Toyota Corolla Altis 1.8 Hybrid Review
Everyday Fuel-Sipper

Words and Photos by Clifford Chow
20 Jul 2020

One of the details I do appreciate is Toyota’s willingness to include a full-sized spare alloy wheel in the wheel well, instead of a space saver, which has become the norm...

For years had always wondered why Toyota would not do a hybrid version of their iconic Corolla. Their mainstay compact offering was for the longest time the Prius, which has been very well received worldwide, and it even made its way to become the choice of transport for Brian of ‘Family Guy’.

Well, the Corolla Altis is finally here with a hybrid motor, and as far as econoboxes go, I am quite happy that Toyota have finally fielded one. We were quite impressed when we got behind the wheel of the regular Corolla Altis recently, and we would say that the Hybrid variant is equally impressive.

There are only a few giveaways that this is Toyota’s fuel-sipping variant. Namely its ‘Hybrid’ tags, and Toyota badges with a blue “glow”. Toyota has made efforts to style their 12th generation Corolla Altis with a little more flair. There is even a hint of Lexus and 86 in its form if you squint hard enough.


Interior quality has also improved heaps compared to the previous three generations of Corollas (I benchmark three, since they are all Thai-built). There are also more soft-touch materials on the dash, and with the upward tilt of the air-conditioning toggles which are closer to eye-level, and a good scatter of buttons on the steering wheel, ergonomics are very good.

Some differences compared to the regular Corolla Altis, are the omission of the mechanical handbrake lever in preference of an electric parking brake, a slightly different instrument graphics. The Hybrid also is equipped with a Head-Up Display, which is a welcome addition for a better driving experience.

With its 2,700mm wheelbase, the Corolla’s interior accommodates four adults well, and we like that the seats provide enough comfort even for longer journeys.

Cargo space, at around 450 litres, coupled with a flat boot floor and low boot lip ensures that loading, unloading and sliding your cargo to make space is easy. The rear seats do fold in 40:60 fashion for added cargo carrying capabilities, however they do leave a kerb, and coupled with the not-so-large aperture between the boot and passenger cabin, it will be a challenge for larger items to fit.

One of the details I do appreciate is Toyota’s willingness to include a full-sized spare alloy wheel in the wheel well, instead of a space saver, which has become the norm; or even worse, comfort-robbing run-flat tyres.

The Drive

The Corolla Altis is powered by a 1.8 litre engine, and its hybrid drivetrain; the latter which does the lion's share of the initial lifting in our heavy start-stop environment. This combination, together with its CVT transmission, is actually pulled right out of the Prius.

Power from the engine may be a paltry 97hp, while torque at 142Nm is acceptable. When combined with the Hybrid Drive, the Corolla Altis Hybrid puts out a respectable 121hp. Acceleration to 100km/h is done at a leasurely pace, and likely above 10 seconds, nothing big to shout about; however the fuel-sipping Corolla delivers its drive smoothly thanks to its CVT transmission, with the engine only stepping in after the car takes off on battery power from a standstill.

While the drivetrain is not intended for a spirited drive, it does deliver well enough for most of Singapore’s road and traffic conditions. Fuel consumption rated at a combined 22.7km/l can be attainable; that is if you are not heavy on the accelerator pedal, and know when to lift off.

Like the regular petrol model, the Corolla Altis Hybrid sits on a MacPherson Strut front and Double Wishbone rear setup. While it is tuned for comfort, it still takes well to corners and directional changes, albeit with a little bit of wallow.

Toyota Safety Sense (TSS), which adds an additional layer of active safety comes standard on the Hybrid model. Its Pre-Collision System, which utilises a millimetre-wave radar, and a camera equipped with shape recognition capability is designed to detect and alert you if there is any on-coming traffic, pedestrians or even cyclists, and will even deploy the brakes if you do not react in time. The same radar system is utilised when the Dynamic Cruise Control is switched on, which keeps you at a preset distance from the car in-front. Also in the TSS Suite are the Lane Departure Warning with Steering Assistant, which provides you with an audible and visual warning, followed by gentle corrective steering to keep you in-lane.

Our Thoughts

Personally, I find the Corolla a satisfyingly comfortable compact sedan to drive, with decent enough steering feedback and assistance. While it may not win any prizes in driver engagement, it is overall a pleasing experience.

There is a $16,000* premium you will pay for the Hybrid, over and the similarly-equipped Elegance model. Definitely not chump change for a car at this price point. You will need to be one who simply clocks plenty of mileage per year, and want to feel greener when doing so, to justify paying more for the Hybrid model.

Its competition is from the Korean duo of Hyundai Ioniq and Kia Niro hybrid cars, both of which are well equipped with kit, and cost about the same price, and are styled as SUVs. That said, this iconic sedan has plenty of offer, especially at the lower-priced end of Hybrid offerings here.

*Accurate at time of review

#Toyota #Corolla #hybrid #Roadtest #Cars #Autos #singapore #SG #CarReview #Testdrive #Sedan #Saloon #Altis

In Summary

We Like

Everything works well. Full-sized spare alloy. Satisfyingly comfortable. Handles well (especially for a bread-and-butter car). Major improvements in quality compared to past generation Corollas wins points here.

We Don't

Huge difference in price, versus the regular petrol variants can be a put-off.


Practical space and a pleasing drive are just some of the merits the Corolla Altis can boast of... and it handles well too for a bread-and-butter car.

Car Loan Calculator - Toyota Corolla Altis 1.8

SGD 120,888 (20 Aug 2020)

Based on OMV, this car is eligible for minimum 40% down payment

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Engine Capacity 1798cc
Engine Type Inline 4
Power 97bhp @ 5200rpm
Torque 142Nm @ 3600rpm
Power to Weight 68.8 bhp per ton


Acceleration 4.4s (0-100 km/h)
Top Speed 185 km/h
Fuel Consumption (combined) 22.7 km/L

Misc Technical Data

Drive Type FF
Steering Electric


Body Type Sedan
(L x W x H)
(4630 x 1780 x 1435) mm
Wheelbase 2700 mm
Turning Circle 10.8 metres
Kerb Weight 1410 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity 43 L


Brakes (Front) Discs
Brakes (Rear) Discs