Let’s take no precedent that Japan’s largest automaker has gone through a personality change lately. And its a clear cut story with the all-new 2014 Toyota Corolla Altis. Whilst looks will only get you so far; we wondered what the Corolla Altis has to offer up its sleeve in the C-segment market and most importantly; what is it like to drive.
Toyota takes pride in their all-new design and we absolutely second it. The previous generation was undoubtedly hard-featured and ill-favoured by the new generation market, especially when it was up against it’s main competitor, the more sporty and handsome looking Honda Civic.
Learning from their ineffective endeavour, the all-new third generation Corolla Altis will pave its way through the C-segment market with the updated, and more sporty design.
We love the way it looks. Let’s just admit to the fact that it is rather up our stream, and that there are more expensive cars from more premium brands that doesn’t look half as good as the new Corolla Altis does.
The frontal ‘keen-look’ design is rather aggressive as compared to previous generations, followed by a more low-slung roof line gives it the sportiness that the Corolla Altis never had. But the question is, is it ‘Sporty’?
Toyota offers 2 different engines on the Corolla Altis. A 1.8-litre with 139ps on taps and what we had for our test drive, the top-of-the-range 2.0-litre Dual VVT-i 4 cylinder which churns out 145ps and 187nm at its disposal. Power is thrown out to the front wheels via a 7-speed CVT transmission (sadly..) with sports sequential, similar to those fitted on other engines alongside. The 2.0G however comes with paddle shifters which is meant to assist during sporty driving.
A plus point for the Corolla Altis is its CVT gearbox. We generally detest against these gearboxes, and with more and more manufacturers fitting their new cars with CVT recently, we have yet to find one that works significantly well.. until now. Lets just start on the note that it still isn’t as great as a conventional gearbox, however Toyota’s CVT system fitted on the Corolla Altis is pretty responsive on the move with fast downshifts which we approve of.
In all honesty, the paddle shifters are the cause of the way the car responses on the move, however we wonder how the standard 2.0E and 1.8E will perform without it.
As a daily driver – the Corolla Altis drives majestically, especially with its efficient engine we managed to return over 500km on a tank (mixed driving styles), and its practicality can’t be denied. However whilst the new looks are in chase of a more ‘Sporty’ styling, the car is far off from being any where near ‘Sporty’.
Driving it on a more demanding road, where you find more curves and hairpins unravels that the new Corolla Altis doesn’t really offer a sporty drive. On one hand, the steering feels quite heavy giving the driver very little input in return and theres quite a lot of body roll.
No, don’t get me wrong.. I know that its not a sports car but whilst the Altis can offer excellent day-to-day driving, if you reckon you’d like to do a little bit of fun from time to time, perhaps you should look somewhere else. Personally, I felt a little disconnected on the drive and a little unsure about the way the car behaves on the limit.
The drive aside – the new Corolla Altis does come with a decent interior, one where you can enjoy a spot of long distance drive without getting bored. Its a combination of plastics that looks like fake carbon fibre or leather which I must admit, somehow blends in very well. It looks and feels like a quality item, regardless of what it is made off.
At the same time, you get quite a banging sound system courtesy of 8 speakers all round + a sweet little infotainment system that does more than just play music. An integrated satnav system comes as standard on the 2.0G along with a very useful reverse camera that eases some convenience to your daily routine.
A round of applause to Toyota for coming up with the new Corolla Altis. They have up’ed the ante in the segment for the competitors with excellent looks and quality. It is a little pricey but you get what you paid for we believe. This baffles the question though, how about the new Mazda 3?
Words & Photos; Qhalis Najmi