2014 Toyota Altis Grande: Test Drive Review

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I am sure most of you are very excited about the recently launched Toyota Altis Grande 1.8l. With the 11th generation Corolla Altis, Toyota has brought back the 1.8l engine so that it can be in the same league as its major competitor in Pakistan i.e., Civic. Not just this, but like always Toyota has this time even brought forth a new, unique and interesting feature in their car, the paddle shifters to drive the car in a sporty fashion for the true speed freaks. Previous example of Toyota leading in innovation is the cruise control which was launched firstly by Toyota in Pakistan.

I would also like to send forth a very gracious thank you to Toyota Southern Motors who invited me for a test drive of the new Altis Grande, after having seeing me with an interest in their vehicle.

Editor’s Note: This is not the official PakWheels review rather, a member’s review of his experience with the new Altis.

Exterior

The 11th generation Corolla is probably the best looking Corolla ever made in my opinion. I know there are die hard Corolla Indus fans (1999 model) but it must be agreed upon that this time; Toyota has for the first time made a Corolla which is a potential head turner. Assuming that everyone who reads this article has seen the new Corolla live now, I will now explain some details of the exterior.

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Starting off with the headlights; although extending too much to the sides but the chrome plating around the bulbs inside the light make them look very gracious and perfect for the car in every way. The level of detail exhibited by Toyota in the sense that the chrome grill continues on to the inside of the lights so it gives a better look is just extravagant ( I’m sure you will understand what I am trying to pinpoint if you look at a picture of the front).

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Talking about the sides now; because corolla have adopted a “fat car” look (didn’t know what else to call it), the sides do seem like they are missing something and feel a little bit out of proportion in comparison to the front and back. Perhaps the installation of side skirts like it was always done in the previous Corolla’s would have made it look even better but it seems Toyota did not think so. Or would add them later on as optional kits.

Another thing to notice about the side is that although the C style doors complement the car’s design but if you look at the space between where the rear doors end and the tail lights begin; that is quite small which makes the boot look quite unattractive (when viewing it from the side) giving a feeling like it’s been chopped off or something. Doing such a mistake even after increasing the overall length of the car is a major design flaw by Toyota.

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Moving on to the back, I have heard a number of different views on Corolla’s back side. Some people say it is the copy of the Japanese Toyota Belta, some say of the 2009 Toyota Camry and so on. And to be very honest I am sure you will also notice this similarity if you look at the rear end of the new Corolla now. All in all I will not say that this is in any way a bad looking car from the rear. The rear end might be a little less elegant than the front but it does give the car a complete look. The introduction of installing reflectors by corolla in the beginning I felt was a very bad idea because they looked horrible on the 2009 model but the reflectors on this one really do add to the beauty of the rear end of this car.

Interior

The major let down in almost every generation of the Corolla has always been the interior and it is with a heavy heart I have to say the interior of this 11th generation Corolla (namely Altis) is also disappointing when viewed in comparison to its Competitor in the Pakistani market. The interior although much improved than the previous model is still not upto the mark for a car worth 23 lac Rupees. The build quality of the interior is doubtful as it seems very plastic and not on the luxury side. But, this is the way for every car of the future. Cheap and lightweight plastic to aid in fuel economy.

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Flat dashboard design just does not give the car a luxurious look from the inside as a somewhat similar dashboard can also be seen in the Japanese Daihatsu Mira (a car less than half the price of the Altis). The steering wheel and speed dials on the other hand I must say are quite attractive. Also the installation of an android system in the infotainment system is something to be praised as it is very user friendly.

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One thing worth mentioning here is the back camera which is absolutely awful. And the steering mounted controls give the worst build quality feel in the whole interior.

Driving Feel and Performance

As you sit in the driving seat, the leather knitted steering wheel with the paddle shifters and the speed dials give you a very sporty look. The screen flashes warning for ‘fasten your seatbelt’ making you feel as though you are about to drive like a speed freak though it is not such an uncommon thing in cars abroad.

The startup and engine noise of this new model gives a calming feel but as you step on the pedal in a stand still mode and the rpm reaches 3000; the engine noise seems very over powering.

Also this model has lost that wonderful take off noise you can experience in the older Corolla (2009-2014 models). So as you put the car in D and drive off you immediately notice how light the car feels. The electronically powered steering is very light and the car drifts off in such a manner that you do not feel like driving a big car. This has both its pros and cons: Pros being that this will make maneuvering the car in heavy traffic very easy. The con is that, this makes the car feel relatively unstable on the road; something which is not desirable in a car of this stature.

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Moving on to the acceleration bit; but I feel I should explain about the transmission before getting on to this. As you all must know this car features a CVT transmission for a smoother, economical ride. This is the same transmission you will be able to find in a lot of Japanese imported Toyotas; such as the Corolla Axio, Vitz and so on. If any one of you have driven one of these cars before you will understand what I am going talk about now.

