Kiwis love the Toyota Corolla. It’s often the best-selling new car each year and is a very popular used-car choice, too. But how does the new Toyota Corolla stack up next to its older siblings? We decided to compare a 2011 Corolla with the latest model.

Our 2011 review car was a bread-and-butter GX model with classic manual transmission. It had no particularly dramatic design cues, but was good-looking from all angles. The new, 12th generation model has had its side profile tweaked with bolder, sportier styling and a stockier stance. The most polarizing differences are in the front and rear, with a wide front grille and a larger rear diffuser.

The interior of the 2011 Corolla is very practical, with everything exactly where you would expect to find it. The simple climate control dials feel like they’re mechanically connected to levers and flaps; there’s a very easy-to-decipher gauge cluster. Refreshingly, there’s also just one button on the steering wheel to cycle through the economy information.

As you may expect, technology has come a long way over the past eight years; the AM/FM radio and CD player is nothing compared to the whiz-bang capabilities of the latest Corolla. Today’s GX model features a prominent eight-inch touchscreen display, a 4.2-inch multi-info display and a six-speaker audio system with satellite navigation.

Performance-wise, the 1.8L engine in the 2011 Toyota Corolla develops 100kW at 6,000rpm. Our six-speed manual variant generated a respectable 175Nm of torque from as little as 1,800rpm; this essentially makes it an easy and forgiving manual car, even in heavy traffic or for new drivers.

The latest GX model has a 10-speed CVT transmission; it’s perhaps no surprise that no manual option is available for today’s Corollas. Toyota also now has a GX hybrid option to choose from.

Economy-wise, the 2011 Corolla’s fuel consumption is rated at 7.3L/100km but during testing we managed to achieve an impressive 7L/100km over about 50km of mixed driving. That’s just one litre more than the very economical 2019 model.

The 2011 Toyota Corolla we tested was a good, reliable car. It embodied the classic practicality that Toyota is renowned for. Later models have seen changes to its styling which may have reduced some of the practical aspects such as storage capacity, however the level of cutting-edge safety features on the latest Corollas are a big drawcard.

Reported by Ian Green for our AA Directions Autumn 2021 issue

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