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"This is a Corolla designed and built to deliver a level of excitement and engagement not seen before. For me, Prius c was cool, the 86 was fun, but every aspect of the Corolla is about passion." - Neeraj Lala, General Manager of Product Planning, November 2012
When all is said and done, Corolla is Toyota's bottom line. There is nothing that defines the company's spirit, heritage, strength and confidence like Corolla.
And the 11th generation of the world's best-selling car needs to not only meet global customer expectations; it needs to exceed them in every single area.
The 2013 Corolla hatch range revolutionises what has gone before. In terms of its sportier design and more aerodynamic profile, its sharper on-road agility and performance and its premium quality and passenger comfort, Corolla hatch offers a far more dynamic package all round.
The new line-up expands from two to four models for 2013, with the introduction of the Levin nameplate to New Zealand's model offering for the first time; sporty Levin SX and prestigious Levin ZR join the established GX and GLX grades in a completely revitalised range.
The Levin name (an Old English word meaning 'lightning') is one steeped in Toyota heritage, having been affixed to top Corolla models in the Japanese market since the 1970s.
"There's an attention to detail and a feeling of passion that's been built into Corolla," says Toyota New Zealand General Manager of Product Planning, Neeraj Lala. "We really do believe that this passion is something our customers are going to recognise and appreciate in this car."
The idea of passion where Corolla is concerned is something felt right throughout Toyota, especially at an engineering level. Hiroya Fujita, Chief Engineer on the Corolla hatch planning group develops this idea further with the Japanese concept of "Wakudoki".
"My first thought in the development of this new model was to provide customers with 'Wakudoki'; in other words, a strong surge of excitement," says Fujita. "I envisioned compact hatchback customers would feel 'Wakudoki' if the vehicle exceeded their expectations in every way by offering reliability, quality, safety, fuel efficiency and a sensory performance that no other competitor can match."
The 2013 Corolla hatch incorporates an entirely new design language, boasting a more contemporary look; sleek, newly developed headlights and a wider, sportier grille gives way to sculptured character lines down the car's flanks.
Flared front and rear fenders give the car a sportier look in all grades, and the rear lamp clusters connect with the window design as well as providing a seamless, sophisticated conclusion to the car's character lines. All models in the range also boast an integrated roof spoiler.
From the entry GX right through to range-topping Levin ZR, a heightened sense of premium quality is instantly recognisable in the new Corolla's cabin.
Stylish metal accents across the centre console and revised dials and multi-information displays, as well as a fully redesigned climate control interface underline the efforts to improve on quality.
A greater emphasis on horizontal surfaces across the dashboard gives a sense of width and spaciousness. The driver-focused cockpit is offset perfectly by passenger space boasting more room than before.
Similarly there is more legroom in the rear thanks to slimmer seat back design, along with a more usable luggage area capacity than in the previous generation car. The dash and many other interior components now incorporate a soft touch design.
New Corolla is longer and lower than its predecessor, with a lower centre of gravity. It's lighter too, meaning the driver will enjoy a sharper, more responsive experience behind the wheel, but will also see an improvement in fuel economy and emissions (down to just 6.6L/100km and 152g/km respectively for CVT-equipped models).
"This year has been a fantastic one for Toyota product," says Neeraj Lala. "We've launched the cool and quirky Prius c, the versatile Prius v, and the undeniably spectacular 86. Now the new Corolla hatch joins the Corolla wagon; it's a car we're very passionate about."