Review : Toyota Corolla Hybrid (2017)

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OK, I bought a car so I might as well write about it.

I needed a upgrade as the old Corolla wagon was getting a bit long in the tooth. After over 300,000 km without having a spanner laid on it I was going to stick with the reliable Toyota platform but I was keen to get something with a good deal more tech in it.

Enter the Toyota Corolla Hybrid.

It is a 1.8 litre petrol/100kw electric 5 door hatchback with CVT (Constant Variable Transmission) coupled through the hybrid synergy drive that first came to be in the Prius all those years ago and happily sips on around 4.1l of premium every 100km.

There is added weight thanks to the 100kwh bank of batteries under the rear seat that can be felt when accelerating but that same ballast slung low just forward of the rear axle makes the ever-reliable ride feel well planted. The added weight also means bigger brakes are added to supplement the clever regenerative braking system which will come in handy when pulling up in a hurry.

Inside, the interior is surprisingly comfy for your average bloke and the technology in the top of the line model includes a nice bluetooth entertainment/satnav system with the only omission being Apple Carplay or Android Auto support which for me was a bit of a disappointment. Toyota Link however is on offer but I could not get it to run with my Samsung Galaxy S9. Maybe we can look forward to an update to get the car to talk to modern phones some time soon.

Does it perform? Well, it is not a sports model but in Power Mode it does have enough poke to deal with the typical Perth traffic without any problems and cornering does feel confident.

On a technical note the power/eco mode has little to do with the transmission (as it is CVT) and more to do with changing valve timing to flip between the traditional Otto cycle and the low-compression Atkinson cycle. I would like to think that not only does Atkinson cycle burn less fuel but the lower stress on components might translate to these engines easily making 500,000km in their lifetime.

One thing I did find confusing was the very first time I tried to drive off. The startup and moving off sequence was at first a little perplexing but within a few goes I had it down pat as I came to grips with the push button start with all the safety interlocks. A petrol engine that only came to life when it was needed spooked many first timers who soon warmed to the novelty of moving away silently.

So far, I have enjoyed the ride and thanks to the care from the team at City Toyota, I can expect years of hassle-free motoring in a car that is legendary for its reliability.

A massive thanks to Phil Eades from City Toyota for getting me into my demo Corolla in record time with a minimum of fuss. You are a legend.

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