For many people, especially of a certain age, mention estate cars and Volvo comes to mind, estates that were favoured by antique dealers everywhere. Look for a large estate now and to be honest you’ll struggle. We’ve moved to ‘lifestyle’ estates which are colloquially known as Tourers, smaller load capacity but arguably more stylish and better handling than the estate barges of old.
One of the sleekest and most affordable estates, sorry tourers, is Toyota’s Corolla Touring Sports. Carrying their very well-proven hybrid technology, still a much more all-round and useable proposition than an EV, the Corolla may not be the most exciting means of transport, but as a package it pretty much does everything you could want of a car. Lots of equipment, affordable running costs and very well bolted together. It feels like a car that will still be running and looking good in 20 years-time.
Prices start from £31,560 with four trim levels and two engine options – 1.8 or 2.0-litre petrol hybrid. Standard fare on the entry level model provides everything from front and rear parking sensors and auto lights to smart phone connectivity and dual zone air conditioning.
My test model was the Design trim, second up in the range, which adds keyless entry and start, power tailgate, privacy glass, power fold door mirrors and auto dimming rear view mirrors to its standard equipment.
One of the first things to say about the car is its apparent low stance, it’s looks very low yet isn’t compared to other cars of a similar type. So Toyota’s stylists obviously know a thing or two about sleek design!
Inside it looks and feels well assembled and the quality puts some rivals of similar price in the shade. You still get the bolt-on-iPad look of so many cars but that apart there’s a pleasing normality with a standard automatic gear shift lever, buttons (hurrah!) and decent functionality to the touch screen.
As with anything Toyota the Corolla is a smooth and refined drive, push the throttle too enthusiastically though and as is usual with a CVT transmission it hangs onto high engine revs meaning it’s rather vocal. Progressive rather than sudden acceleration is the order of the day.
If you’re looking for a car that’s got more practicality than a hatchback, but still handles as capably, looks good and is superbly well built, then the Toyota Corolla Hybrid Touring might just be the perfect choice.
By Mark Slack