It’s become a motoring cliché, but here’s a new car and you’d be hard pressed to tell it’s new. It’s not that the design of the latest generation Toyota Corolla is different – it is – but the Corolla is such a ubiquitous car that I lost the bog standard entry level car tested here in a carpark.
But don’t let that put you off the new car. It does have distinctive styling, but in the details rather than general shape, and the plastic wheel trims on the etry level car don’t help.
What does help when evaluating a new car is to drive the least expensive one in the line-up. This shows the basic promise of the entire design. If the entry level car is crap, then it’s likely that the more expensive ones will be as well.
So it’s good news, I suppose, that the $33,490 Corolla GX slipped in and out of my family life without making much of a ripple. It merely does everything you ask of a general transport device and demands little of you. The controls are simple to operate and easy to reach, the driver’s seat comfortable and the gearshift on the six-speed manual gearbox smooth and user friendly. The 1.8 lltre engine produces 103kW in a run of the mill way, although you can coax some performance out of the car if you really try.
The rest of the car? I forget. The Corolla has been shaped by user needs to the point where it has long been overlooked by those looking for an involved drive or particularly distinctive car. It’s less of a car and more of a generic consumer device, the iPod of cars if you will.
That’s not such a bad thing though, as many people do just want a generic car and will go through life endlessly trading in their old Corolla for the next generation Corolla. Artificially inflated pricing aside (definitely try haggling with your Toyota dealer), almost the entire Toyota range specialises in generic transport, be it small cars (Yaris) or large four-wheel-drives (Hilux). There are other brands with better and more exciting vehicles, but take one look at Toyota’s sales numbers and you soon realise that motoring enthusiasts are the minority in New Zealand.
And that’s why, despite almost everything about it being bland and ultimately forgettable, the Toyota Corolla is a good car.