An owner’s take on the Toyota Corolla Altis Grande 6 speed M/T

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INTRODUCTION

The Toyota Corolla 2014 was the most awaited car of this year. The internet was full of Corolla photo’s from around the globe and everyone was confused what Toyota Indus had to offer to the Pakistani market. Gradually, the time came closer and news from many sources started leaking until the day it was finally confirmed and launched.

No doubt, Toyota stunned the automobile community with its latest Corolla. Classy exterior, a totally changed and rather unconventional interior with many add-ons for the flagship variant. The engine choice, well, they couldn’t change that due to the current consumer preferences, so they remained the same. The 1.3, 1.6 and 1.8, all are offered in both manual and automatic transmission. However, the flagship came with a choice of 6 speed manual or a 7 speed automatic CVT-i transmission with paddle shifters.

I, like all the other car freaks out there, was impatient to sit inside and drive one, so I went to my local Toyota Dealership to test drive the car. Well, this might be a coincidence but it was that time of the decade when we had to change our family car because the old one had given up on us and we had to do it fast. So, just a quick sit in and a little drive, and I chose the Altis Grande 6 speed version in Medium Silver color as our next car for a few years. This review then, is not from any dealership Altis, but of my own car which has now done 2700 kilometers at the time of driving this review. I hereby solemnly swear that the review won’t be biased just because I’ve spent 2.2 million rupees on the car.


EXTERIOR

The exterior is different. Despite having the essence from the previous Corolla, it is an overall good looking car and the majority agrees to it. The front design is splendid. I just love the way the chrome garnish matches with the headlights. It seems like they are a single piece. The rear, being entirely different looks gorgeous and fulfills the requirements of a modern sedan. The only ONE serious matter with which Toyota went full bonkers is the ride height.

So, despite the height issue, It’s safe to say that this corolla is one of the best-looking cars available in the local market today.


INTERIOR

The moment you get in the car, you see door panels inspired from the Toyota Land Cruiser 200 and the closer you look, you feel good from the inside. You put the key in the ignition and that’s where you feel bad. The keys won’t fit in the first time. It feels like you’re putting the wrong key but then, it suddenly fits. You turn the switch; the car welcomes you and starts. The cabin is very quiet; the outside noises are very low. That means a very fine fitting of the noise reduction items which include the door rubbers.

The quality of the plastic is average. In my car, it looked good for a few days but then it started turning a bit white which meant it had to be treated with interior plastic conditioners. The leather on the seats is just fine. Not too good. The overall feel is good. Better than the old versions.

The Toyota Prado inspired speedometer is lovely. The details given are also very impressive. You can choose between the average consumption display and the cruising range. It also displays warning messages like if the moonroof is left open when the ignition is turned off.

Coming to the in-car entertainment system, it is an Android powered multimedia system which supports USB, MMC, WiFi, Bluetooth, and Aux. It powers a 4 speaker system which actually is not good at all. No audiophile would want to hear them playing music for the second time and get them replaced as soon as possible. The Android system actually is a generic Chinese Android tablet fitted in the dash of the car. I’ve downloaded and installed all the basic games like Angry Birds, Temple Run and apps like Facebook, Skype, etc.

The audio controls on the steering have the option of volume control, track seek and mute or hold and answer a call, if you’ve connected your phone. Not too much but in a PKDM, something is better than nothing. The entertainment system is touch controlled with shortcut’s on the dash as well, but the touch isn’t quite impressive and very hard to use while you are driving. There is a remote controller as well. The only perfect feature is the Sygic navigation system which has very detailed maps for Pakistan.

The rear leg space is also far better than the previous one. Despite looking smaller in size than the older version, the latest Corolla is more spacious from the inside. Also, the rear seats can be reclined to make more storage space in the boot.

The interior is very well lit. There are a total of 7 interior lights which includes 2 for the driver and passenger side vanity mirrors, 2 front spot light, 2 in the rear and one in the middle which operates with the door locking and ignition.


DRIVE

Now, we’ll move towards the drive. The 6-speed manual gearbox is not confusing at all, like many of us believe it would be. The first 5-gears are placed like any other 5-speed car. The 6th gear is at the place where the reverse gear is usually found on any 5-speed car. The first gear and the reverse gear are in the same place. You life the ring under the gear knob and put the car in the first gear position to engage the reverse gear.

