Last Chance To Buy: Toyota Corolla

Shock horror, the Corolla has gone - in the UK at least. Essentially the subject of a name change, you can now buy yourself a Toyota Auris. Mind you, more than 25 million have been sold, making it the most popular model in the world - ever.

What's good about it?

Here it is, the family hatchback as utterly reliable domestic appliance. If all you want to do is go about your daily business, as economically and efficiently as possible, this is the vehicle for you. Despite criticism of the styling, this is probably the most handsome Corolla ever with purposeful, smart and not inoffensive looks.

Where it matters, though, this model scores very highly - being spacious, practical and easy to drive and own. And, as we said, this is the world's best-selling car and this Corolla is probably the best version of all. However, it is a bit pricey compared with the opposition, but you get excellent levels of basic equipment and a car built to impressively high standards. Where it matters, inside, the Corolla provides a decent amount of room for everyone.

Drivers have a clear dashboard and it is all put together with some very high-quality materials.

On the road, the petrol and diesel engines are all strong and effective, working well with the light and precise gearchange. Driving a Corolla is almost fun as it corners with lots of grip and has very positive brakes. What the occupants will like the most, though, is that all outside noises have been cleverly subdued and the overall ride is seductively smooth.

What's bad about it?

Nothing, really. Some think it looks dull and is still dull to drive, but that is only because all the previous-generation Corollas have been fairly dreary and they can't see beyond the badge. It is pricey, but you do get a decent amount of car and specification for the money and running costs are hardly outrageous. There is a saloon version that everyone forgets about, which really is a bit dull, like Corollas of old, but is just a hatch with a boot. No one has ever actually seen one, but apparently this boot is massive. The T Sport is not as sporty as it likes to think.

How much?

There seem to be a lot of supercharged, sporty versions around at the moment. Toyota dealer Currie Motors in Twickenham (08451 244 880) had a 2006 Corolla 1.8 VVTL-i T Sport with just 250 miles on the clock at £14,195, down from £19,282. For something more sedate and more Corolla-like, there are 1.4 Colour Collections through autobytel.co.uk at £11,895, which represents a saving of £895.

Any snags?

Like all Japanese cars, it is boringly reliable. With proper servicing it will last as long as all previous Corollas. However, in 2002 there were recalls over brake concerns and possible gearbox damage. Front passenger airbag worries arose in 2004, more brake trouble in 2005, and further airbag concerns in 2006, which is unusual for a Toyota.

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