As you step on the pedal gradually, the car takes off in a very smooth manner keeping the rpms down, you will not feel any gear change neither will the car spiral out of control and go to a very high speed. During my drive on 4-5 km stretch, when I kept the rpm constant at 1500-2000 the car cruised very nicely giving a very light (but unstable in some manners) feeling as it reached a speed of 90 or so.

Now on to the part I feel most people are excited about; when I floored the accelerator from a standstill position the car did not give me a jerk like I was expecting to get. This jerk is one which most people quite enjoy as it gives a feeling as though the car is very powerful and ready to take off into the sky.

The main reason behind this is the CVT transmission which has never been a favorite for instantaneous acceleration. The RPM meter will show 3000-4000 but the speedometer will not be showing the rapid increase in speed. This is in general just a drawback of the CVT transmission; to reach high speeds in such a transmission; you have to give the car enough time and space to get into its flow and same is the case with this new Corolla Altis. The top speed I touched even after flooring the pedal was 90-100 which I felt was very disappointing for a 1.8l car.

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Moving on to the pedal shifters, one thing which I felt very nice about is that you can change down manually even using the shifters while in D so that if sometime you are stuck in traffic and want to overtake, you can easily de-shift the car using the paddles, get instant acceleration and easily overtake.

The car in manual mode was surprisingly very nice to drive using the paddle shifters as you have all the power of the car at your disposal and changing gears is as easy as just flipping a pedal. Hence this means the only fun you can have while driving the car is when you are using paddle shifters as they are absolutely brilliant, there is no lag while changing gears and you feel like the true powerful Altis is on your command. The cabin of the car is extremely sound isolating, no outside noise at all; the only thing you can hear is the rumble of the engine which is not at all good.

The vision from inside is also quite good from the driver’s seat so you could shift up and down using the pedals in complete comfort.

So basically my verdict is that if you want to drive a car which is the same as a Corolla Axio but with the added benefit of manual mode, you should opt for the Toyota Altis Grande 2014. The simple version of the Altis is that I feel completely useless, as I don’t think anyone will enjoy driving the car without the paddle shifters. Toyota this time has definitely stepped it up a notch but I will still say that Toyota has not come up to its major competitor’s mark in Pakistan.

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  • SHOAIB UZAIR

    Ok so you mean driving in D will be good for an old man and by putting it in Manual u can use it as a teenage moron (only if it is lowered)

  • Talha Malik

    good to hear your point of view and kindly someone asks the pakwheels management to get rid of signup using DISQUS as its a very disgusting and unfriendly feature.

  • Ahmed Hembel

    You said the disadvantage of EPS is that it makes you feel unstable at higher speeds, well, EPS hardens proportionally with speed so it makes you feel sturdy and that’s how it’s better than the traditional hydraulic steerings.

  • Tariq

    in my opinion 2014 model is the worst looking corolla ever designed.why the backlights are placed sky high and whats with the chrome grill??

  • Yea sir quest

    Very well written. Good article.

  • Sunny

    somebody please mention the low visibility problem. an average height person will never be comfortable in this car, as the dashboard is quite in the way of the windscreen.

  • MOIZ UL HASAN

    EPS is better than the traditional hydraulic steering, like you have said, is something that is universally accepted. Whereas, whether it makes us feel stable at higher speeds or not is a separate story to what I have to say here. In n attempt to make it concise, I feel necessary to,et others and you, Mr. Hembel, with all due respect that steering is the driver’s main line of communication with the car and I believe, after going through this article, that the system that has been installed certainly, needs upgrades(though quite late for it now) and lacks that touch of brilliance while so abundantly, offered by its major competitor. Plus, this one response or facet of the latest Corolla outweighs any of it’s other talking point after all, distortion in the guidance channel makes every other perception more difficult to comprehend. A true and sane-enough fan of any car would definitely, agree with what I have said earlier.

  • Ahmed Hembel

    You are agreeing with what I have said and at the same time, you are disagreeing by saying that civic has a better EPS system and corolla’s system needs some upgrades, right? I am not going into toyota vs honda stuff, I just wanted to clear the unstable factor thing.

  • Shaheryar

    As expected before reading this review, the writer sounds biased as always towards the civic.It was corroborated in the last lines of the review. I want to make the writer of review make this practical understanding that globally Corolla has always been in the forefront of civic in overall rating. It is due to this fact that Toyota Corolla is always leading ahead of the civic in terms of list of best selling cars in the world including the USA despite that people in USA are the richest in the world but yet prefer to buy Corolla than Civic. So please be impartial in your reviews

  • Ali Mazhar

    why are they not using maintenance free batteries?

  • Riaz

    A crap car, with crap interior. Poor reviews of people visiting showrooms to buy car. I with my two brothers rejected the car and decided to go for Civic. Dashboard of this new model is like Suzuki, Hiroof, stupid design with no elegance………..

  • Shariq Paracha

    I never said that corolla was not a better seller than civic, the only thing i said was as Toyota calls civic its competitor it has in no way reached civic’s mark whether it be in build quality, performance or just basic overall package. Talking about sales, is a different thing and i know even in Pakistan there are people who buy Toyota just because they have been buying Toyota cars for years. And if only you stop favoring Toyota, you might also see all the things i have said are pinpoint accurate regarding the standard of Toyota in comparison with Honda.

