It’s taken Toyota quite a long time to come up with a really desirable looking family hatch but the current generation Corolla gets as close to it as the Japanese brand has ever managed. This Touring Sports estate model sits on a slightly longer wheelbase than that hatch but shares all the same full-Hybrid self-charging electrified engineering. These days, Toyota has a couple of self-charging hybrid units available for its compact models, a 1.8-litre powertrain putting out 120bhp and a preferable 2.0-litre engine offering 178bhp. As usual with full-Hybrids from the brand, both powerplants are mated to a belt-driven CVT automatic transmission with six virtual speeds.
If you’re choosing this hybrid model in preference to a diesel, you’ll be amazed at the refinement and the smoothness of the power delivery. The 2.0-litre derivative is also reasonably rapid, getting to 62mph in around 8 seconds. You can even take on slightly rough tracks if you opt for the SUV style ‘TREK’ variant at the top of the range, which has a slightly higher ride height.
Inside up-front, the cabin is a lot smarter than that of the previous Auris Touring Sports model, with better quality materials and an 8-inch ‘Toyota Touch 2’ centre dash display complete with a reversing camera. There’s comfortable space for a couple of adults on the back seat and a reasonably-sized boot, which is 598-litres in the 1.8-litre variant or 581-litres with the 2.0-litre model. Fold the rear backrest and with both derivatives, you get 1,591-litres of space and 1,860mm of load space length.
WLTP running costs of course are exemplary: for the 1.8-litre model on 16-inch wheels, you’re looking at up to 62.8mpg on the combined cycle and a CO2 reading of up to 101g/km. For the 2.0-litre hybrid Touring Sports variant, the figure on the combined cycle is 57.6mpg with base spec.
There’s a choice of five spec levels for the Corolla Touring Sports – ‘Icon’, ‘Icon Tech’, ‘Design’, ‘Excel’ and ‘TREK’. All are pretty generously equipped. Even with the base ‘Icon’ derivative, you get automatic LED headlights, a reversing camera, 16-inch alloy wheels, heated front seats and dual zone air conditioning. Media tech is taken care of by an 8-inch centre dash ‘Toyota Touch 2’ screen which includes ‘Apple CarPlay’ and ‘Android Auto’ smartphone-mirroring. Camera safety is also a strong point thanks to the included package of ‘Toyota Safety Sense’ features. These include automatic high beam, autonomous braking, ‘Lane Tracing Assist’, adaptive cruise control and ‘Road Sign Assist’.
As mentioned earlier, the Corolla Touring Sports is the only self-charging full-Hybrid compact estate in the segment, but if you’re prepared to be flexible, there are various other options. Ford offers a mild hybrid version of its Focus Estate with a 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine mated to a very small lithium-ion battery which marginally improves fuel and CO2 figures – though not to the same extent as can be managed by this Toyota. And you’ll also find mild hybrid tech in models like the Hyundai i30 Tourer and the Kia Ceed Sportswagon.
The Corolla Touring Sports offers a unique package in its class. And makes it very difficult to justify choosing a diesel if you’re looking for a compact estate of this kind.