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Old 21st July 2010, 17:41   #1
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Default First Drive: Toyota Corolla D-4D

First Drive: Toyota Corolla D-4D-1-1.jpg
What you will like:
  • Product quality
  • sensible, hassle free practical high miler
  • rear seat comfort
  • class leading mileage and refined engine
  • excellent close ratio gearbox
  • amazing bottom end and mid range performance
  • equipment levels mix in GL and base J models
  • After sales service quality
What you won't:
  • dull styling
  • inconsistent steering feel
  • harsh ride at rear
  • turbo lag below 1500 rpm
  • capacity limitation hurts top end
  • some features of petrol missing
  • can lead to the perception of being overpriced for the engine specs it offers.
First impressions?
  • Want a sensible and hassle free all round entry luxury diesel car? This is it.
First Drive: Toyota Corolla D-4D-1-22.jpg

Last edited by sidindica : 21st July 2010 at 17:44.
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Old 21st July 2010, 17:58   #2
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Introduction
First Drive: Toyota Corolla D-4D-1-13.jpg

If you are looking for 0-100 timings, torque bursting acceleration, drag racing or tuning, then stay away. This is not the car for you.
However, if you are a successful individual, looking for a car that does many things right and very few wrong, then probably you have got the right choice.
Talk Corolla and immediately the words-sensible, hassle free reliability and comfort come to your mind despite its built to cost engineering. Massive product recalls this year aside, many people have began to question its reliability but the fact remains that the corolla is single handidly Toyota's bread and butter model in japan and is consistently one of the world's bestselling nameplates.

With millions of cars roaming around the roads, its success story is no dfferent in India. Ever since its launch in September 2008, the second generation (for India and 10th for the world) has been a consistent success and been a segment leader in the lower D petrol segment.
So, comes the question-why a diesel?
Especially considering the fact that India is the first country in Asia and ASEAN/ SAARC to get a Corolla diesel, many skeptics would ask questions like is it a desperate attempt to fend off the competition? or is Toyota biting it off more tan it can chew?
The answer perhaps lie in shft of consumer preferences and competition.

Remember, India is a country where "average kya hai" remains one of the topmost priorities before purchasing the car. Think this and the word "diesel" immediately comes to your mind. High on purchase price yet fended off by torque, fuel efficiency and better resale value and you have a winner here.
This is the exact same reason why Toyota has launched the much awaited Corolla D-4D in India. Competition like Cruze, jetta and laura have been giving Toyota sleepless nights and Toyota had to do something to fend them off. This also demonstrates how important the Indian market is to Toyota (unlike now Honda which are still reluctant to get diesels...lol).

If the fortuner is anything to go by, then expect an earthquake a toyota showrooms with hordes of customers waiting to get their hands on theirs.
But is it worth the overall hype that it has generated?
Lets find out.

Last edited by sidindica : 21st July 2010 at 17:59.
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Old 21st July 2010, 18:10   #3
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The engine and gearbox:

First Drive: Toyota Corolla D-4D-1-2.jpg

The engine that you see in the pics is a 1.4 litre D-4D (direct Injection 4 cylinder Diesel), latest from Toyota's family of small diesel engines that powers many of Toyota Europe's successful cars like the Yaris, Auris, the Corolla sedan itself, base avensis and the verso derivatives of these models. Power comes in at a quoted 88.4 PS@3800 rpm and a max torque of 209 Nm@1800-2800 rpm. Powered by a small sized Variable geometry turbocharger with inter cooler, this engine makes for a perfect fit under the car's engine bay.

First Drive: Toyota Corolla D-4D-1-3.jpg

The way the engine is laid out looks impressive and uncluttered and makes it easy for service personnel to work on. A 2.0 version of the same is also available on higher end variants of the aforementioned models (bar the yaris) but to keep the price competitive, Toyota made sacrifices by installing the base version under the hood of the corolla. But don't the specs fool you. More on that later.

First Drive: Toyota Corolla D-4D-1-4.jpg

The transmission is a close ratio 6 speed manual which is perfectly tuned to complement the small engine and with limited power band and range, the quoted torque coupled with flat torque curve sounds impressive, at least on paper. But how does that translate on road?

