Cape Town - It’s a Toyota Corolla Jim, but not as we know it.

It’s tongue in cheek of course, but there are those in certain circles who wonder why anyone would walk into a showroom, cast an eye over it and ask if it’s available in white or silver.

It’s also sometimes referred to as an appliance, again white or silver, functional, safe and does the job required of transportation, not to forget its great resale value.

Not so much anymore though with the introduction of the Toyota Corolla hatch that takes over the badge of the Auris, and in fact it is actually quite funky. There's also a sedan version on the way to replace the locally-built, current-generation four-door, but that's unlikely to hit our shores before 2020.

‘Corolla’ is an incredible success in South Africa and I doubt whether there are many people who haven’t either owned, driven or been a passenger in one.

This new hatch is set to build on that success and comes in three flavours; the 1.2 Xs 6MT, 1.2T Xs CVT and 1.2T Xr CVT.

Toyota have now also joined the ranks of small turbo powered cars with all models powered by a four-cylinder 1.2 litre turbo petrol engine that gives you 85kW and 185Nm. The Xs 6MT is coupled to a six speed manual transmission while the two remaining models are driven by a 10 speed continuously variable transmission.

Yes, the ubiquitous CVT which it must be said in its defence in this instance actually works incredibly well on the Corolla Hatch.

We found no lag and even when passing slower traffic at last week’s launch in and around Cape Town, the whining sound and quick pick up of revs and slow moving of the speedometer were noticeably absent.

The true test however will be up at Gauteng altitudes. Kudos though to the engineers for having got this one feeling right.

They have also managed to get the looks right, and with the addition of three new colours in Scarlet Metallic Red, Oxide Bronze and Caribbean Blue, the appliance moniker doesn’t really apply anymore.

Built on Toyota’s New Global Architecture chassis it’s longer, lower and sleeker than its Auris predecessor.

The front is dominated by a new mesh design grill coupled to an all-LED lamp cluster with daytime running lights beneath the bonnet and upper grill.

The back has an aggressive curve about it accentuating its width while the LED light clusters are located at the end of the corners while all versions feature a roof spoiler and shark fin antenna.

Inside it’s a whole new look as well and the first thing that strikes you are the soft-touch surfaces and touchscreen infotainment system that give it an upmarket feel, not to mention thoroughly modern. They’ve changed the instrument panel to be slimmer to improve visibility and although it won’t be mistaken for a hot hatch the interior has a definite sporty quality including the seats in the Xr model that have Alcantara covered front sport seats with brushed aluminium just below the headrest.

Also new is a multi-link rear suspension that’s improved ride quality and road-holding as well as a new shock absorber valve design. The improvements are quite noticeable particularly around sharp corners as experienced driving along Bainskloof pass on the way back to Cape Town.

Steering feedback was positive but to be fair, the average buyer won’t be too hassled about that neither about the claimed 9.5 seconds for 0-100km/h for the manual and 10.4 for the CVT shod car, or top a speed of 200km/h.

Fuel consumption averaged out at 7.1L/100km slightly above the claimed 6.1.

Seven airbags, stability control, ABS, EBD, brake assist and hill assist control are standard safety features should things become a bit hairy.

With the changes and new style South Africa’s love affair with the Corolla will no doubt continue and in this guise it’s easy to see why. It comes with a six-service/90 000km service plan and a three year/100 000km warranty.

PRICES

1.2T Xs 6MT - R 336 800

1.2T Xs CVT - R 347 400

1.2T Xr CVT - R 367 100

Drive360