Toyota introduced a range of sub-compact and compact cars in the form of Corolla lin-up in 1966. It went on to become the best selling car globally by 1974 and even outshined the Volkswagen Beetle as the best selling nameplate in the world in 1997. The Corolla series underwent numerous redesigns and reached its 11th generation by 2014.
Back in August 2000, this Toyota sedan was launched in its ninth generation in Japan and to keep up with the new expectations in the 21st century the designers gave it an edgier style. Two years later there was a facelift whereby it grew in length with subtly changed body panels and cabin design. With this makeover the Corolla came to be known as Corolla Altis in the ASEAN region. Tenth generation of Corolla Altis was brought out in 2006 and in 2014 Toyota Kirloskar Motor again went for a style update launching the all new version of Corolla Altis at the Auto Expo.
The two engine options include 1.8 litre petrol mated to 6 speed manual transmission and a 1.4 litre D-4D diesel also mated to 6 speed manual transmission. Automatic variants with 7 speed sequential shiftmatic (CVT) gearbox are available only with the petrol car.
Over the years, Toyota has played safe with the designing of Corolla and never experimented much to modify the looks of its (and world’s) best selling car. But the 11th generation Corolla Altis comes in a very different avatar and some styling cues have been borrowed from the Camry and also from the Furia concept model displayed in Detroit in 2013.
Measuring 4620 mm in length, 1475 mm in height and 1776 mm in width, the 2014 model is longer and wider than its predecessor. The sharper cuts and creases give it muscular proportions. With a lower stance and longer wheelbase, Corolla Altis looks somewhat hunkered down. The low hood, rising window line and sharp cut C pillar also add to the athletic theme of the sedan. Large air-intakes, upswept headlamps and jutted out wheel arches give Toyota’s car an aggressive look. The tail-lamps at the back are also big and are extended on to the boot-lid. This sedan uses 195/55 R16 tyres. Top end trims get 15 spoke alloy wheels.
Toyota also updated some hardware to improve the driveability of new Corolla Altis. There is a stiffer chassis and lower centre of gravity. The wheelbase longer by 100 mm delivers better stability. Furthermore, to increase the agility of Corolla, the suspension has been systematically redesigned and there is some work on the electric steering to make it more responsive.
Inside the car, there is adequate space for 5 and with extended wheelbase in this 11th generation model, there is more legroom for rear seat passengers. Seats are comfortable providing good back and under-thigh support. All variants except the base diesel have a touchscreen audio with Bluetooth, SD card, USB and Aux-in port. Steering wheel is rake and reach adjustable in all variants. A manual air conditioner cools the cabin of base diesel version and all others have automatic climate control. Top end automatic transmission variant gets cruise control with paddle shifters and eco driving indicator.
Styling of the dashboard is very different in 2014 Corolla Altis – it is visually more appealing than the T-type dash and centre console in the previous car. The ergonomics are also fine but the quality of materials and the overall finish fall a little short of what you get in an Elantra or Octavia.
The 5 petrol (including automatics) and 4 diesel variants of new Corolla Altis come with a range of tech rich comfort and safety features to please the buyers. And there is the Toyota warranty of 3 years/100000 kms. Price begins at Rs 11.99 lakhs for base petrol and goes up to Rs 16.89 lakhs. The diesel models are priced between Rs 13.07 lakhs and 16.68 lakhs (all prices ex showroom Delhi).
Toyota Corolla has won quite a few accolades through generations. Intellichoice chose it for the ‘Highest Retained Value’ and ‘Excellent Value’ in 2014. In 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2004 it won the title of Best Compact Car in North America in J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Study.
With a good blend of reliability, cabin comfort and practicality, Corolla Altis feels like a prudently designed saloon. And the Japanese carmaker has worked well on the latest generation model to offer an improved product to its patrons.