Car Enthusiast - click here to access the home page


First drive: 2023 Toyota Corolla Touring Sports. Image by Toyota.

First drive: 2023 Toyota Corolla Touring Sports
Toyota’s updated Corolla aims to fix all the issues of its predecessor without damaging the aspects that gave it so much appeal.


<< earlier review     later review >>

Reviews homepage -> Toyota reviews

2023 Toyota Corolla Touring Sports

4 4 4 4 4

To the surprise of absolutely nobody, the Toyota Corolla remains a sales phenomenon. Built in Derbyshire, the family hatchback combines efficiency, practicality and reliability in one surprisingly pleasant-to-drive package. But it has had its flaws, including a slightly weedy basic powertrain and a dodgy infotainment system. Now, though, Toyota claims to have fixed the problems...

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Toyota Corolla Touring Sports Design 1.8 Hybrid (Excel pictured)
Pricing: £33,115 as tested
Engine: 1.8-litre four-cylinder 'self-charging' hybrid
Transmission: e-CVT automatic, front-wheel drive
Body style: five-door, five-seat estate
CO2 emissions: 106g/km
Combined economy: 60.1mpg
Top speed: 112mph
0-62mph: 9.4 seconds
Power: 140hp
Torque: 250Nm
Boot space: 596 litres


Changes to the Corolla's exterior design are pretty minor, with just some new mesh on the front grille, new fog light bezels and some new alloy wheel designs. That means only a few will notice the updates, but it isn't as though the Corolla's looks were holding it back anyway. Admittedly, it's far from the prettiest hatchback on the market, but it's handsome enough and the rear end of the Touring Sports is integrated quite elegantly. In fact, we'd probably say the estate was slightly better looking.


While Toyota hasn't made many changes to the Corolla's exterior, the interior has been treated to a more comprehensive update. Chief among the improvements is a 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Toyota's latest software, making a massive difference to the dashboard with its brighter display and increased dimensions.

But that's not all that's good about the new screen. It's much sharper and easier to use than the old system, with clearer displays and more logical menus, as well as a vastly more up-to-date look. It works really well with the Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration systems, too.

Alongside the new touchscreen is a new and more modern digital instrument display, which is vastly superior to the one that went before. While it still can't quite match systems such as the one seen in the VW Golf or Audi A3, it's much more competitive alongside the equivalent screen in a Ford Focus.

Toyota has also tweaked the materials used in the cabin, as well as some of the design features, but the basic principle remains the same. This isn't the most stylish cabin on the planet, but it feels modern and well built, with every button and component feeling sturdy enough to stand up to family life. Admittedly, some of the plastics are a bit cheap in places, but that isn't uncommon in cars of this size.


Naturally, the whole point of the Corolla Touring Sports is practicality, otherwise you'd stick with the conventional hatchback. But with 596 litres of boot space, the Toyota's practicality is bountiful. Pretty much anything you ever need to carry will go in the back, and if you do happen to need more space, you can always pop the back seats down. After all, the Corolla Touring Sports is so practical Toyota has built a two-seat van version.

If you want to use those back seats, though, you won't have any trouble fitting adults in there. The rear legroom is plentiful and the headroom will be ample for all but the very tallest passengers. If you have kids, they'll love the extra room.


Toyota has made some changes to the hybrid systems fitted to Corolla models, and this 1.8-litre powertrain has been subjected to the greatest upgrade. Lighter components and a new control unit have helped to improve efficiency, and there’s a new cooling system designed to make less noise. There’s a new motor-generator, too, and lower-viscosity oil for reduced friction.

Elsewhere, Toyota has fitted a smaller and lighter battery with a higher output, allowing the car to produce more power – up to 140hp in the case of this 1.8-litre variant. That means the new 1.8 is now 1.8 seconds faster from 0-62mph than its predecessor, cutting the time to less than 10 seconds. It’s a handy improvement, and it means the 1.8-litre Corolla is now more than sufficient for most people’s needs, and it no longer feels like an entry level choice.

And although it’s more powerful, it’s still mighty efficient, with an official economy figure of 60.1mpg. And because it uses the electric motor more regularly than you might imagine, it can achieve that given the right situation. On a motorway, though, you’re probably looking at around 50mpg, which is diesel-rivalling levels of efficiency.

Perhaps more impressive is the improvement in efficiency. At everyday speeds it’s quite difficult to work out when the engine is running, which is testament to Toyota’s improvements, and although the engine still gets a bit rowdy when pushed, it isn’t as noisy as it used to be.

Ride & Handling

While Toyota may have been busy changing the Corolla’s cabin and engine, it hasn’t done an awful lot to the driving experience. Not that it needed very much in the first place. Yes, the steering was always a bit too light, and it still is, but at least that makes the car easy to manoeuvre in town.

And, if we’re really honest, few Corolla buyers will be especially interested in driving dynamics. Instead, they’re after a comfortable family car that gets the family from A to B safely and efficiently. On those fronts, the Corolla hits the nail on the head. The ride isn’t perfect – it can thud into potholes a bit – but it’s mature and supple enough, and it never feels too jarring or unpleasant. And with those comfy seats, motorway miles are no bother at all.

You don’t even notice the extra bulk of the estate car body, which might normally make its presence felt in corners. Yes, there’s a bit of body roll, but the Corolla Touring Sports is no more wayward than the equivalent hatchback, although neither is what you’d call sporty. Everyday driving is where the car feels most at home.


The Corolla Touring Sports range starts at £31,545, which makes it about £1,300 more expensive than the hatchback. Admittedly, that doesn't sound cheap alongside rivals such as the £28,330 Peugeot 308 SW or the £27,090 VW Golf Estate, but remember the Corolla comes with hybrid tech as standard. And it gets lots of equipment, including 16-inch alloy wheels and the new touchscreen navigation system, as well as front and rear parking sensors, two-zone climate control and the digital instrument cluster. It even comes with wireless phone charging as standard.


The new Corolla is here to fix all the biggest problems associated with its already wholly competent predecessor, and it does so brilliantly. Perhaps the new touchscreen isn't perfect and the 1.8 hybrid is still a bit noisy when pushed, but both are streets ahead of their predecessors, and that stands the Corolla in very good stead. It may not be the most exciting family car on the market, but it's one of the easiest to recommend, even in its most basic form.

James Fossdyke - 13 Apr 2023    - Toyota road tests
- Toyota news
- Corolla images

2023 Toyota Corolla Touring Sports 1.8 Hybrid. Image by Toyota.2023 Toyota Corolla Touring Sports 1.8 Hybrid. Image by Toyota.2023 Toyota Corolla Touring Sports 1.8 Hybrid. Image by Toyota.2023 Toyota Corolla Touring Sports 1.8 Hybrid. Image by Toyota.2023 Toyota Corolla Touring Sports 1.8 Hybrid. Image by Toyota.

2023 Toyota Corolla Touring Sports 1.8 Hybrid. Image by Toyota.2023 Toyota Corolla Touring Sports 1.8 Hybrid. Image by Toyota.2023 Toyota Corolla Touring Sports 1.8 Hybrid. Image by Toyota.2023 Toyota Corolla Touring Sports 1.8 Hybrid. Image by Toyota.


Internal links:   | Home | Privacy | Contact us | Archives | Old motor show reports | Follow Car Enthusiast on Twitter | Copyright 1999-2024 ©