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LONG-TERM UPDATE 3 | We say 'sayonara' to our Toyota Corolla Hatch

26 May 2021 - 11:46 By mzi oliphant
The Corolla Hatch certainly is an eye-catching machine.
The Corolla Hatch certainly is an eye-catching machine.
Image: Waldo Swiegers

My second car in my earlier years was a Toyota Conquest. It was pimped-up with three-star rims, a Pioneer stereo with a detachable face and a bee-sting aerial on top which I used to unscrew every time I left it parked. I was a man-about-town with lots of swag.

Enter our long-termer, dubbed Stylish Smurf, a Toyota Corolla 1.2T XR CVT Bi-T. It’s a mouthful I know. Let me break it down for you in case you missed our previous missives.

Basically, CVT stands for continuously-variable transmission and 1.2 is the engine capacity, a turbocharged-petrol in this case.

The XR part depends on who you ask – some say “extreme rally”  – but what would that make the lower XS grade?

And Bi-T is for the dual-colour which is a bright Caribbean Blue, with a black roof. It’s nothing similar to my yesteryear Conquest and it makes me wonder how radically the future Corolla will evolve from this milestone.

The biggest talking point about our long-termer is the styling. It’s dazzling. Admirers actually stop and ask me if this truly is a Corolla. It’s rolling on 18-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels and sharp, curvy corners that belong everywhere they are carved.  

The angry front end is particularly striking.
The angry front end is particularly striking.
Image: Waldo Swiegers

The front has a mesh grille that looks like it’s about to swallow something and is complemented by sleek daytime-running lights and LED headlights. I still can’t get over the brilliance of cars that bright up when there’s no oncoming traffic and dim down when another car approaches. We’ve got that in Stylish Smurf. What about that inductive charger for a smartphone, the heated seats and a blind-spot monitor? Check, check and check.

The drive is smooth, but I must say it struggles a bit on steep inclines and that CVT snag comes into play when the elevation changes.

Freeways are a joy and it can be easy at times to get carried away by the zesty acceleration, leaving fellow motorists to admire the attractive backside. The reason for this is the 85kW and 185Nm delivered by that lively motor.

But I agree with my esteemed colleague, Waldo Swiegers, when he says that fuel consumption could be better for such a compact car. It hovers around the 8l/100km mark around town.

I understand the limited boot space, because of Stylish Smurf being a hatchback, but the hooter tone is ridiculous. Just picture Hulk speaking in Charlize Theron’s voice. 

CVT transmission can get tiring at times.
CVT transmission can get tiring at times.
Image: Waldo Swiegers

The seats are covered in a velvety cloth with leather trimmings for the bolsters. The infotainment is easy to operate, with your usual Bluetooth and the works. But a navigation system would be nice.   

During its short, three-month stay, myself, Waldo Swiegers and Brenwin Naidu have embarked on cross-provincial journeys in the bright blue Corolla.  

Our companionship has drawn to an end and minor snags aside, there is little doubt that Stylish Smurf will give its next owner plenty of joy.  


PRICE: R444,600




PRAISES: Styling and classy interior

GRIPES: CVT can get tiresome, limited rear space, meek hooter