Parkers overall rating: 3.6 out of 5 3.6
  • Spacious cabin with a hint of C-HR in its design
  • Well built and comfortable but high seating position
  • Optional JBL stereo limited to 2.0-litre engine though

Climb inside the Corolla and it doesn’t take long to notice the vast improvement over the previous Auris. Not only is the design far cleaner than before, but in its place sits a simple touchscreen and climate control arrangement. It’s also much more modern in terms of the digital dashboard display and the lack of Toyota’s trademark anachronistic LCD clock – overall think C-HR but a bit less colourful and futuristic.

What’s more, everything is softer to touch and more sculpted to look at – where the Auris’s door cards were made of slabs of hard plastic, the new car feels much plusher.

The information fed on the 7.0-inch driver’s instrument panel screen is not the easiest to read and the sat-nav is far from the most user-friendly. Plus, the use of small buttons and icons on the dash are difficult to identify, especially when on the move.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are now standard on all models. But if you buy a pre-2020 car it most likely won't have either. There's wireless charging for your phone available and the optional JBL stereo is clear and punchy - even if it’s only limited to 2.0-litre models. The heated seat buttons are slightly hidden away though, and the option to have brighter materials in the cabin is limited to the saloon bodystyle.

Comfort

  • Tuned for European roads
  • Good ride quality and noise suppression
  • Avoid Excel models with 18-inch wheels for best comfort

The cabin in the Corolla is spacious and comfortable for those up front, with seats that come with heating and adjustable lumbar support – they're especially supportive when fitted with the sportier items found on Excel and GR Sport models. It’s easy to find a comfortable driving position before you set off and the view out front is good, although some may find they sit a little high compared with rivals.

Those sat on the rear seats may start to grumble on longer journeys though. Leg and kneeroom is limited compared with rivals and the broad front seats on Excel and GR Sport models can block much of the view out ahead. Factor in the small rear windows and black  headlining on these top two models as well, and rear passengers will soon feel claustrophobic. The Mazda 3 suffers from similar issues, but the Ford Focus continues to be much more generous in terms of space and light.

Once on the move, the Toyota Corolla produces a smooth ride that soaks up the worst of our road surfaces, managing to avoid sending thumps into the cabin - unlike previous hybrid models. When the hybrid software engages electric mode especially, the absence of engine noise in town environments makes it a serene place to spend time in.

Another benefit of the sophisticated rear double wishbone setup is the added refinement at motorway speeds. The rear of the car feels planted over bumps, unlike certain versions of the Ford Focus and Mercedes-Benz A-Class, while adaptive suspension is also available.

It’s not perfect though. The familiar engine drone during acceleration is still here and there is a degree of vibration sent through to the front seats when cruising at a constant speed. Luckily, the hybrid system switches between engine and electric mode regularly enough for you to not really notice, unless you remain on smooth road surfaces.

The larger 18-inch wheels on Excel and GR Sport models generate more road noise too so it may be best to avoid these, even if they don’t have a detrimental effect on ride quality.