The previous hybrid drives in the Toyota Corolla often got good marks in tests. With the facelift of their compact, the Japanese have now done a good job again. The result is an economical, mature hybrid. However, it offers too little space for its size and the navigation system is not entirely convincing.

Toyota is considered the inventor of the hybrid drive, millions of Prius worldwide bear witness to this. It is therefore only logical that the facelifted Corolla, which starts at the end of March with prices starting at 33,340 euros, will continue to be offered exclusively with two full hybrids – as a five-door model and as a station wagon. Because the fifth drive generation is now used, future Corolla pilots can expect a bit more power and torque with largely the same consumption. And a more confident appearance.

The dynamic and acoustic improvements of the optically only slightly modified Corolla that Toyota complained about result from massive interventions in the drive system. The engineers left practically no part untouched. Electric and combustion engine, power control unit (PCU) and the gearbox have been revised; the battery under the rear seats is up to 18 kilos lighter and still 14 percent more powerful and there is a new, double-sided cooling system.

The 1.8-liter drive now delivers 103 kW/140 hp, an increase of 15 percent. It propels the Corolla to 100 km/h in 9.2 seconds and, like its bigger brother, makes it 180 km/h fast. With the two-liter hybrid, the system output has increased by eight percent to 144 kW/196 hp, which enables the 100 km/h sprint in 7.5 seconds. That’s almost half a second less than before.

During the first test drives with the 1.8 liter version, the progress was clearly visible. The expressions of life of the drive when the accelerator pedal is pressed down are still not a highlight for friends of a sonorous engine sound. But the nerve factor has been significantly reduced. Even with 3500 to 4500 tours, it remains much quieter inside.

And that’s not all: Because the new Corolla has become smarter and, by diligently collecting data while driving, it remembers places where people usually brake, it can give the driver tips on how to save fuel and electricity via the information display. In addition, the system includes the topography or traffic jams in the efficiency planning for routes planned by navigation system.

Toyota has given the interior new graphics, panels and upholstery as part of the facelift, the trunk has grown slightly, the passenger space is still a bit tight. The hardware of the new multimedia system consists of a 10.5-inch touchscreen and a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster. As standard, the Corolla offers cloud-based navigation with real-time information, wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto and a voice assistant, which proved to be not quite as intelligent as hoped when driving around Malaga.

The “Smart Service” package, which contains an app for various control functions and the hybrid trainer, which knows how to use the drive system most efficiently, is paid for four years with the car purchase. And of course the compact can also handle over-the-air updates. The operation is quite easy, Toyota has not followed the button-and-button reduction mania of other manufacturers.

The Corolla has also grown in terms of assistance systems, with ample standard equipment such as a front collision warning system, adaptive cruise control system, intersection or emergency stop assistant, a blind spot warning system and the reversing assistant with automatic braking function can also be purchased. Matrix LED lights are also available as an option.

And how does the whole package feel when driving? Quite convincing once you have understood and accepted the full hybrid functional principle. Acceleration orgies are just not his thing. The Corolla is still recognizable as a reason-oriented vehicle that delivers the best combination of effortless locomotion and economy with a gentle foot on the accelerator. It makes it relatively easy for the pilot to achieve the specified standard consumption of around 5 liters per 100 kilometers – at least in areas with a limited speed.

In city traffic, the drive encourages people to drive purely electrically as often as possible. With a bit of practice and careful actuation of the right pedal, this can also be done from traffic light to traffic light. After our test drive, the on-board computer showed a consumption of 5.7 liters, without us having particularly spared the Corolla. And the timer for the proportion of driving or standing time (e.g. at traffic lights) with the combustion engine switched off showed a respectable 33 percent.

More than its predecessor, the revised Corolla is not only suitable for the city or for leisurely strolls. He’s also more fun on the country road, the more powerful version logically a bit more than the 1.8 liter. The chassis is comfortable, but not too soft.

Regarding the prices: At the start of delivery at the end of March 2023, Toyota requires at least 33,340 euros for the Corolla five-door, the Touring Sports costs 1,200 euros more. In contrast to the five-door model, the station wagon is already available in the second equipment version, the Business Edition, with the two-liter hybrid (from 37,100 euros). The most expensive model on the price list is the station wagon in the lounge version with the more powerful drive for 42,440 euros.

Toyota Corolla Hybrid 1.8 – specifications

Toyota Corolla Hybrid 2.0 Touring Sports – specifications