Corolla Trek has raised ride height and extra exterior protection

Corolla Trek has raised ride height and extra exterior protection

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Even with a market collapse for several months, Toyota Motor Europe still managed to sell more than 60,000 Corollas during the first half of 2020. Bringing back the name after two generations of Auris was clearly the right thing to do.

TME hasn't made much noise about this fact but during the first eight months of 2020, according to ACEA data, it raised market share in the EU-EFTA-UK region to 5.8 per cent from 5.0. Lexus rose slightly to 0.4 per cent (from 0.3), so almost all of the achievement was down to Toyota, which stood at 5.4 per cent on 31 August. Compare that to Nissan's 2.5 per cent and it suddenly seems a long time ago that the Japanese giant's smaller rival was outselling it across the region.

As it always does, Toyota has played the long game. Officially, the company doesn't concern itself with market share in any country, yet the corporate ego will not be displeased that it has climbed above the five per cent mark and may be on its way to six. Rightly so, Toyota Motor Corporation instructs its worldwide divisions to hone in on profit not volume. Here in Europe that means an ongoing rise for transaction prices towards Volkswagen levels.

With in excess of 75,000 deliveries, the Yaris was TME's number one model during the first half of the year, most of those cars being hybrids. It may surprise some to learn that the Corolla, rather than the C-HR, was in second place. That's due as much to the intensity of the competition in the C-SUV/crossover segment as it is to the appeal of the newer hatchback and estate alternative. We've been able to buy the C-HR since late 2016 but the Corolla arrived in our part of the world in early 2019, production at Burnaston in the English Midlands having commenced at the start of the year.

The USA and China remain the two big markets for the Corolla, followed by Europe and Japan. The current model, which is the twelfth generation, has the same name the world over with the exception of China, where there is also a Levin derivative which enables both of TMC's JV partners to offer the car: FAW-Toyota has the Corolla, Hybrid and Plug-in hybrid, and Guangqi-Toyota the slightly altered Levin/Levin HEV/Levin PHEV.

In Europe, the launch range consisted of five-door hatchback, sedan and Touring Sports (estate). The last of these is longer and has a 2,700 mm wheelbase, something it shares with the four-door car, whereas in the five-door, it's 2,640 mm. The engine line-up consisted at first of a 114 hp 1.2-litre petrol turbo and for the sedan, a 132 hp 1.6, plus 122 hp 1.8- and 180 hp 2.0-litre hybrids. The non-hybrid 1.2 was dropped at the end of 2019, at least for Britain, while no regional market has the PHEV, that being mainly for China.

Toyota Motor Europe revealed two more variants at last year's Geneva motor show: the GR Sport, and an estate with raised suspension, the Trek. The second of the pair took some time to go on sale, deliveries not commencing in some markets such as the UK until a few months back. As Volkswagen's recent announcement concerning a new generation Golf Alltrack shows, there is clearly a good business case for such cars.

The new elevated estate is reference to the bike brand, Toyota providing a fleet of these cars as support vehicles for the Trek-Segafredo World Tour Teams during European cycle racing events this summer. Changes for the Trek start with a 20 mm suspension lift; grey plastic cladding for the front, back and sides; bespoke 17-inch wheels; a different grille; fog lamps and LED headlights; plus Trek badges.

The interior has undergone some alterations too, such as two-tone upholstery, wood-effect trim around the air vents and Trek logos inside the front door openings. Other than those touches, it's all very similar if not identical to other Corolla Hybrids, which means blue-hue digital instruments, physical controls for cooling/demisting/heating, lots of places to store all your stuff, and a thick-rim sports steering wheel.

The Trek is front-wheel drive only and a CVT is standard, this having far less of the rubber-band effect which used to afflict older such transmissions.

Toyota says the 1,797 cc Atkinson Cycle engine is its fourth generation hybrid system. The engine develops 90 kW (122 hp) and 142 Nm plus 53 kW and 163 Nm from the motor. Top speed for the estate is 180 km/h, while 0-100 km/h takes 11.1 seconds.

Buyers who prefer the 1,987 cc alternative have an engine with outputs of 132 kW (180 hp) and 190 Nm, as well as a motor that produces 80 kW and 202 Nm. Top speed is the same 112 mph but the 0-62 mph time falls by three seconds exactly. The larger engine also includes gear change paddles, something which the 1.8 doesn't have. CO2 averages (WLTP) are 113 or 121 g/km.

The extra length of the estate, including the longer wheelbase, makes this one of the most appealing cars in its class if load space is a top priority. Toyota has positioned the rear shock absorbers so that intrusion into the boot is minimised (side wall storage pockets available behind the rear wheel housings), while the hybrid battery is positioned below the back seat. A handy feature is a carpet/resin reversible boot floor which covers a two-position loadbay.

Overall, the Trek is an appealing package, albeit a pricey one, plus unless you choose the larger of the two engines, progress can be on the slow side when the car is loaded. Having said that, most owners will see at least 50 mpg on average, which, while beaten by some diesel estates in the same segment, none of those can match the silence at lower speeds which remains one of the best things about hybrid drive systems.

The new Corolla Trek 1.8-litre Hybrid costs from GBP29,225 on the road, with the 2.0-litre starting from GBP30,950.