New Corolla to follow Yaris lead

Toyota’s 11th-generation Corolla will follow the lead of the Japanese giant’s latest Yaris by arriving in hatch-only form first, following its global debut at the Paris Motor Show in September and its Australian premiere at the Sydney show in October.

However, while the new Corolla hatch – which will be released here a week after its local debut in late October – will be joined 12 months later by a redesigned Corolla sedan, Toyota’s long-running Yaris sedan will not be replaced.

The third-generation, 130-series Yaris hatch was launched here in both three- and five-door guises in October, but has learned the six-year-old Yaris sedan – launched here in March 2006 – will soldier on until it is eventually killed off within two years.

Toyota’s current Yaris sedan is sold only in Japan, the US and Australia, where it accounts for less than 20 per cent of overall Yaris sales, and Toyota sources have confirmed a lack of global demand will prevent a successor being developed.

The Corolla sedan, on the other hand, comprises about 40 per cent of Corolla sales in Australia and therefore plays a vital role in the sales success of Toyota’s volume-selling small car, which consistently ranks as one of Australia’s most popular cars.

As part of a strategy to develop the Auris and Corolla sedan as two distinct small-car offerings globally, the all-new Corolla four-door will emerge in about 18 months, based on the redesigned hatch, which will continue to wear the Auris nameplate in all markets outside Australia.

Toyota Australia has confirmed the new Corolla hatch will appear at October’s Australian International Motor Show in Sydney following its global debut in Paris, and understands first official images and details will be revealed before that.

While these images of the new Auris hatch, reproduced by Brazilian website Noticias Automotivas, provide an accurate indication of what Australia’s next Corolla hatch will look like, the all-new Corolla Axio launched in Japan last month is different to the Corolla sedan to be offered in Australia by late 2013.

As evidenced by these leaked brochure images, which could depict the new Auris hybrid, the Mk11 Corolla will wear a more aggressive exterior design featuring more angular Prius-style headlights and could also adopt fuel-saving idle-stop technology – dubbed ‘Smart-stop’ – as standard across the range.

The brochure also refers to a CVT (continuously variable transmission), which could also replace the current Corolla’s outdated four-speed automatic gearbox, although the Corolla’s current 100kW 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol engine is likely to carry over with only minor performance and efficiency upgrades.

Toyota Australia, which recently extended its Prius hybrid family with the introduction of smaller ‘c’ hatch and larger ‘v’ people-mover models, will not release hybrid or diesel versions of the new Corolla, which will continue to come here from Japan.

A 2.0-litre diesel Auris will continue in Europe – as will a petrol-electric version employing the same Hybrid Synergy Drive system from the Prius – and Toyota is expected to debut new 1.6 and 2.0-litre BMW-sourced diesel engines in Europe’s Auris range from 2014.

The next Corolla - which will replace a model that has been outsold in recent times by the Mazda3 and will face further market pressure from Holden’s homegrown Cruze, Hyundai’s redesigned i30 hatch, Honda’s new Civic, Ford’s newly Thai-sourced Focus and the all-new Nissan Pulsar that will follow it on sale within months – is expected to grow in most key dimensions.

Overseas reports claim it will be about 30mm longer overall, delivering improved passenger head and legroom, as well as a larger boot – despite being 55mm lower overall and the same width.

Expect the more spacious new Corolla interior, which features more chrome detailing than before, to take a step up in terms of material quality as it attempt to wrest more sales from Europe’s dominant Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus.

While Yaris sales are up 17.6 per cent to May this year (accounting for a commanding 14.2 per cent share of the mainstream light-car market with 7677 examples sold) and Corolla sales are also 11.7 per cent up (to 15,222), Toyota Australia’s top-selling model continues to trail the Mazda3 as the nation’s second most popular car, both in the volume-selling small-car segment and – narrowly ahead of the HiLux - overall.

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