The hatchback versions of Australia’s top-selling car now feature two distinct appearances, with the entry-level Corolla Ascent and Ascent Sport variants based on the refreshed Toyota Auris from Europe, and the sportier SX and ZR variants getting more aggressive styling similar to the Scion iM from the US.
The price of the range-topping CVT-only Toyota Corolla ZR falls $1000 to $28,990 before on-road costs. The SX manual retains its $23,490 price tag, while the Ascent and Ascent Sport manual variants rise $300 to $19,790 and $20,790 respectively (CVT adds $2000).
A reverse-view camera is now standard across the Toyota Corolla hatchback line-up, with the camera’s image displayed on new touchscreen monitors that house the upgraded audio system.
The Ascent’s revamped media system features a 6.1-inch touchscreen with basic functions including CD player, iPod integration, USB and AUX inputs, and Bluetooth phone connectivity with audio streaming.
The Ascent Sport’s enhanced unit features a new 7.0-inch touchscreen display and introduces the Toyota Link connected mobility system with applications that can help drivers find a destination, fuel and weather details, and roadside and other assistance measures.
Corolla SX and ZR variants add satellite navigation with live traffic updates and the Destination Assist function, which allows drivers to speak with an operator to help find a destination. The service comes at a cost of $2.97 per use.
All variants get new blue instrument cluster illumination. Ascent and Ascent Sport models get a three-gauge cluster, while SX and ZR get two gauges with a 4.2-inch multi-information screen in between.
Other interior tweaks include revised steering wheels, new satin chrome highlights, fresh seat upholstery, and redesigned air vents, door handles and gear lever surrounds.
While outputs from the Corolla’s 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol engine are unchanged at 103kW and 173Nm, combined cycle fuel consumption in the six-speed manual is down almost 6 per cent to 6.7 litres per 100 kilometres, while the variants with the automatic continuously variable transmission are now almost 8 per cent more efficient, using 6.1L/100km.
Toyota says a revised transmission case for the CVT reduces noise and vibration.
The car maker also claims front and rear suspension improvements improve initial roll damping, reduce friction and enhance straight-line ride comfort. It also spruiks increased steering weight as vehicle speed increases, greater steering feel, and better handling stability.
All variants now also feature hill start assist, which helps prevent the car rolling back on an incline when the driver releases the brake and applies the accelerator.
Toyota Australia believes the interior, exterior, mechanical and pricing updates make the Corolla hatch a more appealing package than ever before and strengthen its pursuit of a third consecutive year as Australia’s top-selling car.
Year-to-date Corolla sales tallied 17,598 to the end of May, up 0.5 per cent on last year, and giving it a healthy lead over key rival, the Mazda 3 (16,300).
2015 Toyota Corolla hatch pricing (before on-road costs):
Ascent manual $19,790
Ascent CVT $21,790
Ascent Sport manual $20,790
Ascent Sport CVT $22,790
SX manual $23,490
SX CVT $25,490
ZR CVT $28,990
2015 Toyota Corolla hatch specifications:
16-inch steel wheels
Display audio system with 6.1-inch touchscreen and six-speaker sound system with CD player, USB input and Bluetooth phone connectivity with audio streaming
LCD multi-information display
Electronic stability control
Hill start assist
Ascent Sport (adds over Ascent):
16-inch alloy wheels
Front fog lamps
7.0-inch touchscreen with voice recognition and Toyota Link connected mobility
Premium steering wheel and gear knob
SX (adds over Ascent Sport):
17-inch alloy wheels
Rear spoiler and bumper skirts
Satellite navigation with live traffic SUNA updates
Additional Toyota Link functions (Destination Assist, Navigate To, Local Search and Fuel Finder)
Full-colour 4.2-inch MID screen
Sport front bucket seats
Paddleshifters (CVT only)
ZR (adds over SX):
LED daytime running lamps
Heated, electrically folding door mirrors
Smart entry and start (keyless)
Electrochromatic rear-view mirror
Dual-zone climate control
Leather-accented seat trim
Driver and front passenger seat heaters
Driver's seat power lumbar support