The 1.8 engine is pretty quick, but it lacks low-end torque. The mid and high ranges are quite impressive. The acceleration is good, just floor the pedal and the car would keep on accelerating until you want it to, without any embarrassment. Toyota Corolla and its brakes are notorious, but the brakes on the Toyota Corolla 2014 are pretty good as they come equipped with ABS and EBD. They are a little scary if used at high speeds due to the ride height. The rear end actually feels like lifting off the ground whilst braking hard. Same is the issue with turning the car at a high speed.

All of this is because of the higher centre of gravity (Physics 101) . The car gets highly unstable at speeds exceeding 120 km/h. The driver can easily feel the instability aka ‘bubbling’. It’s partially because of the truck height it has and partially because of the very poor tyres it comes equipped with. So, it’s safe to say that the driver feels uncomfortable after exceeding the highway speed limit. Now, many of the people would be saying that this is not an issue because it is not a racecar and why drive it fast, but that’s not the point here. A car should be stable at all speeds it is capable of attaining.The fuel consumption of this car is like all the other 1.8 manuals in urban areas. There’s no such road here which allows you to shift to the 6

The fuel consumption of this car is like all the other 1.8 manual cars in urban areas. It can give you a mileage of 12-13 km/l easily. There is no such road here which allows you to shift to the 6th gear, so that gear is dedicated to the highway drives. That is where the car would unleash its mileage potential. The maximum I’ve achieved yet is 16 km/l on the Motorway (M2). I have a relatively heavy foot so those with light foot on the pedal, there’s good news. It can give more than that if driven gently.

The clutch release is very soft and gentle, though it took me days to get used to it. The steering wheel is very light and responsive, I just love the way it turns so easily but I don’t like the way it vibrates at higher speeds. Half of the instability and vibration problems can be solved by getting the tires changed to some decent brand such as Yokohama or Dunlop.


VERDICT

My verdict, on the Altis Grande manual is clear. I prefer it above the the traditional rival, the Honda Civic. It’s not just because that it is the latest good looking car, but, it’s because the fact that the Toyota Corolla is a tough car. Having a lot of relatives in rural areas means frequent visits to those places and Corolla is the perfect car for bumpy and uneven roads. In urban areas, the car fits in the environment. This particular model has changed the peoples’ view of Corolla being the ultimate ‘rent a car’, even though it still is one. So, if you’re looking for a tough and reliable car without compromising upon your image or status, then the Altis Grande is the car for you.


GALLERY

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Fahad Mehmood

Fahad Mehmood is an ardent car enthusiast and a photographer by profession. He's been an active PakWheels member since the beginning. When he's not writing about cars, he's shooting people and things with his camera. He hopes to go viral one day.

  • Haida Kay

    Superb review.. I totally appreciate your effort brother. New Altis Grande is indeed a beauty & Your ride is MASHALLAH MASHALLAH !!

  • yasirhaleem

    gallery is broken!!

  • Thank you for pointing that it. It has been rectified.

  • Umeed Shah

    Masha Allah !! …. Great work Fahad … very useful information …

  • Zeeshan Ashraf

    I never quite understood this mentality of a TOUGH car. what is that actually? that you can hammer it or something ?? i mean come on, high speed stability below par, handling and cornering below par, brakes at high speed not good, interior quality below average, and just because its HULK Corolla its better than civic PKDM?? you ve got very unbiased and valid points in your article but the verdict is something that ill have to respectfully disagree with … if suburban drive was all that you cared for, then why even corolla, some good budget SUV or crossover couldve served the purpose better …

  • ysk

    yeah – you didnt even test any toughness and didnt compare it to Civic’s toughness. Wondering, wha t test would be

  • Wamiq Ehsan

    Tyre Size, 205/55 R16 …. 2014 Toyota Corolla Altis india tyre size is a main issue.

  • Fahad Mehmood

    My dear friends, below are a points I’d like to share with you:

    Labeling the Corolla as a tough car is not just my opinion. You certainly cannot hammer your car, but you can certainly hammer the suspension and engine in many ways. I’ve have had a City in 2004 ( recently sold with 300k Km’s on the odo), a 2.0D Saloon in 2007 (sold 2 years back with 130k on the odo), A 2005 Corolla XLi (220k on the odo) and a 2001 Civic VTi Prosmatec (185k on the odo)

    I still have the XLi and the Civic. What I have experienced in all these years is that the Toyota’s were immune to the type of drive, bumpy and bad roads and maintenance issues. They never disappointed us in any manner and were driven by every harsh way possible. The Honda’s on the other hand, gave MANY issues. My City had an engine transplant 2 times, countless suspension issues, wheel bearing issues and the oil pan leaked for unknown reasons 3 times. The Civic’s engine is still strong but the power steering pump gave up many times, the axels vibrate upon gear shift for unknown reasons and the ABS went faulty one day and almost all my mechanics, including experts at Honda have given up on that. The ABS doesn’t work anymore and it’s been months now.

