AUSTRALIA’S bestselling passenger car will finally offer Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), as part of a MY17 Toyota Corolla makeover that also sees a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it facelift for the sedan.
While the cost of the so-called Safety Pack – which also bundles together lane-departure alert and auto high beam on the small-car market leader for the first time – has yet to be finalised for the otherwise-unchanged 2017 hatch (out at the end of this month), it pushes the just-released base Ascent and mid-range SX sedans up by $1500 and $750 respectively.
With only the flagship ZR featuring the freshly minted AEB driver-assist tech as standard, the Corolla still trails the Mazda 3 and Skoda Octavia by not having AEB in every car (though the Toyota goes one better than the latest Honda Civic and Ford Focus by not limiting the safety systems to the most expensive variants only).
However, the MY17 sedans cop price hikes of up to $930, with the Ascent manual now starting at $500 more than its 2016 counterpart, at $21,240 before on-road costs. Specifying Safety Pack increases that to $22,740 (though it does also bring alloy wheels), or $24,990 with the optional CVT auto that the vast majority of buyers choose.
Toyota says the Corolla sedan offsets the extra cost by gaining more equipment (including Lexus-style ‘Optitron’ back-lit instrumentation and a new seven-inch touchscreen display with an internet-app accessibility on Ascent, sat-nav on SX, and LED headlights on ZR), as well as an higher-quality trim and finishes.
Exterior changes on the MY17 sedan run to a more streamlined nose with redesigned headlights, grille, and bumpers, LED tail-light lenses, and extra chrome, while inside the restyled centre stack ushers in different climate control switchgear and rounded air vents.
Additionally, the Corolla sedan’s driveability benefits from an extensively retuned CVT with responses that are claimed to be smoother yet more linear, while some mechanical fettling sees slight fuel economy efficiency gains. Otherwise, the ageing, carryover 103kW/173Nm 1.8-litre litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder petrol engine’s power and torque outputs remains the same as before.
Rounding out the modifications underneath the MY17 sedan are larger shock absorbers, upgraded body and engine mounts, and an additional rear damper bush to promote a more favourable handling/ride compromise. Furthermore, noise/vibration/harshness levels decrease thanks to more wheel housing insulation and thicker sound-deadening material in the floor.
Imported from Thailand as opposed to the hatch’s Japanese sourcing, the sedan currently runs at only 20 percent of total series volume, so the company is obviously hoping the changes will boost its popularity. Some 40,330 Corollas overall were sold in Australia last year, putting it just 1774 units shy of the Toyota HiLux pick-up sales king. The second bestselling small car was the Hyundai i30 at 37,772 registrations, ahead of the Mazda 3’s 36,107 tally.
But with the all-new Holden Astra and Subaru Impreza hitting the scene, as well as the next-generation i30 and Civic hatch just around the corner, it will be interesting to see if the Corolla can maintain its segment sales crown.
2017 Toyota E170 Series II Corolla sedan pricing
Ascent manual: $21,240 (up $500)
Ascent CVT: $23,490 (up $500)
SX manual: $23,820 (up $830)
SX CVT: $26,070 (up $830)
ZR CVT: $31,920 (up $930)