The Toyota Corolla hatchback has been one of those cars Canadians desired to purchase but have never been able to do so, while Toyota Canada kept teasing with Matrixes and iMs, both of which were based on Corolla and sometimes took advantage of the marketable name.
The Corolla has been available as a hatchback since its fifth generation in 1983, with the last North American version selling out in 1987. In 2006, Toyota switched the global name to Auris and there have been two generations, with the latest coming to North America as the iM (first as a Scion and then as a Toyota).
The new generation 2019 Corolla hatchback will make its debut at the New York International Auto Show and go on sale in Canada in summer 2018 in S, SE and XSE trim. The compact will be built on Toyota’s New Global Architecture (TNGA) and get power from a larger-displacement (but physically smaller and lighter) 2.0-litre 4-cylinder, controlled by either a 6-speed manual (with rev-matching on downshifts) or a 10-step continuously-variable transmission (with a launch gear).
The new model is lower (by 25 mm), wider (by 30 mm) and longer (by 40 mm) than the iM, riding on a wider track and longer wheelbase. Most evident is a new nose, with a larger trapezoidal grille set into the front bumper, flanked by fog lights (depending on trim) and sitting below J-shaped LED driving lights and headlamps (standard on all models) wrapping deep into the fenders.
At the other end, the hatchgate is now made from composite materials to make it easier to open and close, and to aid fuel economy. The back is less steeply raked by 14 degrees from its predecessor, topped by a standard rear spoiler, framed by large wrap-around LED taillamps (standard on all models), and closing over a rear bumper that mimics the front’s large grille.
On the colour palette, new Rival Blue (rival as in Subaru’s signature WRC blue, perhaps?) joins Blizzard Pearl, Silver Metallic, Midnight Black, Galactic Aqua Mica, Scarlet, and Oxide Bronze.
The car rides on a new platform dependent front MacPherson strut/rear multi-link suspension and 15- to 18-inch wheels, depending on trim.
Inside, occupants are welcomed by seats with revised cushioning for a more natural body posture, rear seat high-mounted door bottle holders and, up front, an 8-inch touchscreen in the centre of the instrument panel. Below it are the centre vents and digital controls for the climate control system. Between the seats a longer and wider centre console houses a wireless charging station (depending on trim).
Push-button start is standard, as is climate control, an electronic parking brake, auto up/down windows and two USB ports. Heated front seats are included in the SE trim, as are paddle shifters for the CVT, anti-theft system and leather trim (steering wheel and shift knob).
The XSE gets standard dual-zone climate control, leather seating, 8-way power driver’s seat and a 7-inch digital instrument panel that displays vehicle diagnostics, navigation directions and various safety system settings.
Standard safety systems include pre-collision alert with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assist, automatic high-beams, vehicle tracking (using lane markings or the vehicle ahead to maintain lane integrity), stability control, traction control, anti-lock brakes with brake assist and brake-force distribution, and a standard rearview camera. Blind-spot alert is available on SE and XSE.