    So, due to bad past experience with Honda’s, I had the right to prefer Corolla over the latest Civic.
    I agree that the handling issues the Corolla comes inherited with are a drawback but lets be honest. What would you prefer? Bad handling or countless repair expenditure on the Honda’s?

    The 2.0D Saloon at the time of selling it was in perfect condition and the XLi still runs like a dream.

    Secondly, please recommend me a good SUV in 2.2 million or even 2.5 million with warranty and zero hassles.

  • Fahad Mehmood

    JazakAllah brother!

  • Fahad Mehmood

    JazakAllah Shah jee 🙂

  • Zeeshan Ashraf

    New civic has excellent road Clarence and suspension .. and 2013 honda vezel cross over can be had for around 2.9 mill .. as good as new grade car latest tech and def for off roading or sub urban ventures .. price difference is there but proportional increase in class is way higher .. and as far as TOUGHNESS is concerned in lay man’s terms, even a mehran goes to naran with no hassles .. I don’t mean to be critical without reason and totally congratulate you on a very decent local market purchase but to say it’s tougher than new civic based on your experiences on previous models doesn’t make sense .. it has to be backed by solid evidence rather than personal perceptions ..

  • Fahad Mehmood

    Well, practically speaking, which car is seen more in the Rural areas?

    Secondly, there’s difference between perception and experience.

    Thirdly, I asked for a brand new SUV (as you said I should have bought) under warranty.

    Lastly, my dear brother, I totally agree with you that I should not be speaking against the Civic without testing it practically but I don’t personally think that Civic would ever be able to coupe up with the road network in rural areas. Civic, no doubt is a different class but it’s just very sophisticated. It wont fit in those areas.

    My verdict was based on my requirements and the Corolla perfectly fits. Cheers.

  • Zeeshan Ashraf

    Practically speaking, new civic is still more in rural areas than new corolla, isn’t these two cars that you are comparing ??
    Secondly since you don’t have experience of new civic, it would be perception as experience on previous generations doesn’t really count.
    Thirdly, warranty in pakistan we all know how much that is effective and offered in reality .
    Lastly, my experience of new civic in rural roads tells me it’s higher suspension and sturdy structure makes it no less viable in those terrains than the new corolla and I’ve driven both quite a bit now.
    As I said earlier bro, not criticizing just for the sake of it, cheers

  • Asim Zaman

    I cant digest the fact that a Toyota Corolla 2014 “BUBBLES” at a speed of JUST 120 ??? I own Daihatsu Mira 2011 and i CHALLENGE any one here that i can take it to 140 km/h (its Maximum) and no passenger would even know the car is at that speed…

  • Asim Zaman

    I have personally driven a 2009 Honda Reborn for about 4 months and before that i kept a 1988 Toyota Corolla … and believe me or not but that 1988 corolla had MUCH MUCH better suspension than the Honda Civic …. Civic’s suspension were Hard and use to feel very odd when driving in rough areas…. The Corolla is the most preferred car in rural areas, its a fact ( No Fabboyism involved ) just personal experience…

  • Fahad Mehmood

    It’s not the 2014 Corolla’s fault. The pathetic tyres it comes euipped with, they’re the culprit. A fellow Pakwheeler and a dear friend got the same car and he replaced the tyres. The problem vanished 🙂

  • Fahad Mehmood

    We’ll have to wait for a Civic owner to post it’s review then. I would’ve been the lucky one, but due to some change in plans, I’m going for an Aspire.

    Thank you for your feedback. 🙂

  • Fahad Mehmood

    It’s a fact my dear friend. No questioning to that 🙂

  • disqus_UT0VG9ZjDa

    Im sure the Civic is more stable at high speeds than the Corolla. Whats the point of a 1800 cc engine if you’re scared of exceeding 120 cus the car is unstable. That way one can say civic is better built ?

