After two months, Calvin Fisher finally gives the new Corolla sedan the roadtrip it needed
Forgive the coat of dust on my Toyota Corolla test car. It wears this proudly as evidence of a lockdown-enforced hibernation. Much fresher is the ink on my permit that allows me to work at last. And that means a 400km round trip from Cape Town to Gansbaai on some of the best driving roads. Anywhere.
The 12th generation Corolla sedan lineup has been whittled down from ten models to just three, with one XS and two XR models – my test car being the flagship. That means 18-inch alloys, sport mode, cruise control and bi-LED headlamps. At R433,700 it’s R5k less than the car it replaces at R380k for the new Xs. You’ll have noticed that the Corolla sedan is sportier all over, similar to the hatch with strong lines, J-shaped lamps at the front and LED lamps at the rear, and shares its new TNGA platform as per the Supra. As such it boasts a low center of gravity and a wide stance. There’s a new rear wishbone suspension for good handling and comfort plus a chassis that’s been reinforced with adhesive for greater rigidity and stability.
Drop a cheek into the grippy ‘bucket-like’ pews and you’ll encounter what Toyota refers to as ‘Sensuous minimalism’ in the silver and piano black cabin. Dominating the dash is an 8-inch infotainment display hooked up to a 6 speaker audio system endowed with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto plus a wealth of connectivity options. At your command is either 103kW and 171Nm from the 1.8l petrol unit in the base model, or the 125kW and 200Nm in the 2.0l petrol of my dark metallic blue test car. Transmission options include the 6-speed IMT manual or 10-speed CVT.
Let’s talk about that CVT. Did you say constantly whining transmission? You must mean constantly WINNING. No really, I realize these paddle shifters are even more of a gimmick in something that doesn’t technically have gears but I covered 350km and left the car to do all the ‘shift’ work. The experience was sublime. And as for that other 50km, that was incredibly winding sinew of the best driving asphalt in the land and for this, I wanted the chance to rev at my own abandon. It’s like this. Not since the 4AGE-powered Toyota Corolla Sprinter (AE82) of the late 1980’s have I even considered owning a Corolla Sedan. Until this car came along. I like it very much.
Model Line-up and Pricing for SA:
Corolla 1.8 XS CVT – R 380 200
Corolla 2.0 XR 6MT – R 420 500
Corolla 2.0 XR CVT – R 433 700