Few name plates are as long-lived as the Toyota Corolla’s. It ranks alongside the Beetle and Mustang for badge recognition, and the 12th generation model is arguably the best yet. While past cars have been worthy, the hatchback introduced in 2018 is a great all-rounder.
Irish-spec Corollas are built at Toyota's factory in the UK, and it comes as a five-door hatchback, four-door saloon or Touring Sports estate. All cars are front-wheel drive, and while a 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol engine was offered for around 12 months after launch, the vast majority of Corollas for sale in Ireland come with a hybrid powertrain, which all come with an automatic gearbox.
Rivals are starting to introduce hybrid tech, but since Toyota has more than 25 years of experience with it, it's very well integrated in the Corolla. The big hitters in the compact hatchback class include the Volkswagen Golf, Ford Focus and Opel Astra, while other options to consider include the Kia Ceed, Hyundai i30, SEAT Leon, Skoda Octavia, Peugeot 308 and Renault Megane. All of these cars are also available as estates, while hatch-only opponents include the Mazda3 and Honda Civic.
What's it like?
The Corolla is as easy to drive as it's ever been. All cars are automatic, while the hybrid system simply gets on with the job of using the best power source for the driving that you're doing. There are 122hp 1.8-litre or 180hp 2.0-litre options (the Corolla saloon only comes with the 1.8), and the 1.8 is smooth and responsive enough for most needs.
If you can find one in the classifieds, the 116hp 1.2 petrol is a three-cylinder engine, and it comes with a six-speed manual gearbox. It's a decent performer, but not as efficient as the hybrids.
The weight of the Corolla's hybrid drive system is well hidden, and the car is agile, but it's also comfortable when taking it easy. It's not the roomiest hatchback for passenger or boot space, but it's not bad, and if you need more space, then the Touring Sports estate is worth seeking out.
Which model to go for?
All trims are well-equipped with the basics such as air conditioning and electric windows, etc. Toyota also fitted the Corolla with a high level of active safety equipment. Find a car with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity, though, because Toyota's built-in infotainment software isn't great. The GR Sport adds racier looks, but with the same engines. Luna, Luna Sport, Sol and Sol Sport are the trim levels in order of equipment.
Does anything go wrong?
There have been three recalls for selected Corolla models, one relating to the eCall emergency system, another to the fuel pump and another for cars fitted with a sunroof. As well as having a reasonably clean recall record, the Corolla is covered by Toyota Relax, the firm's warranty pledge that sees 12 months of cover every time you service the Corolla at a franchise dealer, for a maximum of 10 years or 185,000km. This alone should put the Corolla on any hatchback buyer's shortlist.