Toyota has started selling the first of its new-generation Corolla models in Japan.

The fully redesigned Corolla sedan - now known as the Corolla Axio - and Corolla Fielder small station wagon went on sale at Toyota Corolla dealers nationwide on Tuesday.

The automaker said the Axio name was derived from the Greek work 'axia', meaning 'things with value'

The new model has a newly developed 1.8-litre engine and Super CVT-i (super continuously variable transmission-intelligent) transmission and advanced equipment not previously seen on compact vehicles, such as a pre-crash safety system using millimetre-wave radar, an intelligent parking assist system and radar cruise control.

Other features include a rear view monitor standard on all Corolla Axio models and one-touch double-folding rear seats standard on all Corolla Fielder models.

A 1.5-litre engine, five-speed manual transmission, two- or four-wheel drive and various trim levels are also available. The sales target for each model is 6,000 units a month.

The Corolla is currently sold in more than 140 countries and regions, and cumulative sales have exceeded 30m vehicles.

Toyota previewed the European hatchback version with a concept called Auris at the Paris motor show recently. This model, built in the UK, is not expected on sale until mid-2007.