First Drive: Toyota Corolla D-4D-1-5.jpg
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Old 21st July 2010, 18:12   #4
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One of the most anticipated car!! Even if Toyota runs full capacity, they probably can't match up to the bookings. Expect swift style waiting periods.
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Old 21st July 2010, 18:16   #5
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Wont 1.4 diesel engine be a bit underpowered for a car of this size???
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Old 21st July 2010, 18:21   #6
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A 90bhp diesel on a Punto sounds underpowered; I would surprised if the same/ something similar is on the Corolla.

I was really hoping for a more powerful diesel engine on the Corolla.
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Old 21st July 2010, 18:23   #7
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Underpowered is what I would say. Why do all manufacturers like to give underpowered vehicles for India.

One thing is sure. Honda will have to learn to survive only on Honda City sales as Civic is history now.

Quality of components used look top class.
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Old 21st July 2010, 18:24   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sidindica View Post
If you are looking for 0-100 timings, torque bursting acceleration, drag racing or tuning, then stay away. This is not the car for you.
However, if you are a successful individual, looking for a car that does many things right and very few wrong, then probably you have got the right choice.
That's the exact crowd which will make a beeline for this. Now, who cares if its a diesel rocket that cruzes All it going to matter is, how long I can run with same amount of diesel. Right?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Palio_2005 View Post
Underpowered is what I would say. Why do all manufacturers like to give underpowered vehicles for India.

One thing is sure. Honda will have to learn to survive only on Honda City sales as Civic is history now.

Quality of components used look top class.

Two main reasons I can think of is
1. Price
2. FE

Last edited by mjothi : 21st July 2010 at 18:25.
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Old 21st July 2010, 18:35   #9
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On the road:

A 1.4 engine in a big car?
Its easy to fend it off, but don't judge the book by its cover.
Start the engine, and the idle is clattery for a few seconds, then the sound reduces dramatically. In fact, such is the refinement that there is absolutely no hint or trace of vibration inside the cabin, neither on the gearbox, nor on the pedals, with a lazy 800-1000 rpm being shown by the tacho.

How does it feel outside when you open the hood? Find out the engine noise at idle in this video below:



Make no mistake, the engine may have just 1.4 litres, but mated to this car weighing 1280 kgs approx, don't expect it to be a tarmac scorcher, but rather it delivers its power in a linear manner. Engage first gear, and the car responds immediately to the throttle making light work in the city. Yes, there is turbo lag, but is not massive as it is made out to be. The bottom end response is almost like a Ford 1.4 duratorq, just a notch less. Turbo lag can be annoying while driving in second gear in bumper to bumper traffic though, with turbo spooling completely at 1500-1700 rpm to get all that torque moving.
But , this engine is just a delight to rev, I felt it more fun revving it even than a fiat multijet or a VW TDI. It sails smoothly till its 5300 rpm redline at idle, becomes very noisy but not that annoying inside the cabin.

To check out the noise at 5200 rpm revving twice, check this video out below:



This engine is tuned for bottom end and mid range performance, prime requirement in Indian semi urban and urban road and the engine dos its job with perfect optimization. Despite the lag, the engine can cruise at 30-40 kmph at 3rd gear at 1500-1700 rpm merrily where you had to downshift in a Cruze or the VW twins.
Perfect for start stop bumper to bumper Delhi traffic. In fact at moti nagar, the traffic was very worse and it was a perfect test for the car's tuning and boy, it didn't jerk or stall. Lateral acceleration feels a bit quicker than its time suggest and the engine can easily outperform a Linea. Climbing the Britannia chock flyover or cruising over the big Punjabi Bagh flyover, the car felt absolutely at home and had no problem climbing them, even at 4th gear!!!

Its over 120 where the engine starts running out of steam. It can rev beyond 4500 rpm with ease but the best way is to remain between 1500-3700 rpm where all its peak power comes to play.
Correct and intelligent use of 5th gear disguises the modest acceleration times (expect 0-100 in 15 seconds-amazing for a big car with a small engine plonked in), part atributed to its lower (for the segment and size) kerb weight and the car can easily cruise 3 digit speeds on 6th gear-again, very useful overdrive but only for open highway to maximize mileage. But for most of the purposes, driving in 5th is more than adequate and would suit drivers well. The car progresses slowly from 120-140 though, the cubic capacity disadvantage clearly showing.

