For 26 years the Toyota Corolla has been NZ’s most popular car, so I jumped into the new Corolla Levin SX facelift to see if I could find out why.
Facially I think it’s got ‘Cheshire cat grin’ look about it; accentuated somewhat by a black hexagon lower centre grille and pitch black surround. Angled lights and air spats gives the car an athletic slant while the shark fin on the roof and the rear privacy glass both reinforces this statement plus adds a bit of mystique. Round back, the rear bumper has a lower centre diffuser and body coloured rear under spoiler.
Auto Keyless entry gains you access to a surprisingly well-appointed interior. Soft padded ornament panels with leather-like grain texture and silver metal style accents on audio surrounds, air registers and gear lever. But it’s the stitching that really grabs you.
There’s white stitching on the leather steering wheel and handbrake (Plus black in the centre of the wheel around the horn) and then orange everywhere else including door trim and back seats. It’s like a seamstress has run amok throughout the car but then suddenly stopped on the car’s passenger side. All the padding and stitched comfort that the driver enjoys looks to be almost forgotten on the other side of the centre console but they do gain access to a huge glove compartment so it’s not all bad!
The Infotainment touch screen is large 7” and clear but seems to flow away from the driver inviting everyone to have a play. It has a truly great reversing camera incredibly clear but oddly I could hear any parking sensors. Eco-mode on the screen offers up some great graphs so you can plot how much your driving is saving the planet. The Stereo is ok but could go a little louder, I must be getting slightly deaf. The automatic dual zone climate control has Satin-chrome plated ornamentation and even has a pollen ﬁlter.
Under the boot floor is a sectioned storage compartment, it was great for separating the loose groceries I grabbed at the yellow barn and was too tight to buy a carrier bag for – normally they would just roam free in the boot getting up to mischief.
Under the bonnet is a 1.8L 16v DOHC engine that gives the front wheel drive 173Nm of torque and a combined fuel economy of 6.1L/100k. The 7 step Continuously Variable Transmission that incorporates speed ratio control logic however to me; the resulting experience is that in Drive it seems to slip as it gathers speed (it doesn’t but just seems that way). But in Sport the speed is delivered a lot more precisely and certainly my preference.
Another, I guess rather bizarre observation; is that the Automatic lights come on very quickly – flashing on as you wiz under the skinniest of motorway bridges – not a bad thing at all, just very noticeable.
Summing it all up, what you have is good all round car, It has plenty of tech and zip to keep any household happy, a lot of car for the money – easy to see why it’s a kiwi favorite.
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