New Corolla Hatchback: Toyota’s Next Attempt at Affordable Sport?

In modern times, it might be a little bit strange to associate a Toyota Corolla with anything even remotely sporty. Corollas now are just the “Eh, it’ll get me from A to B” cars. They aren’t anything too special. Now, that might be changing…

Corolla Hatch 2
The new Corolla Hatchback, unveiled late April 2018.

Toyota recently announced the Corolla Hatchback will be replacing the iM Corolla for the 2019 model year, and it’s already clear that the performance of the new hatchback is superior to that of its predecessor. The iM’s 1.8 liter four cylinder engine was putting out a whopping total of 137 horsepower and 126 lb-ft of torque, keeping it well within the same realm as the base Corolla’s 132 horsepower. But the new Corolla Hatch is stepping up the powerplant game. The Corolla Hatch comes with a new 2.0 liter four cylinder engine (mated to either a CVT or six-speed manual transmission), putting out 168 horsepower and 151 lf-ft of torque. While this isn’t a massive jump in power, it does put it more in line with market competition such as the Honda Civic, Mazda 3, VW Golf and Ford Focus.

The Corolla Hatch isn’t just putting out more power; it now also gets a new and improved sport tuned suspension. That’s right, now you can buy a Corolla that doesn’t drive like it just wants you to take it slow and steady. Now you can book your little hatchback down some winding back roads and feel like you’re not stuck in, well, a Corolla…

Corolla Hatch 1
Toyota promotional image for the new Corolla Hatchback

Don’t misunderstand though, this isn’t in the same league as modern front-wheel drive hot hatches like the Focus ST and the Honda Civic Type-R, but we might be getting there. While there are currently no known plans to develop a Gazoo Corolla Hatch, Toyota’s chief Corolla engineer, Yasushi Ueda, has expressed a personal interest in making a hot hatch version somewhere down the line.

Even without a hot hatch version, this is a massive step in the right direction for Toyota. Throwing in a sporty and low priced front-wheel drive hatchback is the perfect compliment to their affordable rear-wheel drive 86, and will likely attract the attention of people (like myself) who want more affordable fun cars, instead of the bland cookie cutter sedans and crossovers. If Toyota maintains the Corolla hatchback right and keeps it built to be enjoyed and not just driven from A to B, they could end up becoming the go-to name for affordable Japanese performance and fun once again.

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