TOYOTA’S super-popular Corolla hatch will gain a substantial boost to performance and economy when it arrives in August with a choice of  petrol or hybrid power and manual or CVT gearing.

The new generation hatch also has a more athletic look, improved handling and ride comfort, better front-to-rear weight balance, with a 60 per cent increase in body rigidity.

A new 125kW/200Nm 2.0-litre naturally-aspirated petrol engine takes over from the long-serving 1.8 unit, with respective increases of 21 and 15.6 per cent.

The hybrid system is said to be an improved version of the 1.8-litre Atkinson Cycle powertrain from the Prius, and Toyota claims the new Corolla will rival the Prius’s fuel economy.

Both powertrains will be offered with a new continuously-variable transmission (CVT) with 10 programed steps, plus a sport mode and paddle shifters.

The CVT will also have a launch gear, which Toyota says will give it powerful and predictable acceleration.

The alternative six-speed intelligent manual will be available with rev-matching on downshifts. It’s smaller and lighter, also contributing to fuel efficiency.

The car will come with a load of driver aids, among them autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, Lane Tracing Assist, Road Sign Assist, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning with assist, auto high-beam, seven airbags and a reversing camera.

Grade-dependent equipment includes 18-inch alloy wheels, 8.0-inch satellite navigation screen, dual-zone aircon, an 8-speaker JBL sound system, keyless smart entry and start, 7.0-inch colour multi-information display, colour head-up display and wireless phone charger.

“Corolla will remain very competitive and affordable in the Australian market,”  Toyota Australia vice president Sean Hanley said.

“We expect it to continue as Australia’s best-selling car, a position it has held for each of the past five years.”

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Bill Buys, probably Australia’s longest-serving motoring writer, has been at his craft for more than five decades. Athough motoring has always been in his DNA, he was also night crime reporter, foreign page editor and later chief reporter of the famed Rand Daily Mail. He’s twice been shot at, attacked by a rhinoceros and had several chilling experiences in aircraft. His experience includes stints in traffic law enforcement, motor racing and rallying and writing for a variety of local and international publications. He has covered countless events, ranging from world motor shows and Formula 1 Grands Prix to Targa tarmac and round-the-houses meetings. A motoring tragic, he has owned more than 90 cars. Somewhat of a nostalgic, he has a special interest in classic cars. He is the father of Targa star Robert Buys, who often adds his expertise to Bill’s reviews.
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