2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback

This Corolla turns heads

  • 박재승 (james@koreatimes.net) --
  • 12 Nov 2018

By James Park


   If someone whispers ‘Corolla’ in your ear and you immediately think of Victoria Secret models in next-to-nothings parading down the runway, you are either weird or have weirdly overactive imagination.

   Because the Corolla is no supermodel; it is a solid compact car known for reliability, dependability and economy. And the good people at Toyota, by now, are sick and tired of you pointing this out, over and over again.

   So, what’s this?

   A 2019 Corolla Hatchback… you sure it’s a Corolla?


   Unlike the previous versions, this Corolla turns heads. Slim headlights, wide grill, protruding lip, sporty side profile, rear creases running down to dual chrome tips (unfortunately fake) all come together to an unavoidable conclusion for this writer: I would buy this Corolla for the styling alone.

   So, this really is a Corolla? Well, yes and no.

   Even with ‘Corolla’ in the name, Hatchback is a different animal compared to its sedan counterpart.

   For one thing, the Hatchback utilizes the newly developed TNGA (Toyota New Global Architecture) platform, resulting in the body with lower centre of gravity. More than that, it is more rigid by about 60%. Let me tell you, the Hatchback handles considerably better than the sedan.


   Unlike the sedan which is motivated by 1.8 litre four-cylinder good for uninspiring 132 horsepower and 128 lb-ft of torque, the Hatch gets bigger 2.0 litre naturally aspirated four that kicks out 168 horses and 151 lb-ft of twist.

   The increase in power is appreciated, of course, but one can’t help but imagine a scenario where a turbocharged Corolla Hatchback keeps up with the likes of STIs, GTIs and Type Rs. As it is, the Hatch is still a practical and fun-to-drive car with decent handling and enough oomph to make things interesting in everyday situations.

내부.jpg  Two transmission choices are offered: six-speed manual and CVT.

   Toyota calls its product ‘Direct Shift CVT’ – meaning it has a regular first gear to lessen the ‘elastic effect’ prone to this form of transmission. At the end of the day, whatever you call it, it still is a CVT.

   The test-car loaned to this writer, however, is equipped with so-called ‘intelligent’ manual. Push the ‘iMT’ button and the transmission automatically rev-matches during downshifts. Don’t turn it on if you’d rather do the old fashioned heel-and-toe.

   A proper handbrake is replaced by electronic switch, which is bit annoying to this writer. Then again, more and more companies, including Porsche, are doing this. One benefit of this system is ‘auto hold’ that comes in handy when stopped at the middle of a hill. Beginners for sure, but even expert stick-handlers appreciate this feature.


   The Hatchback is also the first model to be equipped with Toyota Safety Sense 2.0. This package of electronic nannies includes pre-collision warning, lane-departure warning, lane-trace assist and dynamic radar cruise control.

   For all these reasons, the Hatchback costs a little more than sedan, with the base S model starting from $20,980 before taxes and mandatory fees. The SE starts from $22,580 and SE Upgrade from $23,980. Add thousand dollars to each if you want the CVT option. The top-of-the-line XSE demands $27,980, but this model is CVT only.

   The SE Upgrade model with six-speed stick provided to this writer boasts 18 inch alloys, heated cloth seats as well as heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, wireless phone charger, push-button ignition and Apple Carplay. Android Auto is currently unavailable, but it should be coming soon.

   Manually adjustable seats are comfortable and the car’s interior layout is clean and simple. The touch screen, as well as all the buttons and switches, are easy to use. The fit and finish also seems above average.

   The shift-lever, while accurate, is rubbery and throws are longish. The clutch is satisfactorily light but the engagement point seems less than precise.

   Still, the car moves ahead eagerly and turns into corners with confidence. The lower centre of gravity and multilink rear suspension go a long way in improving the car’s handling characteristics. And yet, the suspension is soft enough for relatively smooth ride.

   For the manual transmission, the official fuel consumption is 8.4 litres per 100 km in city and 6.3 litres on highway. CVT improves these numbers to 7.5 and 5.8, respectively.


   The Hatchback should have all the hallmarks of what makes Corolla one of the best-selling cars in history. On top of that, it is now arguably the best-looking car in its segment. It also has enough power, handles much better than before and is still quite economical. The new Corolla Hatchback is now a ‘desirable’ car. (James Park is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada.)


2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback SE Upgrade

Price: $23,980

Engine: 2.0 litre four

Power: 168 hp/151 lb-ft

Transmission: 6 spd manual

Drive: FWD

Fuel: 8.4 litres per 100km (city), 6.3 litres (highway)

Best: improved styling, handling, power

Worst: not the best stick

Competition: Honda Civic Hatchback, Hyundai Elantra GT, Mazda3 GT, VW Golf



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