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Toyota Corolla road test (copyright image)

ROAD TEST:   Toyota Corolla Levin ZR  (automatic)

by Ken Walker

30th July, 2009

Home > Road Tests > Toyota

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).

Ken Walker with the 
Toyota Corolla Levin SX (copyright image)

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.

Toyota Corolla road test (copyright image)

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 fitting.

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.

NOTE:   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.


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