This promises even more long-term durability than we have become accustomed to in the Corolla for many years now.

Power comes from the proven Toyota 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine. It’s a modern unit that’s happy to putter along at anything over 1500 rpm, and only needs 2000 revs to really come into its torque band. This engine is quite pleasant to sit behind and makes the Corolla feel smooth and refined.

The recommend retail price starts at $22,250 for the Toyota Corolla Ascent Sport with a six-speed manual gearbox. An automatic transmission adds $2000. On-road costs are not included in these prices.

  • Why?

    100kws 175Nms 4 speed auto. Very much a Sports Special.

    • gt6

      Sounds just like a marketing exec watching me put on a pair of runners and then announcing me as an athelete.

  • Mad Max

    So its a Corolla with ugly alloy wheels and a pair of foglights. And Toyota thinks that justifies a “sports” badge. For goodness sakes, get somebody in there that knows what enthusiests want in a car and give them a “proper” sports car. How about a turbo charged engine with 150kw, 30mm lower, 6 speed auto or DSG box, proper sports seats etc etc etc. Maybe then they would sell to a younger audience.

    • Who?

      Good luck with finding a car with those specs for this price. I agree this corolla doesn’t deserve the ‘sport’ nomenclature but from a marketing pov, it’s purely for easier consumer understanding.

      • xnov

        right-hand traffic is better

  • Toxic_Horse

    “let others know you are driving something out of the ordinary.”
    Ewan, did you actually drive one of these. the interior in these cars makes you feel like the whole car is made of plastic. The turning circle reminds me of a 80’s laser. and the so called ‘positive handeling’ makes for one of the most boring drives this side of the Camry.

    • Radbloke

      It reads more like an advertorial than anything…

  • http://www.facebook.com/sammo.8191 Sam Moss

    Why people still buy Corollas in such colossal numbers is one of the world’s great mysteries..

    • Micky

      “People” don’t buy Corollas. Fleets do. Yesterday alone I saw about 5 white Royal District Nursing Corollas go by.

      • Golfschwein

        So, do we guess you’re 30 years old and still trying to refine your sense of humour?

    • Steve-Poyza

      couldnt agree more

    • binladen

      It is rock solid durability. It is not rocket sicence. No one want to keep fixing their cars this days.

      • Nobody

        I don’t get why it’s so surprising why people are buying these in crazy numbers. Most car buyers aren’t big on how good the drive is, they just want something that goes.

        Chances are their first car was either a Toyota, Holden or Ford so they continue to buy these cars as it’s something they’re familiar with.

        Yes a golf is great, more fun, more room, more go, more car. But VW reliability is still a joke, I know people who purchased the new Golf and it just keeps bringing them problems here and there.

        Ask any good mechanic and they’ll tell you about VW issues.

        Don’t get me wrong, I love the Golf but I’m not rich enough to gamble when putting down 25K plus on a car. I guess that’s why alot of people go for a Mazda 3.

    • Paul Gribben

      Because every morning it starts without a fuss and when it needs fixed or serviced it doesn’t cost the earth……check out Peugeot if you want to compare reliability and running costs.

  • nickdl

    Because you’re really driving something out of the ordinary in a Corolla…

  • carguy

    Plain plain plain……..i an see the Lawn Bowls crew flocking to this…….Ford Fiesta is 100 times better than this…….why people would buy this over other small cars which are much better it beyond me. Its not as if Toyota are a trustworthy quailty vehicle maker……far from it really.

    • Toxic_Horse

      the fiesta is a class smaller but the focus is a lot better option. as is the Hyundai i30 or mazda 3 or just about anyting

  • Jabba the Hut


  • Bob

    Cheques in the post guys!

  • NotTheStig

    Ah, so that is where the foglights have gone that they decontented from the 2009>2010 model Conquest…

    Mind you they also removed the underbonnet insulation pad and the plastic panel under the bonnet to pretty up the engine bay too…

    Have a look – Toyota pennypinching again !

    Tinny, nasty plastics, underpowered, urgh – no way thanks !

