Space was never in short supply in the old Corolla, and there’s even more of it now, courtesy of the lengthened wheelbase and better packaging. From behind the wheel, the long range of steering wheel adjustment and a good amount of travel to the electrically adjustable seat means people of all frames won’t have a problem getting comfortable. And thanks to the large glass areas, visibility is great too. The seats themselves use foam that’s a touch
on the soft side and feels really comfortable. Spread before the driver is an all-new dashboard which ditches the T-shaped design for a vertical layout and imparts a feeling of spaciousness, but it looks a bit too block-like. To break the monotony, Toyota has divided the design into multiple layers of textures and shades. The black top surface is made of rich, soft-touch materials (but it reflects a bit on the windscreen) while the facia employs a light beige shade. However, on the lower bit of the dashboard, the overall plastic quality and finish feels quite patchy for a car that strives to be an upmarket luxury sedan.
A seven-inch touchscreen takes centre stage on the dash and apart from the climate control settings, every other function is digitally controlled through this interface. This means you have to take your eyes off the road and navigate through a bunch of sub-menus for pretty much everything. Luckily, the large audio control buttons on the steering wheel save the driver the trouble of hunting for the volume control. The aftermarket-looking, low-resolution display isn’t especially pleasing to look at and neither is it easy to read on a sunny day. Additionally, the tacky pseudo-carbonfibre panel surrounding the screen and the overall selection of fonts don’t do much to defend the near Rs 17-lakh price of our top-trim test car. On the plus side, pairing your phone and streaming Bluetooth audio is fairly intuitive and the audio system sounds surprisingly good. The cubbyhole just under the climate control console is especially useful to keep your phone in. All door pockets get bottle holders and there’s a useful XL-sized glovebox, but it isn’t cooled.
The Corolla redeems itself once you settle down in the rear seat. Legroom is simply superb and the reclining backrest makes it one of the most comfortable rear benches in the segment. It’s also easy to seat three abreast here as the floor is absolutely flat and the 136cm internal width means you won’t brush shoulders with co-occupants often. However, headroom is just about adequate and Toyota has skimped out on the rear AC vents — a risky omission while competing in a segment dominated by chauffeur-driven owners.
Between the two, the top-spec petrol still remains the better-equipped; even in its highest trim, the diesel loses out on basic kit such as fog lamps, navigation and cruise control. However, what’s alarming is the fact that Toyota has skimped on safety and the Corolla gets just two airbags even in its highest trim, which is quite unacceptable in a segment where four or even six is the norm.