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Review: 2015 Toyota Corolla Altis 2.0V - The C-Segment Leader?

REVIEW BUYER'S GUIDE
Lingkesh February 22, 2014 11:14

The Toyota Corolla nameplate is well known worldwide. It is one of the best-selling models in history; with over 40 million units sold in 154 countries worldwide since its introduction in 1966. The latest iteration of the Corolla, which is currently in its eleventh-generation packs better looks and features than its predecessor. Here is a quick look at its specifications: 

Specifications for 2015 Toyota Corolla Altis 2.0V

  • Price: RM134, 341.34 (OTR price including GST with insurance)
  • Engine: 3ZR-FE 2.0-litre VVTi
  • Power: 145hp at 6,200rpm
  • Torque: 187Nm at 3,600rpm
  • Transmission: Super CVT-i with 7-speed Sports Sequential Shift
  • Safety: Driver and Front Passenger airbags, ISOFOX (rear only), ABS with EBD and Brake Assist, Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) and Traction Control (TRC)
  • Origin: Fully imported from Thailand

Overview

The 11th generation Toyota Corolla Altis aims to capture its lost crown as the best-selling non-national C-segment model, which currently belongs to the 2015 Honda Civic. Other competitors for this Japanese sedan include models such as the Mazda 3, Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra, Kia Cerato and Chevrolet Cruze.

The 11th generation Toyota Corolla Altis is sold here in three variants – the 1.8E, 1.8G and 2.0V. The entry level 1.8E starts at RM114k, while the top of the range 2.0V is priced at RM134k. The RM134k price tag is quite steep when considering the base 2015 Honda Accord 2.0 VTi costs just RM3k more. Besides that, some of the Japanese and Korean C-segment cars offer better specs for even lesser money. On paper this doesn’t look very impressive, but are there other rewards that don’t show up at the surface? Here’s to digging deeper.

Exterior

Styling wise, the 2015 Toyota Corolla Altis looks much sharper and aggressive compared to its predecessor, which should appeal to the target market it aims to capture. Features such as the LED projector headlights with integrated daytime running lights, five piece aerokit and 17-inch alloy wheels enhance the car’s athletic looks even further. We would even go up to the extent of stating it as one of the most handsome offerings in its category.

Interior

The overall interior design is modern and ergonomic, but one major let down is with the steering wheel. The leather-wrapped steering wheel is okay to hold on to, but somehow it looks cheap compared the overall cabin quality.

The top of the line 2.0V Altis comes with a DVD multimedia system with a seven-inch touchscreen display to keep you entertained all time, but do note that the navigation is offered as an option. Front and rear parking sensors along with the reverse camera makes parking easier.  Besides that, there are also other features that make living with it easy such as a smart entry system, an engine start/stop button and 60:40 splitting rear seats.

How does it drive?

The 3ZR-FE engine that lies under the hood of the 2.0V is not a powerhouse. The naturally-aspirated four-cylinder unit only outputs a modest 145hp and 187Nm of torque. Although it is carried over from the previous generation Altis, it performs on par with its modern competitors. At first, it might seem like the car is underpowered, but once you get use to the character of the engine, it can be driven as smooth as butter. At times the engine has to be revved hard to get the most out of the four-banger, as the power is concentrated at the top of the rev range.

The highlight here is the CVT gearbox, which we should say is one the best of its kind available today. It is tuned to make use of all the horses available efficiently by eliminating the sluggish feel that some CVTs are known for. It performs nice and smooth when put into D and when shifted manually through the paddle shifters, the shifts happen with rapid precision.

As the suspension is tuned to offer a comfortable ride you do get unsettledness when you hit road undulations during high speed. Besides that, if you are having a spirited drive on twisty roads, it can be pain as the steering needs a lot of input due to its slow steering ratio.

To sum it up, despite little flaws, the 2015 Toyota Corolla Altis offers a stress-free and calm driving experience.

How comfortable is it?

The suspension setup on the 2015 Toyota Corolla Altis is better compared to its predecessor. Even with low-profile tyres, the suspension does a good job in absorbing the humps and bumps well. Overall, the ride was comfortable and supple.

Personally, the driver seat just didn’t work out for me. I just could not get it to my sweet spot even after several tries. There is good amount of space for the front and rear passengers. The headroom and legroom for the rear passengers are more than adequate to keep them comfortable during your ‘balik kampung’ trips. Cupholders and compartments are also plenty to put your stuff. Boot space is decent enough to fit everything from your monthly groceries to luggage for your weekend family getaway.

How economical is it?

Throughout the drive, the trip computer showed an average fuel consumption of 11.3 km/litre, over a distance of nearly 300 km with an almost equal mix of urban and highway traffic.

Total maintenance cost over a 5-year/100,000 km period is RM4,460 (fully-synthetic engine oil package), excluding consumables like transmission oil, wipers, battery, tyres, etc. Service interval is every 6-months/10,000 km.

Conclusion

One area that this car lacks badly is safety. While most of its competitors are offering better safety features, all variants of the Corolla Altis only come with two airbags as standard. Elsewhere, UMW Toyota Motor offers a RM4,000 Additional Safety Package option, which brings the total airbag count to seven, but it is only available for the range topping 2.0V. The vital stability and traction controls are also fitted to the top-of-the-line model only. Therefore, those who are getting the lower spec Altis do not get much safety features for their money.

Overall the 2015 Toyota Corolla Altis is a well put together car with good design and build quality that can do what it is meant to do without any issues. Besides the good gearbox and handsome looks, there is nothing else appealing enough that can justify the premium price charged. No doubt the reliability will be top notch as any other Toyota products, but paying RM134k for a C-segment car? I will go for the D-segment Honda Accord 2.0 VTi by paying just RM3k more. 

Related: 2015 9th Generation Honda Civic Facelift Review – For Those Who Can’t Wait

About Lingkesh

Born with a passion for anything that moves, Lingkesh’s definition of a perfect weekend is going for a drive on twisty roads, in a stick shift car. He believes that all cars have souls and also everyone should be given a chance to drive on a race track at least once in their lifetime.

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