2015 Toyota Corolla Ascent Sport

By Tim Pomroy on 11 September 2015
2015 Toyota Corolla Ascent Sport

Specifications

Priced from $19,790
Engine 1.8 L
Transmission 6-speed manual
Fuel Economy
6.7L/100km16.4 L/ 100km
Output 103kW @ 6400rpm
ANCAP rating
Toyota revamping its 2015 Corolla line-up just two years after the new model launch shows how competitive the small car market has become. It's very "un-Toyota" to make changes to a popular model relatively early in cycle, but with the Corolla competing for sales in the small car class – one of the few categories still resisting the SUV onslaught – it's not entirely surprising. More importantly, it's good news for buyers.

Visually there have been some changes and the model range is split into two distinct profiles – classic and sporty – with the Ascent and Ascent Sport receiving the former treatment while the higher specced SX and XR gain the sharper looking sports body kit.

Redesigned front and rear bumpers result in a silhouette that's 55mm longer. Chrome wings in the front grille, a larger logo and redesigned headlight clusters redefine the front, and the Ascent Sport we reviewed features new-design 16-inch alloy wheels.

The SX and ZR variants have shiny black honeycomb grilles, side skirts, a roof mounted spoiler and new-design 17-inch alloys, while the top spec ZR (in a Corolla first) features bi-LED headlamps with daytime running lights. Suspension settings have been revised to complement the sporty appearance.

Inside, there is more good news. The interior gets a makeover, with the dash benefiting from a major redesign. New for the Accent Sport is a seven-inch touchscreen display and the introduction of the Toyota-link app system. Interior detailing has been lifted and the instrumentation now has a softer-on-the-eye blue backlighting.

There have been some mechanical improvements as well. Engine tweaks have resulted in a fuel consumption reduction of 0.3L/100km for the manual and 0.5L/100km for the stepped CVT multi-drive transmission. Revisions to the Corolla's suspension tune have been made to improve ride quality and general handling . Toyota's capped price servicing, at $140 for the first three years, covers all models, and all retain a five-star ANCAP safety rating.

The new kit has led to a modest increase of $300 for the Ascent and Ascent Sport, while the SX remains the same price as the previous model and the ZR drops by $1000. Pricing still starts under $20,000, with the Ascent $19,790, the Ascent Sport $20,790, the SX $23,490 and range-topping ZR, only available with CVT, $28,990.

First impressions are of a fresh and contemporary design with the front and rear tweaks really only noticeable when you park it beside its predecessor, as I did in the NRMA staff carpark. It's the interior where the biggest improvements have been made; better quality materials make a big difference and the revamped dash with the new touchscreen is a highlight. On previous lower spec models, the audio system was Toyota's less than impressive modular unit. Bluetooth connectivity and general use weren't all that intuitive for first time users and there were a lot of small buttons to contend with. The new system is easier to use and better integrated into the overall design. The controls for air conditioning are easily identified and the smart leather-wrapped steering wheel frames the easy-to-read instruments.

The front seats, like those in the Toyota Camry, are a lot more comfortable than their appearance suggests. They aren't overly bolstered and you sit in them rather than on them, but for most that's a good thing. In the rear they are firmer and passengers sit up a little higher, but there is enough leg room and foot space for adults. The rear seats are 60/40 split folds, which fold almost flat when needed creating a more than useable cargo area. It's not the biggest in the class by any means, but there is enough space, even with the seats up, to hold luggage for a weekend away.

Performance from the 1.8-litre 103kW alloy four-cylinder is on par with many in the class and the Corolla gives little away to its rivals in general around town driving. We drove the manual and our only criticism of the package was that the clutch lacked any sense of progression or feel, making consistently smooth take-offs from a standing start difficult. Toyota's stepped CVT would be my choice. Mechanical improvements have improved fuel consumption, with the official claimed figure for the CVT at 6.1L/100km, better than the manual's 6.7L/100km. On test over a mixture of mostly city conditions we recorded 7.9L/100km, a 0.6L/100km improvement over its predecessor when last reviewed.

Australia's bestselling car has been given an extra shot of personality without any massive price hikes. Changes to the interior are welcome and that's where buyers will appreciate this upgrade the most.

Quick Facts
Make Toyota
Model Corolla 2015
Category Small
Year 2015
Body type 5-door hatchback
Pros

Better quality interior
More intuitive Bluetooth connectivity

Cons

Lack of feel to clutch operation

Country of manufacture Japan
Available from 11-Sep-15
Priced from $20,790 plus ORC
Engine
Number of cylinders 4
Engine size 1.8 L
Engine aspiration Natural
Fuel ULP
Claimed max power (kW) 103 kW @ 6400 rpm
Claimed max torque (Nm) 173 Nm @ 4000 rpm
Transmission
Type 6-speed manual
Wheels
Driving wheels Front
Size 16 "
Tyres
Spare tyre type Full size steel
Dimensions
Kerb weight 1255 kg
Length 4330 mm
Width (including mirrors) 1760 mm
Seating capacity 5
Acceleration - Test results
0 - 100km/h 9.7 secs
Fuel Consumption
Claimed fuel consumption 6.7 L/100km

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