The Toyota Corolla has been an integral part of many global markets for several decades, but never before has the Japanese compact sedan been this striking, smart and say aesthetically appealing.
Will that be enough to ensure that the venerable Corolla 4-door, which is due to be launched into the African market space in the second quarter of 2020, remains relevant in a vehicle market obsessed with crossovers and SUVs.
In Nigeria described as the most preferred market for automobiles where Toyota Nigeria Limited is the franchisee, the Corolla sedan has been a huge part of the Japanese brand’s success story.
This model has been built locally since the mid-’70s (in excess of a million units have been produced) and, although the Hilux and its Fortuner sibling deserve much of the credit for Toyota’s current strong position in the new vehicle market, the Corolla once established its maker as a powerhouse in the passenger-car segment. And to many local industry analysts, this car is a Nigerian institution.
Upon its launch, this new-generation model will also be built in the company’s Prospecton plant in Durban. But first, early in 2020, the current Corolla sedan which was launched in 2014 will be unveiled as the new Corolla Quest with a drastically reduced lineup, while this new-generation model will be pitched above it as a modern upmarket and modern and therefore, more expensive offering.
It may well appeal to some private buyers, but as is the case in many markets around the world, the all-new 12th-generation Corolla sedan will also appeal to fleet buyers especially in its simpler configurations. The front-end design is characterised by shapely all-LED lamp clusters with integral daytime running lights.
More aggressively styled and conventionally attractive or even curvaceous and appreciably more characterful than the model that precedes it, the new-generation Corolla sedan carries on the design theme of the Corolla hatch that debuted last year.
Yet, the newcomer’s still instantly identifiable as a Corolla and that will please the brand-loyal-but-tradition-bound folks in the sedan’s heartland. It’s built upon Toyota’s New Generation Architecture (TNGA), the same platform that underpins the likes of the C-HR compact family car, Prius hybrid and RAV4 family car and that means it has a lower centre of gravity and looks comparatively sleeker and streamlined as a result.
The new Corolla has a longer rear overhang than its predecessor, but slimline tail-light clusters make its rear-end appear well. Comparatively, the dimensions of the new-generation Corolla sedan are incrementally larger than those of the previous model.
It measures 4 630 mm in length (10mm longer) and 1780 mm in width (5 mm broader), but sits 25 mm lower to the ground (height: 1 435 mm). Toyota makes a bit of a big deal about the fact that the front overhang is shorter and the rear overhangs longer – the design change, according to the automaker “delivers an entirely new dynamic appearance”.
Inside, it does have the typically Toyota approach to cabin practicality, though. There are cup holders between the front seats, good storage options including a covered centre console, and big door pockets with bottle holders.The newcomer looks relatively low-slung; proportion-wise, it’s a more balanced/elegant car than the current Corolla sedan.
In summary, the new-generation Corolla sedan remains a practically-packaged, well-made and sufficiently-refined sedan. However, it is appreciably more technology-oriented than its predecessor and quite attractively styled. While there is no doubt it will once again appeal to fleet customers, private buyers could also be rewarded if they’re willing to think outside the box.
In fact, the new 2020 Corolla sedan is a more convincing and complete offering than the previous model by some margin, and while this 12th-generation small sedan may not prove to be the panacea to the crossover/SUV craze, it certainly offers plenty for family-car customers to consider.