Toyota Corolla Altis 1.6 Elegance (With TSS) Review
Bread And A Little More Buttered

Words and Photos by Clifford Chow
10 Mar 2020

Amidst tighter competition, Toyota reintroduces the venerable nameplate. The 12th generation Corolla, presents a sportier silhouette, very much in-line with their commitment to produce cars which will excite. Excite... I’m not too sure, but the new Toyota compact sedan is quite a notable improvement, compared to the previous model.

Ah yes! It’s back! The Toyota Corolla is the car that almost single-handedly put the Japanese automotive giant on the map, before cooler offerings, like their Celica, and Cressida; followed by the Camry became household names of their own.

Just a short ten years ago, the compact sedan was still king. However, with the rise in popularity of SUVs, together with many new (and affordable) alternatives, it is a challenge for the likes of the Toyota Corolla, Mazda 3 Sedan and Honda Civic to earn a piece of the middle-class customer pie. Nissan has no new sedans to show, and the Mitsubishi Lancer made a quiet exit.

Amidst tighter competition, Toyota reintroduces the venerable nameplate. The 12th generation Corolla, presents a sportier silhouette, very much in-line with their commitment to produce cars which will excite. Excite... I’m not too sure, but the new Toyota compact sedan is quite a notable improvement, compared to the previous model.

Styled with a little more dynamism, the new Corolla Altis channels a little bit of Lexus in its front bumper design. A character line, which begins with just a hint from the front end, grows in prominence across the side sheet metal, and visually lifts its rear haunches subtally. A flat roofline, lends to the low and sleek stance of the compact sedan. There is also a hint of 86 that comes with the sculpting of the tail lamps and bootlid.


Toyota has taken efforts to add a little more soft touch plastics to the Corolla’s dashboard. You will however still encounter a few hard surfaces, which can feel a little cheap. The Elegance model is equipped with an driver’s side electric seat, although there are no programmable memory presets. The steering wheel adjusts for rake and reach, and finding that ideal driver’s position is as easy as pie. Overall ergonomics is very good, and switches and buttons feel like they are built to last.

Toyota had opted this round to have the infotainment screen sit proud on the dash, instead of being installed inset, making for an easier read. The 7” touchscreen is rather tiny by today’s standards, but it does the job well enough. The system boasts Bluetooth connectivity, and T-Link, which is their mobile device mirroring firmware. While the system may not be perfect, it is a good-to-have feature. New too is a 6.4” instrument display, flanked by analogue dials.

With a wheelbase 2,700mm, legroom at the rear is generous enough for average height adults. While there is sufficient headroom, the lower roofline does reduce this by a little.

Cargo space upwards of 450 litres, and a flat boot floor, and a low-enough boot lip, makes organising and loading of gear into the compact sedan an easy job. Rear seats fold in 40:60 fashion, however they do leave a curb, which reduces the size of the actual aperture between the boot and the interior. Thankfully, Toyota has paid more attention to the boot mat; this one stays in place, the previous one slid easily with just a touch. A big plus to those who like some added peace of mind motoring, is the full-sized spare tyre, complete with a matching alloy.

The Drive

A 1.6 litre inline four, with Toyota’s famed Dual VVT-i technology powers the Corolla Altis, producing 129bhp, and 159Nm. Drive is provided to the front wheels via a CVT transmission. Delivery is linear, and smooth, and the engine performs in a hushed manner if you are not lead-footed. Rev it past 3,500rpms, and that four-cylinder does get quite vocal, with the CVT making way for the engine to spin up. There are however some notable improvements to their transmission’s behaviour, virtual gear changes (which are not necessary) are less notchy, or even non-existent, depending on how hard you drive the car. Combined fuel consumption figures from the manufacturer is listed as 15.6km/l, we managed a more humble 12.5km/l.

With the suspension tuned with a lean towards comfort, ride quality is pliant, however thanks to its new double wishbone rear setup, it does take more to unsettle the car. For what it is intended for, the Corolla Altis is reasonably well planted around the bends, but we can vouch that it will not provide an exciting driving experience… it does however check the “Can it handle?” box well enough for most average drivers.

The Elegance model’s 17” rims with 225/45R17 tyres provides a good level of comfort (the Standard trim model is equipped with easier-on-pocket 205/55R16 tyres), though there is some road noise which does intrude into the cabin, together with some wind noise.

Living with the Corolla Altis Elegance is certainly very easy, with your driving experience enhanced with automated headlamps and auto rain sensing wipers. The party trick to the Elegance model is its Toyota Safety Sense (TSS), a suite of active safety systems, which includes pre-collision and lane departure warnings with assistance. Dynamic Cruise Control, which helps to maintain a pre-set following distance from the vehicle in-front is a plus, especially given our highway traffic, which can slow down into a crawl.

Our Thoughts

While there are more options to choose from in the current-day market, the Corolla Altis might be the back-to essentials compact sedan we need, if we are not willing to spend that extra coin, or to compromise on passenger accommodation.

Safe choice it may be, but it is a satisfying drive, that will not disappoint.

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In Summary

We Like

Improvements in quality makes the all-new Corolla Altis more appealing. Smooth, comfortable riding and relaxing to drive. Styling has its appeal, even for an econobox. Full-sized spare with alloy.

We Don't

Some cheap plastics mar a somewhat pleasant interior. Road and wind noise intrudes into the cabin a little too much for my liking. Infotainment screen is small.


Sensible buy for those who would not want to shell out the extra coin for something As You Vee.

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