Compared to the notchy gearbox of the petrol, the 6 speed manual is perfectly tuned and shifts with immense smoothness. Shifts are short and precise and the ratios are close for each gear to extract the maximum potential of the small engine. What Toyota really got it right is the calibration and tuning of the 1.4 engine with respective to the chassis and the size of the car and given the numbers it generates, it performs superbly overall.
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Old 21st July 2010, 18:49   #10
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Ride, handling and braking:

First Drive: Toyota Corolla D-4D-1-6.jpg

This is the area where the Euros will shine overall though. The corolla is known for simple point A to B transportation and will be a driver's delight. Same goes for diesel. Rains had deteriorated the roads of west Delhi and this was a perfect time to see the ride, such important for a car targeted at chauffeur driven owners. Low speed ride is much improved, particularly at the front due to beefed up suspension as typical on many front drive diesels.

Sitting at the rear, minimal jerks are felt and the car doesn't cosset you as well as the VW twins (jetta and laura) do, even if its better than the cruze. This is a lightweight Japanese car with a typical jap trait. But it dos not do that bad either like tossing passengers around.
medium speeds, again the ride actually improves at rear but only just. Tyre and road noise keep creeping into the cabin at sometimes but feels much, much better than the petrol.

Now, comes a twist in the tale. Higher the speed, the better the road inconsistencies are filtered out. Only crashing in large potholes, small and midsize potholes are fended off and at this level, it feels even better than the civic. the cruze marginally fairs better, even though the VW twins are in a different class. The ground clearance is not much a cause of a concern as the car didn't scrape an underbelly despite bumping over a large speedbraker under the flyover opposite to kirti nagar metro station.

handling has never been Corolla's forte and this will too feels like that. Steering is very light at parking and whatever the speed you drive, the wheel sometime feels disconnected to the chassis. While I didn't get that much opportunity to test the handling, it is just a docile handler. Like a typical Toyota sedan with lifeless steering wheel. the mass market will like its easy to drive user friendly nature.
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Old 21st July 2010, 18:52   #11
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Excellent review Sid. It does not come as a surprise to me about a big car having a small engine. Remember the NHC 1.5 that gave out only 77 bhp ? It never feels like a crawling snail though. The same applies in this case as well, just that this is diesel and much more fuel efficient. Keep it coming Sid !
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Old 21st July 2010, 19:02   #12
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Buying and owning:

Toyota has launched the D-4D altis in 3 trim levels:
  • J, priced at 10,95,000 ex showroom Delhi
  • G, priced at 12,95,000 ex showroom, Delhi
  • GL (leather) priced at 13,75,000 ex showroom Delhi.
While the market may perceive it to be overpriced considering the specification numbers from the engine, its actually cheaper and is ball parked at cruze, which is about 15,000-25,000 expensive. Still, the cruze has come additional features like a key less go and sunroof which the corolla dosn't have.

However, the "premium" that the corolla plans to command will be offset with industry best resale value in its segment, high mileage (21.43 kmpl as by ARAI), hassle free reliability that the corolla is always known for and decent cost of ownership plus durability.

But toyota has deleted power seats from all diesel models (which the petrol G and GL has),and the G model comes without fog lamps and electrochromic mirrors (the petrol G has). These two features are standard on GL model though.

But thankfully, ABS and automatic climate control is standard on all models. The G models gain airbags, high end 6 CD MP3 audio system with aux-in, steering mounted controls and a seperate remote for rear passengers, driver's seat height adjust, MID etc. GL gains front fog lamps, leather, electro chromic mirrors etc as additional features.

The car comes with a standard 3 year/1,00,000 km warranty and Toyota dealers in general have a sterling reputation for service quality, despite many dark sides after the arrival of fortuner.
The interesting part, though is to watch whether dealers will charge markups in case the car goes on a wait.
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Old 21st July 2010, 19:13   #13
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Summing up:

While it looks dull and may not be the best performer on the road, thanks to its puny engine on a big body spec, the corolla does have some surprises up its sleeve. It cannot be described, but an overall drive is sure to satisfy the aam janta who perceive the car to be underpowered.
Indian roads do not demand straight line acceleration or performance, rather they require low end torque and driveability, which this car is perfectly tuned for. In fact, for a typical Indian customer, it ticks many right boxes, the prime requirements of mileage, resale value, comfort, refinement and low plus medium range drive ability to the T.

