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

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.

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

This smaller engine 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.

Added performance with larger 2.0-litre

While the smaller, carryover engine will appease lower-powered diesel and petrol converts, the new 2.0-litre unit is going after those used to a 2.0-litre diesel with more pulling power. Toyota is keen to point out how 0-62mph takes 7.9 seconds, thanks to the 180hp available and 190Nm of torque.

It’s also crucially much quicker from 50-70mph than the old Auris, which felt particularly tiresome at this speed. The new car isn’t going to set any hot laps on a track day, but you notice the performance gains higher up in the rev range. 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.

Toyota asked its customers what they wanted from the new car and unsurprisingly were told to make the engine more responsive and to tune the CVT transmission to avoid it revving so hard (called ‘rubber-banding’) when accelerating.

The old car was quiet and relaxing so long as you conformed to the way it wanted to be driven – progressively and with very little throttle input. Try to accelerate quickly and you’d get a lot of noise and not much else.

Improved mid-range performance with 2.0-litre engine

To an extent that’s still true in the Corolla, except there’s better mid-range performance and a little less noise when you really floor it. That’s in part due to a smaller and lighter battery that can be recharged faster thanks to better energy recuperation, so it can assist the petrol engine more readily and avoid those noisy jumps to maximum revs we lamented so much in the Auris.

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.

The electronically controlled brake pedal offers little-to-no feel and is a bit tricky to modulate if you’re used to driving a non-hybrid car. These are nitpicky points, though, and most drivers will get used to this after a short period of time.

Engines no longer available

Serving as the entry-level engine until 2020 was a turbocharged 1.2-litre petrol unit, developing 116hp and 185Nm. This may have been the cheapest way into a Corolla but this was also quicker than the 1.8-litre hybrid, with 0-62mph taking 9.3 seconds. Top speed is also higher than both hybrids at 124mph. This is the only engine fitted with a manual gearbox with six speeds available. While this engine is also carried over from the Auris, the rev limit has been raised to 6,200rpm to improve acceleration.


  • 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.

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, despite being much improved over the Auris it replaces.

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.