Toyota Corolla Diesel 2010 Review

Toyota Corolla Diesel 2010 Review

The Toyota Corolla needs little introduction, the name ‘Corolla’ is Latin for small crown and is a fitting moniker for what is undoubtedly the king of hatchbacks. Since its introduction in 1966 the Corolla has become the best selling car nameplate in the world with over 35 million sales. That’s one Corolla sold every 40 seconds, but staggering statistics aside what exactly makes this car so special? It’s not any radical styling flair or break-neck performance but instead bulletproof reliability and legendary longevity that have earned its lofty position. Now in 2010, the Corolla is offered with a variety of power train options including a new diesel motor. Car and SUV took a drive in the diesel-sipping Corolla to see if the king’s crown still shines bright.

What makes our tested Corolla special lays under the stout bonnet in the form of Toyota’s 1.4-litre turbo diesel motor. Code-named D-4D, this 4-cylinder mill puts out 66kW of power and a healthy 205Nm of torque. Armed with the diesel engine the Corolla is certainly no rocket ship but when pushed to higher revs it’s capable of decent progress. While the torque figure is impressive on paper it doesn’t translate into lashings of low-down grunt but is noticeable through the mid-range when the turbo engages. The Corolla feels at home in urban traffic and is a capable motorway cruiser but open-road overtaking requires ample space and caution.

The diesel engine comes exclusively mated to a 6-speed manual transmission. Shifting is simple with the gearstick offering notchy but short changes and the clutch pedal very light and predictable in its engagement. The gear ratios however aren’t ideal and are quite wide letting the car get easily bogged down at low rpm. The only way to combat this is to drive it quite hard, which won’t suit many potential Corolla customers. The flip side of living with a small capacity diesel engine is fuel economy that is very impressive at just 4.7l/100km combined. By comparison the 1.8-litre petrol Corolla uses 7.3l/100km on the combined cycle but naturally, offers more spirited performance.

In dynamic terms the Corolla is built for the city and suburbs with a soft-riding relaxed approach best suited to daily commuting. The electric steering is light and precise giving the Corolla a nimble feel in carparks and narrow streets. The suspension set-up is very compliant and expertly negates cracked roads and speed bumps. However, take the Corolla on twisted open roads and the light steering offers only vague communication and the suspension gives way to body roll. Overall, the Corolla’s chassis and suspension set-up never inspires the driver to push harder but for those uninterested in a sporty drive its handling is predictable and safe. This lack of driver appeal may not concern many Corolla customers but a quick blast in segment competitors like the Ford Focus or VW Golf will quickly expose the Corolla’s dynamic inabilities.

For the 2010 model year updates have been made to the exterior of the Corolla including sharper halogen headlights that flank a wider more prominent grille. The rear is refreshed by a new bumper with a black plastic diffuser and a widened silver hatch handle. The diesel Corolla is fitted with 15-inch steel wheels as standard kit alongside body coloured door handles and tinted side and rear glass. Driver visibility is very good helped by split A-pillars and tall side windows. The Corollas exterior aesthetic is fairly neutral and will have a general appeal, it’s also very well screwed together and that’s a clear indication of Toyota’s renowned durability.

The interior offers greater flamboyance with a mixture of dark plastics and contrasting silver trim. The floating centre control stack draws the eye and plays host for the audio and climate controls close to the driver’s hands. The gearstick is high-mounted and the handbrake positioned prominently at the console’s base. Long silver door-pulls are another styling feature and further break up the monotony of dark plastics. More soft touch materials have been added for the new model, notably over the curved instrument cluster and the lid to the large split glove box. The seats could use more support but are comfortable and finished in a hardwearing patterned cloth. The leather wrapped steering wheel feels great and has audio control buttons inserted. It’s a spacious hatchback cabin with good headroom all round and decent leg room for backseat passengers. Standard equipment on the Corolla includes pollen-filtered air-conditioning, electric windows all round, six speaker CD stereo, remote central locking and audio input jacks. In terms of interior fit and finish it’s hard to fault the Corolla, the plastics feel hardy and everything is secured tightly.

No corners have been cut with safety and the Corolla has a full compliment of electronic aides. These include Stability and Traction Control, ABS brakes, seven airbags in total including driver’s knee bag, front-seat pre-tensioners and 3-point belts for all passengers.

So is the Toyota Corolla still the king of hatchbacks? That’s no longer an easy question to answer, but yes it is, just not to everyone. It still has great appeal to a large demographic who will use it simply as an everyday commuting machine, a role in which it excels and makes total sense. But those seeking a livelier, fun-driving experience will be better suited to genuine driver focused hatchbacks like the Mazda3. That said, the traditional Toyota strengths of reliability and longevity appear alive and well in the new Corolla and those are virtues that are always in fashion. Combined with strong safety credentials, great economy, solid resale value and a spacious and user-friendly cabin, the Corolla still has plenty of shine in the hatchback kingdom.

Price: $36,990

What we like:

  • Solid build quality
  • Good cabin ergonomics
  • Safe and reliable hatchback
  • Fuel economy

What we don’t like:

  • Cornering dynamics lacking
  • Underpowered diesel engine
  • Uninspired styling

Words and Photos: Adam Mamo

Other reviews of interest:

Ford Fiesta Zetec (2009) — Road Test

Peugeot 207 XT (2009) — Road Test

Honda Jazz (2009) — Road Test

Kia Soul (2009) — Road Test

Mazda3 SP25 (2009) — Road Test

Nissan Qashqai (2009) — Road Test

Suzuki Swift XE (2008) — Road Test

Toyota Corolla Diesel (2010) — Specifications

Engine Model Code     1ND-TV
Type     In-line, 4 Cylinder, 8 Valve, SOHC Chain Drive
Alternator     100 amps
Battery Voltage     12 volts
Bore     73.0
Capacity     1364 cc
Compression     17.8 : 1
Configuration     In-line 4 cylinder
Condition     Euro 4
Emission     124 g/km
Test     EU directive 70/220/EEC
Fuel Tank Capacity     55 litres
Fuel Type     Diesel
Injection Type     Common-rail Direct Injection
Location     Front, Transverse
Maximum Power     66 kW 3800 rpm
Maximum Torque     205 Nm 1800-2800 rpm
Starter     1.6 kW
Stroke     81.5

Fuel Economy Rating      5 out of 6
Litres per 100km     4.7
Fuel Cost Per Year2008 cost per year based on price per litre of $1.85 and an average distance of 14,000 km     $1,410

Front     MacPherson Struts and Stabiliser Bar
Rear     Torsion Beam Type Rear Suspension

Minimum Turning Circle     10.40
Steering Ratio     14.44
Turns lock to lock     2.90

Tyre Size     195/65 R15
Wheel Size     6J x 15″
Wheel Type     Steel

Front     Power assisted ventilated discs
Rear     Power assisted solid discs
Park Brake     Lever type mechanical parking brake
ABS     Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist (BA) operating on all 4 wheels and controlled by engine management

Front Track     1535 mm
Rear Track     1535 mm
Gross Vehicle Weight     1760 kg
Kerb Weight     1260-1310 kg
Minimum Ground Clearance     140 mm
Overall Height     1515 mm
Overall Length     4245 mm
Overall Width     1760 mm
Tow Capacity Braked     1000 kg
Tow Capacity Unbraked     450 kg
Wheelbase     2600 mm

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