How does the 2023 Toyota Corolla SX Hybrid drive?
The updated Corolla Hatch is a bit of a silent performer when it comes to its driving ability, and it’s thanks to that new hybrid system that we get some pretty spritely performance from about 0-50km/h, with a lot of the pep coming from the electric motor so torque is instant and smooth. That is, of course, when the tyres manage to actually grip the tarmac.
Unfortunately, when testing the car we had some wet weather conditions and so we discovered that the Bridgestone Ecopia tyres, paired with Toyota’s improved hybrid power train, really don’t play well in the wet. Despite the immense amount of wheel spin, we still managed a 0-100km/h launch in 10.6 seconds, quite far from the claimed sub-9 second launches that some have had.
When you aren’t launching the car or driving like an idiot, the Corolla SX Hatch now has quite a refined ride. This is due to the independent rear suspension which allows the rear wheels to articulate independently and therefore reduces the amount of pitch and vibration that makes its way into the cabin. This has a noticeable effect on comfort, which is excellent at this price range, even while driving on gravel we found that alot of the bumpiness was mitigated by the suspension, which is pretty impressive. Yes, it eats into boot space, but this is the price you must pay for comfort, in the 2023 Toyota Corolla Hatch.
The continuously variable transmission (CVT) is not an issue in the Hybrid, and around town the engine is almost silent. In fact it stays in EV mode alot of the time, then you take it on the highway and the 1.8-litre inline 4-cylinder engine kicks into action smoothly and quietly. Speaking of driving on the highway, the semi-autonomous driving systems on board seem to have been improved, with the lane centering working very well alongside adaptive cruise control, meaning the Corolla essentially drives itself on the highway. You can also drive in “one pedal” mode with regenerative braking, which recharges the hybrid battery through engine braking, though it won’t bring you to a complete stop.
Taking the car out to the back roads, you wouldn’t expect a mid-spec Corolla Hatch to be a corner carver but surprisingly, it handles pretty well. The steering has a nice weight to it with good feedback, and body roll is present but not really a problem. The front end feels pretty nimble and combined with the extra power from the electric motor, there is definitely some fun to be had with the new Corolla Hatch.
Overall, the level of road comfort, driving dynamics and safety technology makes this updated Corolla feel like a premium vehicle (if you look past the cloth seats), which at this price point is really something.