  • RK

    I’m not quite sure this is the right audience to cheer about a Corolla being given a rear wing and some fog lamps and calling itself sporty, unless the idea was to give us a giggle. In which case mission accomplished!

    • gazza

      RK the only giggle hear is you! Try and find a better car with the proven resale value,toyota service advantage and corolla reliability for 22k driveaway! RK you have no idea!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Devil’s Advocate

        It is here not hear, so I guess the giggle is also on you gazza! Hear is what you do with your ears… It is hard to take someone seriously when they can’t even get basic English right. However you are right in some ways, whilst I would never buy one, they do put up a good case for the “average non-enthusiast” motorist.

  • zahmad


  • Hung Low

    This is almost an older generation Prius minus the hybrid synergy drive! Far far last in its class! A car for duds!

  • Vibe


  • http://www.facebook.com/elgin.lam Elgin Lam

    That article definitely sounded like Toyota had a hand in writing it. I think CA should put a line at the start of the article like “this is a paid advertisement” or something, so that we as readers can know if their judgement has been affected by the exchange of funds. This is so that we can differentiate the true reviews from those that are paid.

    I am not against paid articles, there are commercial realities when running a business, but we as readers should be informed so that we can take things with a bigger pinch of salt.

    • Flying High

      There is no question many parts of this article were pulled straight from Toyota’s ‘news’ website. Refer to: news dot toyota dot com dot au/corolla-ascent-a-good-sport

  • so-pleaz-can-i-have-yo-number?

    caradvice is now part funded by toyota motor corp.

    • Dennis

      Well now i’m wondering how many other articles are paid by the manufacturer???

      CA’s Reputation going going gone….

  • Nelson

    This car in the is shocking.
    I will never forget the time I went to Nowra and back with intensive rain. I had allot of issues keeping it on the road, with out loosing control.
    Three weeks later traded it in for a Focus XR5.

    Toyotas are good and reliable but very bad when they come to extreme driving.

    I do think the 1.8l engine is more than enough for this suicidal machine!

    • maximark

      How could you lose control in a corolla in intensive rain? Unless you’re speeding, or hoon driving. This car is not meant for those purposes. No car is safe in the wet,when driven fast, I doubt your XR5 could do a lot better than the corolla, the focus has a better chasis than the corolla but it’s a front wheel drive after all. Get a Rex or an Evo to be safer if you enjoy wet extreme driving.

      For 23k with all those extras, good resale value,cheap service, and reliable I think it’s a very good buy. Check out for the price of those light cars like the new coming i20,fiesta,jazz,mazda2 ..etc..the top models of these ones are around 24k already, and they are much smaller cars.

      I am amazed that every time CA has a review on Hyundai or Kia and almost everyone say wow how good,nice looking the car is. But when it comes to a toyota’s review then it’s flooded with all the pathetic negative comments. I used to have 03 camry for 5 yrs and not having a single problem, I sold it to my brother and he has it for 2 yrs now and still very happy with it. For the past two years I’ve owned Subaru,Hyundai and Nissan and all of them have problems within the first year after I bought them from brand new. I rather have a car maybe considered boring looking,ordinary handling than the car that’s good looking,sport handling but spend more time at the dealer workshop than in my garage.

  • http://dodge franz chong

    These have good resale value and fixed price servicing plus reliability built into the Car also Like Mazda,Subaru and Suzuki they still source the Cars from Japan.I have seen what Nissan have done with the Tiida since I bought mine back in 2006 and the changes are limited to Side Airbags on the Base Models/Cruise Control on the Automatics,New lights and grilles,Audio Controls on the steering wheels,New Dashboard and Stereo System and a slightly updated ventilation control system and that is on the ST PLUS now they source the product from Thailand.The light cars are fine if you have a smaller budget or limited space garage though.

  • Al Juraj

    Never ever say ‘Sports’ unless you can come up with real power, more than 4 gears, and independent rear suspension.

  • Sexythang

    just give us a lexus is250 for the price of an accord euro or civic sport.

  • yowza

    Aren’t the Corolla bashers tired of the same excuse they post day in and day out?

