Crucial C-segment saloon goes into its 11th generation with a bigger and more comfortable cabin
So which one are we getting?
The Toyota Corolla you see here in official pictures is the 11th generation model that was revealed in Europe last week, just days after it was unveiled in the US with a slightly different exterior design.
Thais and Americans like fancy saloons, explaining why many cars like the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord have the same look for both markets.
However, it is slightly different in the case of the Corolla. Today's 10th generation model sold in Thailand is the same as the one in Europe, which is most likely to be the case again for the 11th gen variant.
Thais and other Asian nations generally like their cars to be a little opulent in appearance, and the Euro-spec Corolla's use of chromium _ and LED lights for the first time _ on the front end helps play to that effect.
As for the Japanese variant that was launched in May last year, it can easily be forgotten because it just doesn't seem to be attractive enough to be sold outside of Japan.
Very true. How different are they elsewhere?
Fascia has been thoroughly revamped.
This is where it stops. The US and European models have basically the same interior, where there are a completely redesigned fascia, bigger seats, more space and better external noise suppression claimed by its maker.
Technicalities beneath them are also identical: overall length now measures 4,639mm (+99mm), width 1,776mm (+16mm) and wheelbase 2,700mm (+100mm). The last aspect, in particular, helps for the bigger cabin.
As with most other new cars these days, the height of 1,455mm represents a 10mm drop in the interest of a more dynamic appearance (and often for much better aerodynamics).
The suspension principle remains the same but with reworked positions and geometry: struts up front and a traditional torsion beam at the rear.
No weight-saving measures have been announced by Toyota, although at 1,290kg today's range-topping Corolla in Thailand can't really be considered overweight for a car in its class.
What about the engines?
Since Japan, Europe and the US have more stringent CO2 emission standards than any other country in the world, they usually get more advanced engines than we Thais do.
Basically, the engine sizes (see sidebar) are the same globally but are tweaked with new technologies like the so-called Valvematic that is claimed to help cut fuel consumption by 5%.
Since the engine range of today's Thai-spec Corolla has just been upgraded with dual VVTi during its mid-life facelift two years ago, people at Toyota Motor Thailand believe it is still relevant enough for class standards in terms of performance and economy.
As well, Euro 4 has only been enforced in Thailand this year, meaning that the all-new Corolla _ confirmed to come later this year _ would get carried-over engines.
The same goes for the gearbox: CVT automatic with seven-speed manual model for the 2.0 and 1.8 and a conventional four-speed automatic for the 1.6 (and its CNG-capable derivative).
Will there be a hybrid option?
Ever since the Camry became the first Toyota in Thailand to go hybrid, the Thai office has been contemplating a petrol-electric option of the Corolla.
It still has yet to materialise, but it isn't a complex task because the Corolla's hatchback cousin _ known as Auris in Europe _ has got a hybrid drivetrain.
Toyota just needs to be sure that it won't mind seeing potential buyers of the Prius fleeing to a would-be Corolla Hybrid.
Despite players like Mazda and Ford enjoying sales with their 3 and Focus hatchbacks, Toyota still finds it far easier to sell saloons in Thailand.
KNOWING THE COROLLA'S ENGINE RANGE
The range-topping engine in today's Corolla in Thailand is known as the 3ZR-FE featuring double variable camshaft timing (VVTi) on both the intake and exhaust cams.
In Japan and Europe, it has been upgraded with the addition of Valvematic _ a new valve control system to boost both power and efficiency at the same time _ and renamed 3ZR-FAE. It produces 158hp, around 15hp higher than the 3ZR-FE.
The entry-level Camry in Thailand uses neither engine. Instead, it employs a more dated 2.0 engine called 1AZ-FE with single VVTi (just for intake camshaft) and makes 148hp.
Like the 2.0, today's 1.8 has double VVTi technology and is dubbed the 2ZR-FE. Likewise, the developed parts of the world are a step ahead with the Valvematic-equipped 1.8 billed 2ZR-FAE increasing power by around 10hp to 150hp.
The Thai-spec 1.8 that can take gasohol with ethanol content of up to 85% (E85) is distinguished as the 2ZR-FBE. It has special components to cope with the corrosive nature of ethanol.
In the Prius (and Lexus CT200h), the 1.8 is known as the 2ZR-FXE and generates 99hp. Although the basic engine block is the same as the 2ZR-FE, it has bespoke modifications _ like a higher compression ratio, for one _ to suit its combination with electric power.
Like the 2.0 and 1.8, the 1.6 has double VVTi and is designated 1ZR-FE. Again, eco-conscious markets get the newer 1ZR-FAE with Valvematic to bump power up from 124hp to 132hp.
The 1.6 that has been adapted to run additionally on compressed natural gas (CNG) in Thailand is based on an older unit coded 3ZZ-FE developing 109hp.
About the author
- Writer: Richard Leu
Position: Motoring news Editor