Ahead of its North American reveal at the New York Motor Show later this week, Toyota has shed off quite a bit of the mystery surrounding the next-generation Corolla hatch. Previewed earlier this month in Geneva as the Auris, the car’s debut in the Big Apple promises to be more encompassing, and so far seems worthy of more excitement.
The sporty exterior is now showcased in a bright blue here, probably to match the more sporting character of this XSE variant with its lowered stance and big alloys. In every relevant dimension except height - wheelbase, length, width - the all-new Corolla is a measurably larger vehicle, but one that hides it with a more striking design that can even be described as genuinely handsome.
The slim wraparound LED headlights and gaping hexagonal grille really do dominate that front end, and by extension, one’s first impression of the car and gives even the entry level SE a sense of athleticism that was missing from prior generations, an aesthetic move that mirrors the recently revealed Camry and C-HR crossover before that.
Like those two (along with the 4th-generation Prius), the Corolla is built upon Toyota’s modular TNGA platform, and along with promising a lighter construction, improve rigidity and more engineering freedom, the Japanese automaker’s claims that this will indeed be quite fun to drive not just relative to other Corollas, putting in contention with class leaders such as the Ford Focus.
Every variant will receive a relatively standard MacPherson front strut setup but also revised coil spring and damper rates to improve steering feel, handling stability, and ride comfort. Meanwhile, a multi-link rear suspension will also be standard fit, augmented by a rear stabiliser bar. Overall, Toyota claims a 40 percent reduction in suspension friction and a centre of gravity that’s 0.8 inches lower.
So far, Toyota hasn’t revealed much about the engines, though it’s likely to start with a 1.8-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder petrol that’s similar, if not identical, to ones we’ve seen deployed recently. No figures have been released thus yet, leaving us to wonder how much it will differ from the 2ZR-FBE’s 100kW and 207Nm.
The 2.0-litre unit announced for the Corolla, meanwhile, is the more interesting of the duo. Plucked from their new Dynamic Force range of petrol motors, the M20A-FKS is one of their most advanced production engines yet, using a variety of innovative features to improve fuel economy while increasing power. As was indicated back in Geneva, some of these will be paired to an electric motor and hybrid configuration.
Keen driver’s will be glad to know that Toyota is making a point to emphasise that the next-generation Corolla will feature a six-speed manual. Called the iMT, or Intelligent Manual Transmission, it will be able to communicate with the engine management system to coordinate gear shifts to adjust engine revolutions while changing gears to ensure smoother operation and quicker cog swaps.
In addition to that, there will be Toyota’s new Dynamic Shift CVT - a transmission that seeks to address the criticisms of a normal continuously variable unit by adding a fixed ratio ‘launch gear’ to handle acceleration from standstill - the first of its kind - where belt efficiency is weakest. Shift paddles will be equipped for most Corollas paired to this auto box along with a Sport Mode to wind through the 10 simulated ratios.
The interior of the all-new hatch looks markedly more upmarket in these pre-release pictures, adopting the same fluid aesthetic in the Camry and C-HR, something they term as ‘Sensuous Minimalsm’. It will also feature Toyota’s new Entune 3.0 infotainment system displayed through a freestanding 8-inch touchscreen with support for Apple CarPlay.
Standard equipment highlights includes Qi wireless smartphone charging, climate control, and keyless entry while higher grades will incorporate leather upholstery, electric driver’s seat, 7-inch multi-info display in the instrument panel. Early safety specifications include AEB with pedestrian detection, blind spot monitoring, and lane departure warning.