By Samuel Smith
Last updated on: November 15, 2019 at 2:30 am
In this year’s Australia’s Best Cars awards, the country's most popular passenger car – the Toyota Corolla – has been crowned best small car under $35,000.
Winner: Toyota Corolla Ascent Sport
Variant: Ascent Sport
Engine: 2.0 litre petrol
ANCAP Safety Rating: 5 stars
Second place went to the Mazda3 G20 Evolve and the Kia Cerato S placed third.
What sets it apart from the rest
The current Corolla model arrived in Australia in August 2018, but since then Toyota has added some important extras to further enhance the ownership proposition.
These include the introduction of a 5-year factory warranty, which brought Toyota in line with most other mainstream manufacturers. In October 2019, Toyota added the smartphone integration capability of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, making it standard equipment across the range.
The 2.0 litre engine introduced with this model provides a useful jump in power and torque to 125kW and 200Nm.
- A zippy 125kW, 200Nm engine
- A 5-year factory warranty
- A competitive fuel consumption figure of 6.0L/100km
- Great servicing costs
- Competitive pricing
- Integration of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
What it’s like to drive
On the road, Australia’s Best Cars judges were impressed by the way the Corolla performed. The continuously variable transmission’s (CVT) ability to provide just the right gear ratios for the vehicle’s speed was particularly impressive.
The use of 10 artificial steps in the CVT’s gear changing program helped reduce engine flaring under acceleration. The 2.0 litre engine introduced with this model also provides a useful jump in power and torque to 125kW and 200Nm from the previous 1.8 litre engine (103kW and 173Nm).
These outputs place the Corolla ahead of other popular entry-level small petrol cars such as the Mazda3. And yet, the Corolla still delivers a competitive fuel consumption figure of 6.0L/100km in the regulation test cycle.
How the finalists compared (scores for each category from 1-10)
|Small cars under $35,000||Toyota Corolla Ascent Sport||Mazda3 G20 Evolve||Kia Cerato S|
|Cost of depreciation ($)||9||4||10|
|Running & repair costs||10||6||9|
|Warranty & dealer access||8||7||9|
|Build & finish quality||5||7||5|
|Smoothness & quietness||5||8||5|
Images: Mark Rogers, Magnum Photography Australia