Ian Lamming celebrates the virtues of the only worthwhile technology today as featured in Toyota’s latest Corolla estate.
WOW! I’m reeling from another epiphany. I like a good epiphany. I have seen the light, the future of automotive technology, in its most realistic form and this is why.
Three cars, back to back, have shown in crystal clarity where the motoring world must go, at least in the immediate future, until combustive technology has had a break through, the step change it needs to save the world.
At the moment there is a 2.0 diesel in the drive and there’s nothing wrong with that except it only returns 44mpg, the world hates diesels and so do governments and the green lobby. Manufacturers, give it up!
Two weeks ago, plugged into the mains was the rose-tinted future, an electric vehicle. It too was a perfectly acceptable drive except the world is not yet ready for such a vehicle. The battery simply offers insufficient range, it takes too long to recharge and there isn’t the infrastructure to cope with more than a handful at a time. It’s also too expensive. Manufacturers, give it up until you have invented the technology needed to avoid carbon-based fuels.
Right smack in the middle is the only answer, a hybrid, and Toyota offers the finest range you can hope to find.
On this occasion it’s a Corolla Touring Sports which, in translation, is an estate car. After suffering the EV, it brings unparalleled levels of relief and compared to the diesel incomparable degrees of refinement.
This 2.0 litre petrol easily manages 54mpg – yes, 10mpg more than the more expensive diesel – and that’s without trying.
Range is in excess of 400 miles, smashing the claimed 239 of the EV, because the petrol and electric motors work in tandem. And because it is self-charging, there’s never the need to stumble around in the dark and the rain finding somewhere to plug it in.
In an out and out sprint it trashes the diesel but loses out to the 200+PS EV, but only for about a 100m after which the full-electric would run out of charge.
None of this comes as any surprise to the designers of Corolla as Toyota has been banging on about hybrids for at least 25 years, not to mention developing and honing the technology to exacting levels.
Guess what? They really have got it down to an art and the Corolla is a brilliant example of the genre.
Designers have also taken a close look at what works and what doesn’t. As the rest of the world is distracted from its driving by swipe and pinch touchscreens, myriad menus and ridiculous levels of operation, Corolla leaves knobs and switches to tackle the common functions and consigns dabbing and swiping to the secondary roles.
A very modern interior is incredibly comfortable and generously equipped. It’s all so logical, so easy to use, it takes the stress out of driving and makes long journeys an absolute pleasure.
Like its hatchback sibling, Corolla estate is a beauty; long, low-slung, sleek, ultra-modern and, in black, mean and menacing. The estate rear end offers really useful storage capacity and increased practicality.
Performance is excellent, power is instantly available thanks to the electric motor and an awesome CVT gearbox. Round town it switches imperceptibly to electric so overall economy is amazing. New targets have been set in emissions with heavy penalties for anything over 95g/km of CO2. Corolla coughs up a mere 89g/km, so no worries there to your pocket or the ozone.
Cleverness abounds with cameras and sensors keeping you safe from harm. Shame some ne’er-do-well in a silver Ford hit and ran, damaging the wing mirror. But then it was parked with the ignition off on a wide section of road where no manner of gizmos could account for his bad driving. Sorry Toyota!
So stop agonising, stop dithering, stop procrastinating. At the moment there is only one viable technology and that’s a petrol hybrid – and Toyota is way ahead of the competition.
Toyota Corolla Touring Sports Hybrid Design
Engine: 2.0 petrol plus electric
Top speed: 112mph
CO2 g/km: 89