This week’s car is a bit difficult to talk about. As most of you can see from the photo, it is the 11th generation 2014 Toyota Corolla, a rather common model. The all-new 2014 Corolla got a whole facelift and it actually doesn’t look bad compared to the new Honda Civic. It is a bit of a fatty now because it gained a couple inches in length and half an inch in width, which seems minute but makes it look like it has a big rear end. Prices start at $17K and the highest S model, which is what I tested, costs $19K with a sportier look and more features that comes as standard. So why am I still talking about this very common car that sells over 300,000 units per year worldwide?
The 2014 model is more expensive than last year’s models but the standard features are more than enough to make up for that price difference. Now as standard on all models are touch screen, Bluetooth, USB and AUX port, and iPod related stuff. But why the touch screen? Well, every model also comes with a rear camera. It is surprisingly clear, with guiding lines. The steering wheels also have basic controls for the Bluetooth and normal attachments. For some strange reason, options come in a package only, and you are not reading that wrong at all. There is only one package that costs $2360 with every optional extra Toyota can put on the car. Everything else you can choose on the website are accessories that probably will be given free by the dealership. Now, let’s move on to what it is like to drive the new Corolla.
As I said before, I drove the S model. Specifically, I drove the S Plus with the 6-speed manual, and I had the biggest urge to buy the car after my test drive. It really was a great drive and above my expectations. If you are capable of driving a manual and want one, only the L and S Plus models get the manual transmission. The other ones get the 4-speed automatic. The 1.8L 4-cylinder engine that is fitted, except the Eco models, produces 132 hp with a combined 32 mpg . The Eco models has a Valvematic Valve Timing fitted that produces 140 hp with a combined 35 mpg, and I cannot explain here about how that is possible. All I can tell you is how great it was to drive the S Plus.
I had been in old Corollas before and never felt a desire to own one or drive one, but I am serious when I say I wanted to get one now. My friend also went and had a drive, and agreed, saying he would have bought the car if he did not already have the new Civic Si. Steering was surprisingly smooth and responsive at the same time so each slight adjustment from my hands was instantly translated into directional change. The clutch is soft, so a daily traffic jam would not make you want to cut your leg off after each trip, and there is a big span where the pedal engages and disengages the clutch. It might sound very arrogant, but with my quick hands and feet, I was able to change gear like an automatic gearbox with minimal jerking. I was instantly feeling like a pro with that crazy shifting. And the car actually responded back to my madness. Each downshift to push the car faster was almost instant and the engine didn’t sound like it was struggling to cope. With little power and a reasonable weight, my expectations were beaten senseless by what this new Corolla can do.
There are some flaws that would make me second guess a purchase, mainly with the back seats. You might think it is weird to decide not to get the car because of the back seats, but people sit in my car and I don’t want them to feel like they are sitting in an SUV, which the back seats of the Corolla felt like. If you don’t care, then the 2014 Corolla is a must-try when searching for a new car.
by Xavier Poon