New Toyota Corolla pricing vs rivals: These are the 5 cars it must beat

By Jason Woosey Time of article published Mar 26, 2020

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Johannesburg - Toyota was meant to launch its 12th-generation Corolla sedan in South Africa this week, but given the Covid-19 crisis the company has opted introduce it to us digitally.

Since we won’t get to experience the Corolla for the time being, we decided to take a closer look at the new sedan and how it compares, price and value wise, to its rivals.

First a quick glance at what it’s all about. 

For starters, the Corolla sports a far more daring design than any of its predecessors, but the changes are not just skin deep - the 12th-gen four-door is built on an entirely new platform, this being the TNGA architecture that also underpins the latest Rav4.

The redesigned Corolla is more rewarding to drive than ever, something we can attest to having driven the hatch version, and much of this comes down to its lower centre of gravity, 60-percent-better body rigidity and a sophisticated new double-wishbone rear suspension system.

Unfortunately, unlike its hatch sibling the Corolla sedan has not thrust itself into the turbo age, but it does get a more sophisticated flagship engine in the form of Toyota’s redesigned 2-litre ‘Dynamic Force’ TNGA normally aspirated engine with direct injection. As first introduced in the Rav4, the 2-litre motor produces 125kW and 200Nm, and can be paired with either a six-speed manual or ‘10-step’ CVT gearbox. The other engine option is a 1.8-litre carry-over unit that’s good for 103kW and 171Nm, and mated to a ‘seven-step’ CVT.

On the spec front, the new Corolla is lavishly equipped across the board. Even the 1.8 XS base model has a bloated spec sheet, boasting 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic climate control, new bucket-style seats with leather upholstery, cruise control, multi-function steering wheel and a touchscreen infotainment system with reverse camera and Android Auto / CarPlay connectivity. 

The 2.0 XR gains 18-inch wheels, adaptive cruise control, electrochromatic rearview mirror, Blind Spot Monitor, Lane Departure Alert and the brake-synchronised Pre-Crash system. 

But how does its pricing compare with the opposition?

The table below shows where it fits in, versus its closest rivals, and although the new Corolla range tops out at R425 200, we stretched the comparison to the R500 000 mark to give you a bigger picture of what’s out there, while also including the much cheaper Corolla Quest at the lower end to give more perspective.

What struck us about this comparison is just how few rivals the Corolla actually has these days. A decade ago you wouldn’t have counted them on two hands but today there are just five model ranges that qualify as Corolla competitors. Nameplates like Cruze, Focus, Jetta and Cerato have disappeared from the local scene as buyers stampede towards SUVs and double cabs.

New Toyota Corolla: Pricing versus rivals

Toyota Corolla Quest 1.8 manual103kW/173NmR249 900Toyota Corolla Quest 1.8 CVT103kW/173NmR270 400Toyota Corolla Quest 1.8 Prestige manual103kW/173NmR286 500Toyota Corolla Quest 1.8 Prestige CVT103kW/173NmR296 800Toyota Corolla Quest 1.8 Exclusive manual103kW/173NmR307 400Toyota Corolla Quest 1.8 Exclusive CVT103kW/173NmR317 700Mazda3 sedan 1.5 Active manual88kW/153NmR357 000Mazda3 sedan 1.5 Dynamic manual88kW/153NmR371 300Toyota Corolla (NEW) 1.8 XS CVT

103kW/171Nm

R372 700

Mazda3 sedan 1.5 Dynamic auto88kW/153NmR384 100Subaru Impreza 2.0i CVT115kW/196NmR392 000Toyota Corolla (NEW) 2.0 XR manual

125kW/200Nm

R412 300

Honda Civic 1.8 Elegance CVT104kW/174NmR416 700Mazda3 1.5 Individual manual88kW/153NmR418 800Mazda3 1.5 Individual auto88kW/153NmR431 600Toyota Corolla (NEW) 2.0 XR CVT

125kW/200Nm

R425 200

Subaru Impreza 2.0i S-ES CVT115kW/196NmR450 000Audi A3 Sedan 30 TFSI DSG85kW/200NmR464 410Mazda3 2.0 Astina auto121kW/213NmR470 800Honda Civic 1.5T Sport CVT127kW/220NmR484 200

Let’s take a closer look at the cars it has to beat

Toyota Corolla Quest

The new Corolla’s biggest threat comes from within its own family. Although Toyota is aiming the two at completely different audiences, with the new Corolla pitched at more image conscious and tech savvy consumers who want the latest and the best, the value-driven Quest is sure to be the better seller, thanks to its 120 grand lower starting price.

Now based on the outgoing 11th-generation Corolla, the new Quest is more stylish than its predecessor, while also upgrading to a 103kW 1.8-litre engine. It’s somewhat more luxurious too, particularly if you opt for the new flagship model.

That said, you don’t get all the tech that new Corolla offers, such as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity as well as those aforementioned driver assistance gadgets.

But if you’re looking for an honest, agreeable and comfortable sedan at the best possible price, there is no beating the Corolla Quest.

Mazda3

Like the new Corolla, the Mazda3 makes a far bolder statement than its forebear, although the sedan is notably more conservative than the hatch model. 

Its road manners have improved too, and it’s rather entertaining to push through the bends, but as with the Corolla you’re going to find yourself wishing for a turbocharger. There are only two normally aspirated options in the form of an 88kW 1.5, which struggles at altitude, and a 121kW 2-litre. Both are available with six-speed auto transmissions.

In keeping with its more upmarket positioning, this Mazda is also far better equipped than before, with items like head-up display, push-button start, seven airbags and touchscreen infotainment with CarPlay and Android Auto, fitted across the board.

Honda Civic

Much of what we’ve already said about the Corolla and Mazda3 applies to the latest Honda Civic sedan, which has distinctive styling, decent spec and impressive on-road sophistication.

Unlike its key rivals, you can also have the Civic with turbo power, in this case an impressive 1.5-litre unit with 127kW, but if you want this version you’re not going to get much change for 500 grand. Settle for the 103kW 1.8-litre NA engine, though, and you can have a Civic within the Corolla’s price range.

The 1.8 Comfort has all the luxury basics like leather seats, climate control and infotainment, but you’ll have to stretch to the 1.5T Executive at R517 800 to get modern driver assistance gadgets like Lane Departure Warning and Blind Spot Camera.

Subaru Impreza

Here’s one you don’t see on the roads very often. Relaunched in 2017, the new-generation Impreza is built on a fresh platform and impresses with its comfy ride and quiet road manners. 

As the only car here with all-wheel-drive, you also get that acclaimed Subaru road holding, but a high performance rally car it is not. Like its key rivals, power comes from a 2-litre normally aspirated petrol engine, which in this case produces 115kW and 196Nm, and it’s paired with a CVT gearbox.

The base model comes with a touchscreen featuring CarPlay and AA, but there isn’t much else in the way of luxury and tech unless you opt for the more expensive, but comparatively lavish, 2.0i S-ES.

Audi A3 Sedan

This one’s not exactly a direct rival to the Corolla but since the base model comes within R40 000 of the Toyota flagship, it could be considered an alternative, at a push.

The Audi is set to be replaced in the not-too-distant future, with the next-generation hatch version already unveiled at this year’s ‘mock’ Geneva show, but the current A3 four-door is still a stylish option with a cabin that simply oozes class. That said, you’re not going to get a lot of fancy tech unless you raid the options list.

The Audi does have an ace up its sleeve for those seeking turbo power, although only the 85kW 1-litre unit is available for under R500 000. 

IOL Motoring

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