The new generation Corolla Altis has contemporary styling for the interiors and the quality is still top-notch. The space and even the features on offer is good and Toyota has upped its ante with the new Corolla.
Just like the outside, the new Corolla Altis also gets completely new interiors that offer style and functioning in the right mix. The dashboard is a mix of black, beige and metal finish. The twin pod instrument cluster is given a blue backlight that looks good in the dark and a multi information display in the middle. The steering wheel gets a hint of silver finish in the bottom and gets mounted controls for music and telephony. While the top of the dashboard is finished in black with the central AC vents and instrument cluster neatly tucked in, the middle gets touch of beige and hosts a touchscreen infotainment system with a carbon-fiber-like finish. The bottom of the dashboard again brings back the black and the AC control unit is made a part of it.
The features list of the new Corolla Altis include automatic headlamps, automatic wipers, reverse camera with sensor, engine start/stop button, 8-way power driver seat, touch screen infotainment system with USB, Aux-in and Bluetooth support, manual rear sunshade, remote boot opener, rear power sockets, rear reclining seats, backlit cup holders, driver seat lumbar and height adjustment. On the safety front, the Corolla Altis gets dual SRS airbags, ABS with EBD and brake assist, clutch start system, immobilizer, seat belts with pre-tensioner and force limiter.
The new Corolla Altis has grown quite significantly when compared to the outgoing car and it shows the instant you lay your eyes on it. And all of this growth seems to have gone into improving the rear seat space. While the wheelbase has increased by 100mm, the rear seat space has gone up by 75mm and knee room by 92mm. While Corolla Altis is already known for its rear seat comfort, the increased length adds more joy with the fact that Corolla is mostly a chauffeur driven car. And the merriness continues when you get reclining rear seats. The flat floor in the rear also means three persons can travel in comfort without the middle hump intruding. Front seats also offer great space and comfort with adequate lumbar and thigh support. The boot space measures 470 litres and can be increased with the folding rear seats that can also be split 60:40.
J: This variant is only available in the diesel. This comes with three-spoke steering wheel, black IP cluster, fabric seats, 60:40 rear seat split and even comes with ABS and dual airbags.
JS: This model is available on both petrol and diesel. It gets 5.8-inch touchscreen with DVD, mp3, aux and Bluetooth, 5.8-inch touchscreen with DVD, mp3, aux and Bluetooth and remove boot opener.
G: This variant comes in petrol manual and CVT and even diesel. It gets alloy wheels, leather wrapped steering and 7.0-inch touchscreen, front fog lamps, EC Mirror and reverse sensor.
GL: This variant gets additional features like 16-inch alloy wheels, electric driver seat, smart key with push start, rain sensing wipers and reverse parking camera.
VL: This variant gets navigation and cruise control as extras. The CVT also gets paddle shifts.
The interiors of the Polo are well designed and even the bells and whistles now on offer are good in the segment. It is only the rear seat space that is a bit of an issue.
The Polo might be the smallest of all Volkswagens, but the German manufacturer has ensured their current smallest hatch also has high quality interiors. The fit and finish of the plastic is amazing and even the look and feel of the materials of the good too. The Polo now even offers most of the features that other B+ segment hatchbacks offer. It has a new music system with SD card reader, Bluetooth connectivity, USB and aux connection too. The Polo also has steering-mounted audio controls too.
The front row seats are large and feel comfortable just like any other big German car. These seats are good enough for a long drives and one won’t feel tired either. The second row of interiors isn’t that spacious as the first row as the knee room is a bit too tight for tall occupants. The boot isn’t that large also.
The engines on the Corolla Altis are the same, and the Japanese automaker hasn’t upgraded the engines. The diesel is under powered and we wish it was a bit more powerful.
Though the new Corolla Altis is a whole new car, the engines are carried forward from the old one - 1.8-litre petrol and 1.4-litre diesel. The petrol engine puts out a maximum power of 138bhp at 6400 rpm and a peak torque of 173 Nm at 4000 rpm. While the engine will be available with 6-speed manual or a 7-speed automatic transmission, the test car we drove was fitted with the automatic box. The engine is very responsive and feels live all through the rev range. The power delivery is smooth and the 7-speed CVT automatic transmission sprung a surprise with its act. There was the rubber band effect that is commonly related to the CVTs in this box also, but what makes this one better is the way it has been tuned. Add to it the smooth working paddle shifts, the result is a drive train that wants to be revved.