  • Shariq Paracha

    When you will drive the new Corolla, and i hope that is soon you will understand the unstable factor yourself.

  • Asim Zaman

    Dear Shariq Paracha… Can you please tell me how is the Cars Suspension on rough roads ?

  • Shaheryar

    Dear Mr Writer,
    Civic and Corolla fall in the same price tag category. If we buy your idea that Civic is better than Corolla in terms of quality, performance and overall package then anyone who buys a Corolla instead of Civic is not understandable.
    Moreover, according to Business Laws global consumer market cannot be considered as Naive or innocent. So if Corolla is better selling than Civic in the world, it means it is better than the Civic in overall ratings.

  • Shariq Paracha

    I am sorry to disappoint you sir but the first fact you stated is wrong. Civic and Corolla have major difference in price tags. As the top of the line Altis costs Rs 23,02,000 and the top of the line Civic with the navigation and leather interior costs about 26 lacs. I do not see how a difference of 3 lacs can put them in the same price tag category. Secondly i am not starting a Corolla vs Civic debate here. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, so are you. All i have written in the article is what i feel. You are more than welcome to bring forth YOUR observations/reviews and not quoting world statistics.
    Thank You.

  • Shariq Paracha

    I did not get a chance to check the car on a rough road as it was a test drive. I drove it on Korangi road in Karachi which is probably one of the smoothest roads in this city so i can not comment about the rough roads. So regarding your question i am sorry i am not able to answer it as i would not want to put forth false information.

  • Salman Chawala

    The unstable factor is the height of the car. The car has been too localized without taking into consideration good urban driving environment or highways. The car has been lifted for the rural roads which is causing instability. You will be able to observe when the car is parked with Old Corolla 242 L or any other imported Corolla. It has been raised so much that it is higher than the Honda City 2007. it has nothing to do with EPS

  • Junaid Abbas

    Toyota surely is the best selling car in the world, Saying that people buy Corolla because they have been buying for years, is stupidity, And in that case people have been buying civic shit for years so thats why they have been buying civic because civic buyer like shitty cars?right?, Honda wasn’t able to make civic to the point where Toyota made the Corolla to meet customer requirements , I have driven corolla 2008 model to 2013 model, And one thing is for sure , The CRUISETRONIC model is way better and has the best drive experience than civic latest models. At the end Truth is the truth, Toyota Corolla is the best

  • Shaheryar

    Sir, your comments are again impartial. Price of Corolla and Civic is almost same. Only top end version of Civic costs Rs 74,000 more than corolla which is insignificant considering Rs 2 Million Mark. Cost of accessories do not add up in price comparison as Toyota also offers extravagant accessories for Altis. Considering the repute of Pakwheels, posting biased comments may undermine the credibility of this website.

  • nadeem anjum

    on the sale of Toyota I must say no match of it even in remote areas and all Taxi stands it is much more then Honda, its drive is very good and smooth pedal shifting is normal comfortable and feels like a new drive and give good luxury touch.

  • Usman

    Its a CVT,so can i install a CNG kit in this car?

  • Muhammad Bilal

    If you want a Civic with touchscreen/navigation and leather interior you have to pony up more than 150K which will not only increase witholding tax but also registration and insurance costs. So please stop comparing Civic with Corolla as same-price-category.

  • Mateen Durrani

    If you Remove the Nav screen and leather seats from Toyota than Altis will cost 21.5 LAC which makes all the price difference. You have to compare apple with apple…..UG with UG,

  • Umair Ch

    ugly dashbord like 74 nd 76 corolla..upcoming city is more better.i reject this model coz of its ugly dashboard design. now am waiting for City ..

  • Ali Umair

    Agree with sunny about the visibility problem, how about the visibility for this master piece http://www.wowhdwallpapers.com/wallpapers/2011_honda_civic_si-852×480.jpg

  • hadis1

    if i may.wasn’t honda first to launch the cr-z first having cvti and paddle shifters?

  • Hamza Khalid

    and what aboout features bro!! does civic provides paddle shift , rear reclining seats , auto+manual transmission, and many more!!?? think about it . civic is just a show piece for good roads, it cant be driven offroad as corolla can!!

  • Riaz

    Dear I have seen the same Corolla in Saudi Arabia, it is much better than what I have experienced in Pakistan. Door joints, rubber seals, weld joints, paint work around weld areas, dashboard fittings and many more things were not as good as I have observed here in KSA.
    Honda and Toyota has no comparison as both have different breeds. Toyota can be compared with other models of Toyota. Honda is a brand for luxury and comfort, therefore not designed for poor roads.

  • Salman

    Sales of Honda Civic is more than Altis, don’t include Xli and Gli, as 90% of Corolla’s sold here in Pakistan are Xli, and Gli’s. And one can’t compare xli with civic, nor they belongs to the same price groups, but agree that for Pakistani roads, Corolla is better choice than Civic.

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