  • disqus_UT0VG9ZjDa

    How sad that you get pathetic tyres inspite of paying 2 million +

  • Karachi wala

    dude …with all due respect…it’s in no way near to the luxury and drive of civic 2014. period. I own city (which can be termed as Honda’s corolla in term of interior & noises :P) & i have frequently drove my friend’s civic. Civic is a whole other beast. Nothing can come closer to it in that price range in local cars (and as per my driver not even camry 😛 )

  • Junaid Abbas

    To be honest, I dont know about this model as I have not driven it, But I have touched 175 km/h on my 2010 Toyota Corolla GLI, And truly speaking , it didn’t vibrate or the word that we all use(bubbling), When I touched 180km/h then the car became a little unstable. DO NOTE, When u 1st get the car from showroom, You must get the wheels aligned and balanced. On my very 1st drive I mean after getting the car from showroom, There was some vibration because of the wheels, So They dont properly align that. Get it fixed, And touching at least 190 or 200km/h will not be a problem. But be careful and you must be in full control

  • Usman

    It’s a taxi for God’s sake!!! 🙂 better than Civic.. yea rrrright! 😛 *laughing hysterically*

  • OJ

    On the ride quality, my vote goes to the Corolla. I currently own and have owned a number of different iterations of both cars over the years, grip and better brakes go to the Civic, but ride quality is hands down better in the Corolla. Even my 10 year old Saloon has better ride than the civic As for the engine they are both very similar in terms of power but the CVT of Altis makes it smoother and more fuel efficient than the prosmatec. As for reliability low maintenance, again my vote goes to the Toyota, my experiences with Honda have been very similar to those described by the author. I have not tested the latest model of civic, but I think we can always make educated guesses from the trend of the previous 2 models.
    The two areas where civic gets my vote:
    Interior: Absolutely beautiful, grande’s interior seems cheap in comparision
    Driving Position and feel: In the civic, you have better feel and the driving position is where it should be, in the Grande you struggle to see the front bumper and thereby struggle to judge the distance between your car and an object in front

  • nonchalant

    Civic has a better sophisticated feel to it. But in my opinion both civic n corolla are boring cars. infact one gets very tired of looking at the same types of sedans here. Living in lahore i would prefer some good quality hatchbacks like they have abroad which is fun to drive, easy to park and gives better mileage. Sedans are plain old and boring cars.

  • Ibrahim Naeem

    does it have cruise control because official site mentioned that manual grande has cruise control

  • Fahad Mehmood

    No my dear friend, the MT Grande is not equipped with a Cruise Control System.

  • Asim Zaman

    A very logical reply about both the cars… and specially the last lines regarding the civic…. completely agree….

  • Muhammad Asad Khan

    Even breaks are not good, center of gravity is not handled well by Toyota, materials are rubbish as you said by yourself, still you prefer to own it, then you are just satisfying yourself, no one else.

  • Muhammad Asad Khan

    As far as looks and toughness, it’s ugly as it can be, toughness just take previous versions and this one to off road you will know how tough it is.
    I know it’s not build for off road but in Pakistan Toyota Corolla means “pind mai b Ja sukti ha”.

  • Shuja Ur Rehman

    Looks suck and it is over designed.
    Interior sux with hard touch plastics and you feel like it is coming on to you.
    Brakes suck.
    Seat comfort sux.
    Ride is very bouncy.
    High speed unstable
    but still we prefer this piece S**T

  • Zaheer Abbas

    Well I recently owned Honda City IVTEC 2015 and I belong to a rural area where roads and streets are full of bumps in my opinion there is no issue with the toughness of the car obviously suspensions are stiff not soft as corolla but its break and control is awesome way good driving experience then rolla aur jaha tak pind ki garhi ki bat hai hamary jutt log thinks that there is nothing else like corolla just because of there previous experiences with old models like 76, 82, 88 and exe

  • Zaeem Khalid

    This article was doing well until the verdict was presented, which I respectfully disagree with. Yes, we all know that the Corolla has a softer suspension and good ground clearance, but that doesn’t make it a “tough” car. The few reasons older people in rural areas prefer a corolla is:
    1)Ground clearance
    2)Relatively cheaper and more easily available spare parts, especially in black markets
    3) Older corollas had the reputation of being tough (and they were, corolla since 2009 onwards, not so much).

    Good comprehensive review overall.

  • Rao

    Try civic 2000 and hard suspension in new civic is for a reason and thats better handling

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