The reason that we can say that the all-new 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback is “all-new” is because it really doesn’t share anything in common with the Corolla sedan that’s currently on sale here in the U.S. The Corolla Hatchback is based on the European version of the car, which Toyota calls the Auris. It rides on a brand-new platform — Toyota’s global architecture — and it’s an improvement in pretty much every single way over the current Corolla sedan.
Under the hood of the Corolla Hatchback is a new 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 168 horsepower. That’s a 31-hp improvement over the outgoing Corolla iM. That car felt a bit sluggish, but this car doesn’t. The bigger changes to the powertrain — for me — actually come with the transmissions.
There will be two available transmissions on the hatchback: a continuously variable transmission or a six-speed manual. Both get changes that make them a bit more drivable and a bit easier to live with. Starting with the CVT: It is a CVT, but at the bottom of it is what we call a “fixed gear.” Essentially what it has is a 1st gear that behaves like 1st gear in a traditional automatic transmission, which gives it better off-the-line acceleration. One of the big complaints about CVTs is that they have a rubber-band feel that makes them really bad from a stop. In the Corolla Hatchback, acceleration from a stop feels much more linear and the car feels much more responsive.
The bigger change comes with the six-speed manual transmission. The Corolla iM also offered a six-speed manual, but it wasn’t a good one. The clutch action was sloppy, the throws were long and the gates weren’t very good. It was so bad that it actually made me prefer the automatic version. In the hatchback, it’s been cleaned up; the clutch action is more linear and the gates are more well-defined. It’s an easier manual to drive.
It also comes with two features that you wouldn’t necessarily expect from a Toyota manual. The first is downshift rev-matching. When you shift down, the engine will rev up to match the new gear, which smooths out downshifts. The second feature is an anti-stall feature; if the car detects a potential stall in 1st gear, it will increase the revs automatically to prevent one from occurring.
For the rest of my thoughts on the all-new 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback, check out the video above.
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