Toyota has shaken up Australia's small car class, announcing a super sharp $19,990 starting price for its next-generation Toyota Corolla.
The Ford Focus is the next cheapest key small car, with a recently reset list price of $20,290, the Mazda3 costs $20,330, the Holden Cruze is $21,490, the Volkswagen Golf is $21,990 and the Hyundai i30 is $20,990. None of these prices include on-road costs.
Toyota trimmed $1000 from the price of the previous Corolla to slip under the $20,000 barrier with the new car. It is the first time a new Corolla has sat at the $19,990 price point since December 2001.
Before the price was announced, an official from a rival car company told CarAdvice that he would be shocked if Toyota reduced the price of the Corolla to $19,990.
“They don’t usually lead on price,” he said. “It would be bad for us.”
The $19,990 Toyota Corolla is the entry-level Ascent version. The next model in the range is the Ascent Sport, which is $1500 cheaper than before and now costs $20,990.
Toyota has cut the price of the Levin SX by $1100 to hit $23,990. The Levin ZR tops off the range at $28,490.
These prices are for manual versions. Adding an automatic transmission costs an extra $2000.
The only other listed option is the panoramic sunroof, which is available only on the Levin ZR, for $1500.
Capped-price servicing is also part of the deal for the new Toyota Corolla, with a set price of $130 for up to six scheduled logbook services in the first three years or before the car has covered 60,000km.
Standard equipment across the entire Corolla range includes seven airbags, electronic stability control, cruise control, Bluetooth phone connectivity and a six speaker sound system.
The Ascent gets 16-inch steel wheels, projector headlights, phone and audio controls on the steering wheel, manual air conditioning, six-speaker sound system, 60/40 split rear seats, driver and passenger seatback map pockets and driver and passenger vanity mirrors.
Stepping up to the Ascent Sport adds 16-inch alloy wheels, a reversing camera, tinted windows, front fog-lights and chrome grille highlights.
The Levin SX gets the same gear as the Ascent Sport, but also comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, satellite navigation, a sports grille, sports instrument on a carbonfibre-look cluster and front sports seats.
The CVT-equipped version of the Levin SX also gets steering wheel-mounted gearshift paddles.
Buying the range-topping Toyota Corolla, the Levin ZR, means you get HID headlights and LED daytime running lights, chrome grille elements, heated auto-folding wing mirrors, climate control air conditioning, part leather seats, a self-dimming rear-view mirror, electrically operated lumbar support for the driver, keyless entry and start, and heated front seats.
The Corolla runs a lightly revised 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine. Power is up by 3kW to 103kW at 6400rpm, but has to rev 400rpm higher than before to unlock it. Torque has actually dropped back by 2Nm to 173Nm but the peak is reached 400rpm lower at 4000rpm.
The engine has variable valve timing but does without direct injection. It does have a new two-stage intake tract including a short version for low engine speeds and a long version for higher engine speeds.
Don’t expect stunning performance from the new car, with the manual achieving a 0-100km/h time of 9.7 seconds and the automatic doing the same run in 10 seconds flat.
The standard gearbox is a six-speed manual, while the automatic option is now a continuously variable transmission (CVT), which constantly changes gear ratios and has no step changes in regular operation.
When fitted to the Levin models, the CVT also has seven steps, which can be flicked between with the paddles.
The official fuel economy average for the manual stands at 7.1L/100km (down from 7.3L/100km), while the more efficient CVT version manages an average of 6.6L/100km (down from 7.4L/100km).
While sportier small cars like the Focus and Golf are fitted with independent rear suspension, the new Corolla makes do with a cheaper and more compact torsion beam set-up.
Toyota says the MacPherson strut front suspension has been substantially revised with new upper supports, modified springs and revised dampers.
The new Toyota Corolla has a revised electric power steering system with a quicker ratio.
Its boot volume is 280 litres, while Toyota says rear passengers have 20mm more legroom thanks to a thinner front seatback.
Toyota says the new Corolla is significantly quieter in the cabin thanks to a range of noise reduction measures.
Interestingly, a new cowl insulator and bonnet insulator are fitted to all models except the entry-level Ascent model.
The new Corolla is actually slightly smaller than the outgoing model, measuring 30mm less from nose to tail for a total of 4245mm. It remains the same width at 1760mm and is 55mm shorter, measuring 1460mm tall. The wheelbase remains at 2600mm.
Toyota has managed to trim some bulk out of the Corolla and the base model is now 50kg lighter for a total kerb weight of 1250kg.