Toyota Corolla (2023) test: with these few tiny changes you get a much better car

Simple facelift for the Toyota Corolla (2023), right? Little interesting. But wait, the almost invisible exterior changes hide important technical improvements to this Toyota, which will make the life of buyers and lease drivers a lot more pleasant.

Toyota is ambitious. In Europe, the Corolla is the second best-selling compact mid-range car, after the Volkswagen Golf, but the Japanese manufacturer is not completely satisfied with that position. The Corolla must push through to the highest scaffold in the C-segment, Toyota believes. This modest facelift and extensive technical update should contribute to that. And those camouflage strips in the photos? they are there to indicate that this is a pre-production model.

At what points was the Toyota Corolla changed?

Shall we briefly touch on the external changes? Then we’ve had that and we can move on to more important matters. There’s a different grille pattern in the grille and new wheels and colors are available, that’s about it. More interestingly, the more expensive Corolla models now have bi-LED headlights, with an optional adaptive high beam assistant.

From the outside we go in, where two changes are immediately noticeable: the addition of a nice, clear digital cockpit and the fact that there seems to be an open laptop on top of the center console. It is the infotainment screen, which has grown to 10.5 inches, that runs the latest version of Toyota’s multimedia system and can now receive over-the-air updates.

under 10 seconds

But as mentioned, the big news lies under the body, where Toyota has placed a more compact, lighter, but stronger battery. The lithium-ion battery weighs 18 kilograms less than before (depending on the powertrain) and can now release and absorb energy faster, such as with regenerative braking.

The Corolla is available in two hybrid versions. We drove the 1.8 Hybrid, which has received a power boost from 122 to 140 hp and dives under 10 seconds on the 0-100 km/h sprint for the first time. The Corolla’s CO2 emissions will not change. In theory, that is still at 102 g/km, with a WLTP consumption of 1 to 22.2.

According to Toyota, the top model of the Corolla range, the 2.0 Hybrid, has even become slightly more economical after the update. He went 16 hp ahead and almost reached 200 hp. Yet it comes more than 1.5 kilometers further on a liter of petrol (1 in 20.8, was 1 in 19.2). Plus, he’s gotten seriously fast. Already after 7.5 seconds you fly past 100 km/h.

Toyota Corolla (2023) test: a few tiny changes make it much better

No more elastic

However, those numbers don’t tell the whole story. A Toyota engineer explained to us that the hybrid system’s tuning has also been tinkered with, allowing the powertrain to respond more quickly to input from the accelerator pedal. In addition, the combustion engine runs less rpm during acceleration, which improves the sound comfort.

And that is noticeable along the way. We didn’t have a decibel meter with us, so we don’t have hard figures, but the Corolla does feel more relaxed. You can still hear the 1.8-litre four-cylinder roar a little when you sprint away at the traffic light (it’s attached to a stepless transmission), but not so annoying anymore. However, sometimes the undercarriage is disturbing, which communicates irregularities too clearly.

It is crystal clear that the upgraded Corolla is a lot better on track than before. In the current model – which will be relieved at the beginning of 2023 – there seems to be an elastic band on the right pedal, which first stretches and only then opens the throttles, or gives the electric motor a boost. That slight lag in the Toyota’s response is now largely gone.

Toyota Corolla (2023) test: a few tiny changes make it much better
Toyota Corolla (2023) test: a few tiny changes make it much better

Something in the back seat?

An interim update also includes an expansion of the number of safety systems, which Toyota clusters under the name T-Mate. Interesting additions are Safe Exit Assist and the Rear Seat Reminder. The latter keeps track of whether you opened the rear door before driving away and reminds you that you may have belongings or a child in the back seat when you stop.

Safe Exit Assist warns you about cyclists and pedestrians when getting out. If you pull the release button and someone approaches, the door will not open. Finally, there is the Emergency Driving Stop System, which stops the car and switches on the hazard lights if, for example, you have fallen asleep on the road. Which is unlikely to happen to you in this smoother, improved Corolla…

New Toyota Corolla will not arrive until 2023

If you’re considering a Toyota Corolla, hold on a little longer. Because you would prefer this renewed variant, which will be launched after the turn of the year, with more power and a hybrid powertrain that feels a lot more awake and sounds less under full load. The fine new infotainment system is the icing on the applesauce.

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