The next is the famous 1.4-litre D-4D diesel engine that left us disappointed. It's an amazing engine and there is no doubt about it, but for a car of this size and segment. Putting out 87bhp of power at 3800 rpm and 205Nm of torque at 1800-2800 rpm, the engine is seriously underpowered when compared to its rivals. And the lack of power shows in the performance also with downshifting often needed while overtaking or going up the hills. The diesel engine comes with the option of 6-speed manual transmission only. While the gearbox has short throws and is comfortable to slot into, we need to keep it in range of turbo at around 1800 rpm when it kicks in or more to get good response. Cruising on highways in this engine proves to be a pleasant experience with tall top gears. The NVH levels are refined well and we can expect better fuel efficiency thanks to the weight loss of the new car.
The power produced by the Polo engines is good, but the petrol and diesel have some drivability issues, especially when you consider the gearing that seem to be designed for European market.
A new Volkswagen engine has been used on the Polo. It has the new 1.5-litre diesel engine that replaces the 1.2-litre and even produces 90bhp instead of 75bhp. This mill has a strong mid-range and high end. There is a lot of turbo lag and the engine needs to be revved above 2000rpm to reach the power band. The power produced by most of the competition including the Swift is a lot more linear than the Polo. Volkswagen has upgraded the engine for more power and soon the GT TDI will be available with the same engine but 103bhp of power.
The five-speed manual transmission has short throws and the box is slick. It doesn’t feel even a bit rubbery. The ratios are good for highway driving, while in the city one has to work out his way to extract some good performance. The fuel efficiency of this mill is good as the 1.5-litre mill from Volkswagen is extremely frugal.
1.2-litre turbo petrol:
This is the new 1.2-litre four-cylinder engine and it is different from the regular 1.2-litre petrol as that is a three-pot mill. This engine produces 104bhp of power, which is equivalent to the 1.6-litre petrol engine that once powered the Polo. The NVH levels are fairly low, except for cold starts when the engine is noisy. The engine screams as it revs above 4000rpm. Blip the throttle, and the transmission responds immediately, and at the time it shifts smoothly while cruising. This is an all-aluminium engine and it has been turbocharged as well. Even though the power produced by this engine as same as the 1.6-litre, it is the torque spread that is much better on this new engine. As even the engine is lighter and has a lower displacement, it is more fuel-efficient. With this engine, Volkswagen gets the duty-cut as the displacement is under 1.2-litre.
Another segment first is that it is a seven-speed direct-Shift Gearbox (DSG). The gear ratios on this box are tailored as per the Indian driving cycle for maximum utilisation of power. There is also tiptronic transmission, if you like to make those manual shifts. We sorely missed the paddles shifts. From what we learn, Volkswagen could introduce the paddle shifts at a later stage.
1.2-litre petrol engine:
The 1.2-litre petrol engine on the Polo has the same displacement like the diesel engine. This is also a three-pot mill that produces about 75bhp of power. This engine has good power and even the low-end torque is good. The mid range is strong and the power increases with the rise in engine speed. We aren’t impressed with the NVH levels as the engine is louder than one would have liked.
The five-speed manual transmission has short throws and the box is slick. It doesn’t feel even a bit rubbery. The ratios are good for highway driving, while in the city one has to work out his way to extract some good performance. But it is the fuel efficiency that hasn’t impressed us, as it returns about 9-10km/l in normal city driving.
The Corolla Altis has been made to drive from point A to B and hence it does its job well with good ride. The handling is mediocre, but it doesn’t have the alacrity like its European competitors.
The handling has also improved with a stiffer chassis and better communicating steering wheel. The light steering and clutch combination also assists in city driving conditions. The straight line stability is good but as the speeds increase on the highways, the steering fails to gain weight and provide feedback as much as we would have liked it to. Braking duties are offered by all wheel disc brakes, ventilated at the front and solid at the rear.
As we have already told that most of Corolla Altis owners will be sitting in the back, Toyota has tuned the suspension to aid them. So you get a softer suspension setup with McPherson struts in the front and torsion beam to the rear. This results in great ride quality keeping the car pliant across most of the irregularities of the road.
The ride and handling of the Polo has been tweaked for a perfect combination of both. The handling of the Polo is very nimble and even the ride is sorted, though it is wee bit stiff.
The Polo chassis has been designed for Polo Cup Racing and hence this design can take a lot more engine power and torque than what it is currently being sold with. The Polo chassis is extremely agile and the hatchback does handle well. The Polo is as good as any other Volkswagen vehicle when it comes to handling.
The ride of the Volkswagen Polo is also well sorted. The McPherson struts on the Polo are well sorted and ride is supple. The springs absorb most of the jolts and undulations the ride a lot more comfortable for occupants. The light steering wheel ensures convenient driving in the city and also tire-free long trips.