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Juliet McGuire

The Corolla Hybrid holds the key

The debate surrounding Electric Vehicles (EVs) and South Africa’s infrastructure is heating up and I think the likes of the Toyota Corolla Hybrid might just hold the proverbial key to the solution.

Look, I am all for EVs coming to SA, we don’t want to be lagging behind the rest of the world. However, as we are seeing more and more, the problems with our infrastructure are becoming increasingly obvious. Just the other day I was chatting to a fellow journalist who had an EV for a week and struggled to charge it due to the fact that many of the public chargers were either broken or not powerful enough. I understand that most owners would have a home charger and would not be affected too much, until they want to head out on a road trip, that is. Another member of this industry thinks it would just take planning ahead and all would be ok. I don’t know about you, but setting out a route, then having to call ahead to every place that has a charging station along the route to confirm it is in working order feels a like a bit too much work for me. Especially when they cannot guarantee that it will be working when you arrive, or that another five cars will be in line to use it. So what might take five hours could now take 12 hours. No thanks! Basically, until this country gets its act together when it comes to EVs and what is truly required, the only feasible answer is a hybrid. And Toyota is leading the way with its range.

COROLLA HYBRID FTW

The Corolla is undoubtedly one of the world’s best-selling cars. Now in its 12-generation having sold more than 45 million units globally, South Africa got its first taste of it back in 1975 with the third generation. Since 1994, almost 600 000 have been sold in our country. It is synonymous with quality, durability, reliability and affordability. It’s no wonder Toyota decided to add a hybrid version to the line up. Continuing the success story in an ever-changing climate. We first saw a hybrid system in the Corolla Sedan and in 2020, the Corolla Cross was introduced with two hybrid offerings. And now, the updated Corolla Hatchback arrives with a hybrid offering to boot.

UPDATING THE COROLLA

There has been some styling changes made to both the Sedan and the Hatchback, but its the cabin that has seen more significant changes such as a revised eight-inch infotainment system with three new display modes as well as voice recognition and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There is also a larger seven-inch combination cluster on the XS grade while the top of the range XR gets a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster. When it comes to what lies beneath, the turbocharged 1.2T derivatives have been discontinued as well as the entry-level 1.8 XS Sedan model. There is no longer a manual transmission on offer, only the CVT.

There are three hybrid derivatives for the Hatchback (Xs, Xr, and Xr with bi-tone styling), and two 2.0-litre naturally aspirated models (Xs and XR with bi-tone). The Sedan range has two hybrids (Xs and XR with bi-tone) and a 2.0-litre naturally aspirated Xr model. Safety has been upgraded with the latest Toyota Safety Sense (TSS) 3.0 driver assistance suite.

DRIVING THE HATCHBACK HYBRID

Powered by the latest 5th generation 1.8-litre Petrol-Electric Hybrid powertrain, the outputs sit at 103 kW and 142 Nm. The hybrid system is supported by a revised 18.1 kW lithium-ion battery and fuel consumption is claimed at just 3.5l/100 km. I don’t know about you, but with the way things are at the moment fuel-wise, this consumption sounds like a dream. The Sedan is ever so slightly higher, but still super low, at 3.9l/100 km. We got to drive both the Sedan and the Hatch, but it’s the Hatch I am more interested in here. It was a short route, but enough to showcase the comfort of the Corolla Hatch Hybrid. We already know how good the Corolla is, the Hybrid just means you get to enjoy it even more without having to worry too much about fuel. We saw a fuel figure of around 5.2l/100 km, but you will certainly be able to get that lower when driving mindfully. This car is perfect for the city, especially if you are sitting in traffic, because the Hybrid can recoup energy while cruising and braking which in turn tops up the battery which can then be re-used in EV mode.

TO BUY OR NOT TO BUY

There is one slight problem I have. It is the same issue that I had with the Corolla Cross Hybrid. You see, Hybrids are more expensive than the standard Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) models. You will need to consider how long you intend on owning the Hybrid to really know if it is worth the extra spend and whether that versus the cost of fuel you’ll spend on the ICE model is going to be a big enough justification. The same goes for competitor models (in ICE versions) which have a similar fuel consumption as the Hybrid but are cheaper. I think it might come down to peace of mind. As well as the fact that this is perhaps a softer landing into EVs. One just needs to look at the price of EVs in South Africa to know that most people won’t be able to afford them. That’s why I say something like the Corolla Hybrid holds the key. It is the perfect balance between ICE models and EVs.

PRICING OF THE COROLLA HATCH

  • Corolla Hatch 1.8 Xs Hybrid: R 490 900
  • Corolla Hatch 1.8 Xr Hybrid: R 528 400
  • Corolla Hatch 1.8 Xr Hybrid Bi-tone: R 538 800
  • Corolla Hatch 2.0 Xr CVT: R 517 100
  • Corolla Hatch 2.0 Xr CVT Bi-tone: R 529 000

PRICING OF THE COROLLA SEDAN

  • Corolla 1.8 Xs Hybrid: R 502 600
  • Corolla 1.8 Xr Hybrid: R 521 800
  • Corolla 2.0 Xr CVT: R 517 100

The press release mentions this bit of peace of mind and I am going to add it verbatim because I think it is relevant.

“All Corolla Hatch models are sold with a 6-services/90 000 km service plan (intervals set at 15 000 km). Petrol models carry a 3-year/100 000km warranty, while hybrid models hold an 8-year/195 000 km warranty plan. Service and warranty plan extensions can also be purchased from any Toyota dealer (220 outlets).

All Toyota models come equipped with Toyota Connect, including a complimentary 15 Gb in car Wi-Fi allocation, vehicle telematics and enhanced user features via the MyToyota app.”

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