Lack of top end highway performance, jittery low speed ride, dull handling and the overall image that it presents compared to the VW twins and cruze are perhaps its main drawbacks. For those customers who want all these, there are options.

Will it succeed? and will it create wait periods? Only time will tell, and I am still skeptical.

However, the big gamble that toyota has took with experimentation of launching a small diesel engine in corolla in India being the first asian country, it seems to have paid off. While the reactions will be mixed, this car will be a good long term marathon runner in the entry luxury diesel segment in India and toyota has got this one right.

(Disclaimer: the pics are of display car inside the showroom. Video from a silver TD car taken separately but not clicked due to its dirty condition.)
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Old 21st July 2010, 19:20   #14
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Some pics:

First Drive: Toyota Corolla D-4D-1-16.jpg
Diesel model gets a mesh gill and a deeper airdam as compared to petrol (below)

First Drive: Toyota Corolla D-4D-1-19.jpg
petrol retains the twin bar chrome grill. Over design is still bland and unexciting. But then the corolla was never meant to be brash or bold.

First Drive: Toyota Corolla D-4D-1-17.jpg
front 3 quarter view-the car looks impressive in champagne mica rather than the dull white pearl mica in petrol clicked above.

First Drive: Toyota Corolla D-4D-1-18.jpg
Projecter lamps (white) and washers standard on G and GL models. Panel gap between the hood and bumper a bit large, but the hood was not closed properly.

First Drive: Toyota Corolla D-4D-1-15.jpg
rear end same as petrol, except the classy and discreet D-4D badging at the bottom right corner instead of "1.8" in petrol.

First Drive: Toyota Corolla D-4D-1-14.jpg
rear three quarter is perhaps the car's best angle. looks mature and like a typical executive car, the prime target market.

First Drive: Toyota Corolla D-4D-1-7.jpg
The dashboard-good combination of colours, but can get soiled easily. Jetta and Laura have far classier interior plastics and feel more hard wearing.

First Drive: Toyota Corolla D-4D-1-8.jpg
optitron meters look cool and classy. They illuminate automatically the minute you open the door.

First Drive: Toyota Corolla D-4D-1-9.jpg
High end audio system with 6 CD in dash changer MP3 and aux-in standard on G and GL. 4 speakers plus two tweeters, along with a steering remote and a separate remote for rear passengers.
The base J model deleets the audio and remotes, but retains just 4 speakers though.
Sound quality is below par. 5/10.

Automatic climate control standard on all models, so the ABS.

First Drive: Toyota Corolla D-4D-1-10.jpg
door pads of high quality though fake wood looks garish and out of sync.
small door pockets but a one litre bottle will fit easily. The car has 2 standard glove boxes in all models.

First Drive: Toyota Corolla D-4D-1-11.jpg
power adjustable mirrors standard on all, retract only on GL and G. variabl speed intermittent wipers standard on all models. The GL gets auto headlamp leveling. J and G have manual control for this.

First Drive: Toyota Corolla D-4D-1-12.jpg
Power seats have been deleted from all diesel models, which was standard on all petrol models barring J. Fore and aft, height is all manual.

Last edited by sidindica : 21st July 2010 at 19:35.
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Old 21st July 2010, 19:29   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sidindica View Post
Buying and owning:

Toyota has launched the D-4D altis in 3 trim levels:
  • J, priced at 10,95,000 ex showroom Delhi
  • G, priced at 12,95,000 ex showroom, Delhi
  • GL (leather) priced at 13,75,000 ex showroom Delhi.
Looks like they have priced the diesels about a lakh over the petrols. The J version will be a superhit both in the fleet as well as the retail market. A lot of Innova buyers will now move towards the Corolla Diesel. Most of these cars will probably be chauffeur driven - so the smaller engine will hardly matter as long as the FE is great.

The Petrol Corollas will be worst hit in my opinion, followed by the diesels such as Cruze, Laura and Jetta. The Honda Civic will still appeal to a different segment - those looking for a great looking driver's car.

Last edited by JLN : 21st July 2010 at 19:35.
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