Joel Helmes road tests and reviews the 2014 Toyota Corolla Ascent Sport.
The new 2014 Toyota Corolla is here and with it comes plenty of competition from other manufacturers looking to get a piece of Toyota’s enormous share of the small car market.
Interestingly, this new Corolla might be showing signs that Toyota is a little wary of some of the other models looking to make an impact and have thus upped the personality and life.
Gone, at least in the 2014 Toyota Corolla Ascent Sport, is the infamous dull, grey and basic Corolla interior of so many past models. In its place Toyota has supplied a more creative, fun and interesting interior that even benefits from almost exactly the same dash as the sporty Toyota 86.
The outside has also been given a much more daring look that strikes a good balance between being interesting and a turn-off for traditionally conservative Toyota Corolla buyers.
The 2014 Toyota Corolla range starts at just under $20,000 and continues through to the Ultima which gets a larger 2.0L engine and a $31,990 price tag.
The Toyota Corolla Ascent Sport starts at $20,990 for the six speed manual; a four speed auto version is available from $24,490.
I had the manual version to review and with 103kW and 173Nm coming from the 1.8 litre petrol engine I think this could be the better choice of the two transmissions.
The engine is more than willing when pushed above 3000rpm, around town however the 103kW limitation can be felt, especially when negotiating hills. If it had just a tiny bit more oomph it would be a much more pleasant vehicle to drive.
On a positive note fuel consumption from the Toyota Corolla is very good – 7.4L/100km in the city, the official figure is a combined 7.1L/100km.
The gearbox feels only Ok, while the clutch has a rather high pressure point and this takes a little getting used to.
On the road it has that typical Corolla feel – that means reasonably good suspension feel and adequate handling. The 55 series tyres on the 16”alloys on the Ascent Sport don’t provide a lot of comfort on cracks and potholes, the steering though is excellent.
As mentioned, the Corolla cabin has been given a major re-fresh and is generally more than adequate.
There is a fair bit of hard and dull plastic around the interior but at this end of the market that’s probably to be expected. Leg room front and back, boot space and head room could all be described as reasonable.
The gauges are clear and attractive in the Corolla, I like the simple three knob air-conditioning adjustment and the Ascent Sport comes standard with a reversing camera, cruise control, Bluetooth connectivity and power windows/mirrors.
On the down side the driver info screen is of the rather dated LCD variety, be prepared for an old fashioned key ignition in the Ascent Sport and satellite navigation isn’t available.
The manual version of the Corolla also requires you to push the clutch pedal in to start the motor, though beware the clutch has to be right down to the floor for the switch to engage.
Not surprisingly the new Corolla boasts a 5-star ANCAP safety rating and the green vehicle guide rating is an excellent four and a half stars.
Summing it up, the 2014 Toyota Corolla is a completely adequate vehicle that has a little more life and personality than most of its predecessors.
While it does face some stiff competition from some excellent vehicles such as the Hyundai i30 and Mazda3, with that Toyota badge on the front and sharp pricing it’s hard not to see Toyota selling this Corolla in big numbers.
NUTS and BOLTS – 2014 Toyota Corolla Ascent Sport
Engine: 1.8 litre petrol delivering 103kW and 173Nm
Transmission: Six-speed manual or four-speed auto
Safety: Five stars
Price: From $20,990