Parkers overall rating: 3.6 out of 5 3.6
  • A choice of two hybrid engines
  • Only available with an automatic gearbox
  • 1.8-litre is adequate for most buyers

What engine options are there?

The Toyota Corolla comes with a choice of two petrol engines: a 1.8-litre and 2.0-litre, both of which are mated to a hybrid powertrain. This is not a plug-in hybrid system, though, so it obtains all of its energy from the fuel in the tank.

Toyota Corolla 2019 hybrid engine

All version of the Corolla use an automatic gearbox and front-wheel drive.

Hybrid engines

Engine Power and torque
0-62mph time
Top speed
1.8 petrol hybrid auto
122hp, 142Nm
10.9secs
112mph
2.0 petrol hybrid auto
184hp, 190Nm 7.9secs
112mph

The entry-level engine is a 1.8-litre producing 122hp and 142Nm of torque.

This is offered as an alternative to diesel engines of similar capacity found in the Corolla's rivals, attempting to deliver a similar level of performance but with added refinement. While 0-62mph takes 10.9 seconds, the lack of torque you’d otherwise find in a diesel means you have to work this engine hard to generate momentum, especially at lower speeds.

The 2.0-litre unit is going after those used to a 2.0-litre diesel with more pulling power. Toyota says that 0-62mph takes 7.9 seconds, thanks to the 180hp available and 190Nm of torque. It does feel notably quicker than the 1.8 and it's also quieter in general, with less need for high revs to make good progress.

It isn’t going to set any hot laps on a track day, but you notice the performance higher up in the rev range if you need it. Overtaking is far more effortless, but due to the automatic gearbox’s nature, you still need to plan and build up momentum prior to any manoeuvres.

The CVT transmission feels more responsive in the 2.0-litre model, too, with less of that old 'rubber-band' feel where there's a disconnect between how far you're pushing the accelerator pedal down and the noise the engine is making.

Toyota Corolla 2019 drive mode

Gearshift paddles on the steering wheel are standard in the 2.0-litre car and help keep the engine cooking when you’re pushing on - left to its own devices the revs will drop and leave you bogged-down when trying to accelerate out of corners. Factor in a Sport drive mode and this keeps the 2.0-litre engine at its most responsive, but don’t expect any quick downshifts when you suddenly need a burst of acceleration.

There's a 'B' driving mode also, which increases the amount of energy recovered while decelerating.

Toyota Corolla 2019 Sport mode dials

Unfortunately, as the brake system balances that energy regeneration with regular hydraulic operation of the brakes, it means the brake pedal offers little-to-no feel and is a bit tricky to modulate if you’re used to driving a non-hybrid car. Most drivers will get used to this after a short period of time.

How does it handle?

  • Body roll well contained
  • Not the sharpest of hatchbacks to drive
  • Strong brakes

The relaxed nature of the hybrid engines also translate into the way the Corolla handles. Yes, it comes as no surprise that this hatchback is more fun than the taller and bigger-bodied C-HR it is based on, but the Corolla still lags behind other hatchbacks in the sector for sheer driving enjoyment.

Toyota Corolla Hybrid, handling rear 2019

That’s not to say the Corolla will fall over when navigating through a series of bends. It’s extremely easy to drive and remains composed, but the front will struggle for grip far sooner than the best driving hatchbacks in this sector. This remains a comfort-biased driving experience.

The combination of the light steering and pedals, along with the CVT automatic, makes for an uninvolving drive.

A sophisticated rear double wishbone setup is standard on all models – unlike the traditional driver’s choice Ford Focus and more expensive cars like the Mercedes-Benz A-Class – and helps the Corolla remain composed over mid-corner bumps and helps with high-speed comfort. The brakes are strong, too, even if the pedal response can be a little difficult to modulate at low speeds.