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Toyota Corolla engines, driving and performance

How does the Toyota Corolla drive?

As an easygoing small family car, the Toyota Corolla needn't be the last word in sporty handling. Despite this, the steering is intuitive and accurate, always sending the car exactly where you point it without any hassle. Body control is also excellent and even big bumps fail to dislodge the car from its line through a corner.

The pedal responses are reliable and predictable, too. You never get any unpredictable lurching from the powertrain as it works out whether to use the engine or the electric motor, and there's no inconsistency in the brake-pedal feel as you swap from regenerative braking to the regular brake discs.

Is the Toyota Corolla comfortable?

The Corolla's mature handling is well judged against its ride quality. There's no wayward wobbling through quick direction changes, but the overall ride leans towards comfort, with the suspension set up to flow with bumps in the road, rather than pummel them into submission.

Cars with the smallest 16-inch alloy wheels also do a great job of filtering out rough road surfaces, although you will start to feel some minimal vibrations if you choose a higher-spec Corolla with larger wheels.

What’s the best Toyota Corolla engine to get?

There's just two full-hybrid engines available for the Corolla. Neither can match the few-dozen miles of electric range you'll get in a plug-in-hybrid car but, on the plus side, there's no faffing around with cables to worry about, making this a much better option if you don't have easy access to EV charging.

The entry-level 1.8-litre petrol hybrid has 122hp, which we'd describe as 'enough'. Around town, the responsive electric motor makes for relaxing progress, but you'll start to notice the lack of oomph if you put your foot down to join a fast-moving motorway. The CVT automatic gearbox also causes the revs to flare when you floor it, somewhat undermining the hybrid engine's overall quietness. Updates in 2023 brought more power to the 1.8-litre engine, going some way to solving these issues.

Our preferred choice is the 2.0-litre hybrid. Not only does the petrol engine have more power, helping it feel more relaxed at motorway speeds, but the hybrid motor is also stronger, which makes low-speed acceleration around town feel much more insistent. It's not quite fast enough to be described as 'fast', but there's more than enough performance that the 2.0-litre feels relaxed in almost all driving situations, while still returning impressive mpg figures.

Toyota Corolla performance

With hybrid engines being the only choice, performance clearly isn't top of the Corolla's agenda. The 1.8-litre model takes around 11 seconds to cover the 0-62mph run, and can feel a little strained if you ask for maximum acceleration at higher speeds.

The 2.0-litre is quite a lot better in this regard, with the same 0-62mph benchmark completed three whole seconds faster than the 1.8. It's not quick enough to worry genuinely sporty hatchbacks, but has enough power to feel relaxed at all speeds and mostly avoid the flaring revs you get when you bury the smaller engine's throttle.

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