2017 Toyota Corolla ZR Hatch road test and review…
After sampling the base-model Toyota Corolla Ascent sedan last week it was good to do a back-to-back road test of the Corolla hatch.
This time though it was up the other end of the 2017 Toyota Corolla spectrum – the ZR.
Prices here start from $30,020 for the hatch, add an extra $1,900 for the sedan.
Under the bonnet you get exactly the same 103kW/173Nm 1.8 litre petrol engine and the ZR, which seems to be packaged as the ‘sporty’ Corolla, only comes with the CVT auto.
So, essentially the same driving performance/feel as the Ascent, though the wheels and tyres are different and that gives both a positive and negative result.
Going from the base-model’s 15″/65 series tyres to the ZR’s 45 series tyres on 17″ alloy wheels you get a sharper steering feel but a noticeably firmer/less forgiving ride.
Which is better? Well that very much comes down to a personal choice.
The styling of the current series Corolla fits nicely with the ZR’s sill and bumper flares, along with those aforementioned alloy wheels.
The performance though, especially with the CVT, is only adequate and left me wanting more.
When pushed the engine also gets a bit harsh and noisy and really is no longer in its comfort zone.
Compared to the surprisingly roomy sedan, the Corolla hatch comes up short (literally!).
It’s significantly shorter (290mm) and has a wheelbase that is 100mm shorter than the sedan and this is really seen in the rear legroom and cargo space.
While perhaps the only really noticeable differences between the Ascent-grade and the ZR were the climate controls (I prefer the basic dial type found in the base-model), the inclusion of sat-nav and leather seats.
You also get heated front seats in the ZR and key in pocket central locking/push-button ignition.
While another difference between the sedan and the hatch variants of the 2017 Toyota Corolla is their origins – the hatch is built in Japan, the sedan comes out of Thailand.
One thing both vehicles share is the same infotainment system.
Again, I’m not a big fan of the lack of a volume control knob and remain concerned that some Corolla buyers will be less than enthusiastic about the ‘non tactile’ feel of the control buttons around the screen (including volume control arrows).
Summing it up; there’s not a great deal of difference between the sedan that I tested and this top-spec hatch in terms of the driving and ‘living with’ aspects of the Toyota small car.
Both are easy to drive, nicely put together and unoffensive in every way.
I prefer the Corolla sedan for the extra legroom and cargo space and felt that the small wheels/higher sidewall tyres provided a more pleasant ride and drive.
A note here for Toyota – If I were to opt for a ‘sporty’ Corolla like the ZR I would like a manual transmission, at least as an option.
However, with a five-star ANCAP safety rating across the range, Toyota dependability and backing and good fuel economy, again I can’t really give you any good reason not to have a Corolla on your small car test-drive list.
NUTS and BOLTS – 2017 Toyota Corolla ZR hatchback
Engine: 1.8 litre petrol producing 103kW/173Nm
Transmission: SCVT auto
Safety: Five stars
Price: from $30,020