ROAD TEST: Toyota Corolla Levin ZR (automatic)
by Ken Walker
30th July, 2009
Road Tests >
Is this the most popular small car in the world? It may
well be the most popular, but not necessarily the best selling. The Toyota Corolla has been around for
over 40 years and many motorists have owned at least one of the many variants.
There are 4 hatchbacks and 3 sedans in Toyota’s current Corolla line-up. With prices (excluding
dealer fees and statutory charges) commencing at $21,490 for the Ascent Hatchback to $29,900 for the
Levin ZR with 6 speed manual transmission.
This time out the Next Car Team put the top of the line Levin ZR automatic hatchback through its
paces. The auto transmission adds an extra $2,000 to the recommended price making this the most
expensive of the hatchbacks. Only the Ultima Sedan is more costly.
All the Corolla variants have the same 1.8 litre engine, which develops maximum power of 100 kW at
6,000 rpm. Maximum torque of 175 Nm arrives when the tachometer reaches 4,400 rpm. Yes, Corolla needs
a lot of revs to keep it moving. Despite the high revs required, this package has vey good noise
suppression and was very quiet inside the passenger cabin. With a kerb weight of 1,330 kg it is hard
to believe that this package does the job so efficiently and without straining the power plant. Fuel
tank capacity is 55 litres and the average consumption (on the combined cycle) is said to be 7.5 l/100
kms of fuel (in accordance with the ADR 81/01 standard).
Driven through the front wheels via a four speed automatic transmission with a lock up torque
convertor the Corolla Levin ZR rides on 4 alloy rims sporting 205/55 R16 91V tyres with a full size
spare, albeit with a steel rim. Power assisted disc brakes all around with the front being
ventilated provide the stopping ability. Also fitted are ABS, EBD, BA, TC and VSC all of which are
highly regarded by Next Car. A front air dam (or spoiler), together with a rear spoiler help
maintain vehicle stability whilst touring the open road or on the freeways at the legal limits
(naturally). Power assisted steering through a rake and reach adjustable leather bound steering wheel
ensures every driver of a comfortable angle for their style of driving.
The front seats are supportive with adjustments for height, rake angle and slide. They are all
manually adjusted. Whilst a lot of the fittings require manual control, there are a host of things
that are automatic as well. Such as auto on/off headlights, auto dipping internal rear view mirror
and auto climate control air conditioning. Sorry, no auto wipers in this package though. Power
windows all around with auto down feature on the drivers’ window only. This package also has as part
of the remote entry and immobiliser, a keyless ignition system. A word of warning here, watch where
you put the key, the centre console near the hand brake lever appears to be fine, until the hand
brake is engaged as the key then falls into a cavity under the plastic trim. The hand brake itself
is difficult to use as, unlike most, there is no ratchet button on the end of the lever, but a
sliding push 'thing' affair. Elderly motorists suffering arthritis would find this task difficult
and uncomfortable. The centre console housing the gear quadrant is also an intrusive mass and houses
a difficult to use open storage area, but this may suit some buyers, however not me. After a short
time in the package, a feeling of confinement encroaches as this is a small car without any open
space or a sense of freedom.
Of the everything a car ‘should have’ there were 4 cup holders, illuminated vanity mirrors for
front seat occupants, storage pockets on all doors, map storage on the rear of the front seats.
All occupants have the use of lap/sash seat belts with height adjusters in the front. There is
also a storage bin for the driver to stow a pair of sunglasses adjacent to the internal lamp
Toyota offer a three year/100,000 km warranty on their Corolla. Their advertising indicate it is
the World’s Most Popular Small Car and it may well be that. And it has an ANCAP 5 Star rating.
However, the Toyota Corolla Levin ZR seems over-priced. It also looks like any other Corolla with
nothing to set it apart. There are a host of other manufacturer’s vehicles which offer more features
and better warranties at better prices.
The prices mentioned in this article are approximate and
are based on the manufacturers recommended price which excludes dealer delivery fee and the various
statutory charges. Drive-away prices are available from a Toyota dealer. As always, prices are subject
to change without notice.