    People with actual sports cars as opposed to the bunch of 18 year olds driving old crappy cars here shouldnt even compare a Corolla to a proper sports car.

    People who post here should not even mention sports or performance to BASH the Corolla…. seriously.

    Its a 22K HATCH… everyday driving. You buy it because its reasonably okay for petrol, you dont care if you put 5000KM on it in a month, cheap insurance and affordable to run!!!…. for the money and a fair comparisons, you compare a Corolla to a Mazda 3 or a Lancer…. and after seeing the price differences… most will pick the Corolla.. Mazda’s extra 10kW doesnt matter if you get it near the red line…. add in the extra features and you pay a good 5K+….
    Lancer’s a not bad alternative, but confidence on Mtsubishi is quiet low among Australians at the moment, but for the price and standards the Lancer is a fair go. Corolla wins by default due to its history and generally cheaper maintenance.. and higher consumer confidence.

  • Flying High

    I wouldn’t normally weigh in to a post about Corollas, however I have had a brand new one of these for nigh on a week as a hire car.

    I must say I was surprised to say the least at how well this car goes and the overall quality and user friendliness of the car and its inclusions. General performance under the pedal was more than adequate. It seemed to drink sweet f.a. in petrol if compared to what I normally use in my regular rides, especially if the trip computer is anything to go by. A week of peak hour driving in Sydney and I barely used a qtr of a tank.

    wrt to handling, there is no question of a noticeable understeer, when you try to power thru a corner, but this is not meant to be a sports car. The stereo is really ordinary, but the storage and glove boxes proved quite useful and thoughtfully designed. I liked the storage unit above the rear vision mirror when I discovered it after a couple of days.

    For what it is, I was very happy with it as a hire. btw when did Corollas get so bloody big? If there was one criticism, that’s the only real one for me, but all cars seem to start small and then seem to grow. It has obviously been a long time since I have been in a Corolla!

  • Ken McAvoy

    All the people who comment on Corolla’s are entitled to their opinion but that is all it is. Everyone is different and if a Corolla is seen as a safe and sedate car well I am not fussed about that one bit. I agree that they seem to have become a small Camry but then again I like the room in the boot and so do my rear seat passengers so it is a bit of a compromise. I took delivery of an Ascent Sedan today with the cruise pack and a tow bar for a small tralier. The car is really nice apart from the black interior but all cars seem to be having a love affair with black and as an inexpensive , reliable , fixed service 5-6 year warranty vehicle very economical. What the heck is wrong with economical – the need for speed and so called driving thrill passes after you turn 30 , collect your 50th speeding fine , get married (or not married) with kids and knee deep in debt so enjoy your so called ‘sporting’ years while they last. Before long all you under 30 year olds will find the Corolla very , very attractive. It sells because it works and they just go and go and go and never break down.

  • supporter

    Honestly, I’ve never been a Toyota fan. However, recently while on holiday my hire car was the Toyota Ascent (base model). After 5 days in that car I was actually sad to leave it!
    It was a beautiful drive. Great on fuel, I’ve had my Mitsubishi Magna for 8 years now so definitely getting over the pinch around petrol! I really just couldn’t fault the little thing! It was roomy and comfortable, so smooth to drive, it didn’t have that ‘stiff & stuffy’ feeling most smaller cars seem to have after spending so long in the Magna.
    We had the 6 speed manual model and it really was just a dream the whole time!
    The only thing that took some getting used to were the brakes – they are quite sensitive, but that’s in comparison to my own car.

    Truth be told, I looked at the website for pricing when I got home and I am currently hoping to buy one in the new year. I miss that little car!

    • nickdl

      Have you driven anything else in that class. I suggest just one of the following: Ford Focus, Holden Cruze, Hyundai i30, Mazda 3, or a Kia Cerato and you’ll get much better value. The Corolla manual isn’t bad at all but the alternatives above are better cars and you get more for your money.

  • Freddie

    It’s about time they bring out the Super CVT with 7 ratios, which is now available in the ASEAN Corolla Altis.