The Complete History of the Toyota Corolla

When the Toyota Corolla was first introduced in 1966 few knew that it would go on to become one of the most successful and iconic nameplates in history. Its rise to the top was rapid, becoming the best-selling car worldwide by 1974 and by 1997 it became the best-selling nameplate, surpassing that of the Volkswagen Beetle.

Today, well over 40 million Corollas have been sold and the nameplate is still regarded as one of the best in the business. To celebrate this success, we have created a full guide on the complete history of the Toyota Corolla and its different generations.

First-Generation Corolla (1966)

Development of the first-generation Corolla began in the latter half of 1962 with Tasuo Hasegawa heading up the design team. Based on his previous experience working on the Toyopet Crown and leading the development of the Publica, Hasegawa decided that a different approach was needed for the new Corolla.

Toyota designed the Publica as a practical family car that was both economical and affordable. To achieve this, Hasegawa and his design team had to simplify the car’s specifications and features, which led to a lukewarm reception from Japanese buyers.

Part of the problem was that purchasing a car was a dream for many in the general public and Japan was a rapidly changing country. Japanese buyers didn’t just want a utility item, they wanted a vehicle they could be proud of – something that was at least somewhat luxurious.

With the failure of the Publica, Toyota and Hasegawa came to the realisation that their existing components and technologies were not up to the demands of the modern car buyer.

They decided to focus on creating a new concept that would feature a completely new suspension, body and engine design. Construction of this new car would require an up-to-date manufacturing facility, which came in the form of the 30 billion yen Takaoka Plant.

Hasegawa and his team’s initial plan was to create a car with a 44 horsepower 1.0-litre engine – a significant challenge for Toyota at the time. The Toyota design team understood that an overhead cam layout was an effective way to create a more power engine, but they lacked the experience to implement it properly in an affordable package.

Instead, they focused on an overhead valve layout but with the camshaft in the highest possible position within the cylinder block and a shorter push rod. This workaround achieved somewhat similar performance to Toyota’s ideal overhead cam layout.

While Toyota was developing this new engine, 1.0-litre power units were becoming increasingly common in family cars. With this in mind it was decided that the engine would be expanded to 1.1-litres (1,077 cc) to maintain an air of superiority over the competition.

However, this would create some tension in the company as some believed that the new engine size would push the Corolla into a higher tax bracket.

The new engine size wasn’t the only thing that drew opposing voices from within Toyota. A number of workers voiced concerns about the positioning of the MacPherson strut front suspension. This was the first time that the lightweight suspension setup had been used in a Japanese vehicle and the design team had no experience creating their own configuration.

When the first prototypes of the Corolla were produced, the dissenting voices were proven to be correct. The problem was so bad that one prototype could only travel 500m before the suspension failed.

Despite these disappointments, Hasegawa was adamant that the MacPherson configuration was the correct setup for the new car. With further refinements the setup was perfected and ready to go two-and-a-half years later.

At the rear of the car, the new Corolla featured a much simpler semi-floating suspension configuration that was adopted to reduce the inherent squeaking noise produced from leaf springs.

Unlike many other Japanese cars of the period, the Corolla was not only designed for the local market, but also the export market as well. Toyota wanted to use the Corolla to enter new markets and see how they stack up against their foreign competition.

Toyota Introduces the Corolla

Initially, the Corolla was only available as a two-door saloon, however, soon afterwards a four-door sedan and a two-door ‘van’ (station wagon) were introduced.

Compared to the Publica, the new Corolla was far more futuristic and more up-to-date with the needs of the modern world & markets. Toyota adopted a semi-fastback design for the first time and made widespread use of curved surfaces to give the car a more active and refined appearance.

The engine line-up started with the 1.1-litre K series engine, but with more power than the initial prototypes at 59 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 83 Nm (61 lb ft) of torque at 3,800 rpm. This engine featured several revolutionary technologies such as a high-mounted camshaft for more performance and a five-bearing crankshaft that could withstand higher engine speeds.

The new engine was soon joined by a more powerful K-B version that was fitted with twin carburettors, and a K-D engine, which featured a raised compression ratio for increased performance.

In the second half of the first-generation Corolla’s production run, Toyota replaced the 1.1-litre power units with a series of enhanced and expanded 1.2-litre 3k, 3K-B and 3K-D engines. The base-spec 3K power unit produced a maximum output of 67 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 94 Nm (69 lb ft) of torque at 3,500 rpm – a small but welcome increase in power over the old 1.1-litre engine.

Toyota mated the K series engines to a choice of three different transmissions: a floor-mounted two speed automatic, a steering column-mounted four-speed manual and a fully synchronised four-speed manual transmission. Both the four-speed manual and the two-speed automatic transmissions were firsts for a Japanese motor vehicle, and were far ahead of the ones found on older cars.

To keep the body in good condition, Toyota made use of a rarely used coating technique at the time known as protective electrostatic coating, which was then combined with regular electrophoretic body coating. The car was then finished in a range of different colours that were based on classic mythological themes and gods.

On the inside, the sporty modern theme continued with bucket-style seats in the front that could be fully reclined. The Corolla also featured equipment that was normally only found on more expensive cars at the time such as a centre console box, armrests, a radio and a heater.

Initially, the Corolla was only fitted with drum brakes at both the front and the rear, however, Toyota installed front disc brakes on some models midway through the first-generation car’s production lifecycle (another first for a Japanese family car).


With Toyota’s desire to export the Corolla from the outset, Hasegawa and his team not only had to create a car that could compete specification wise, but they also had to make a car that was safe (relative for the time). The safety requirements for motor vehicles in the United States were much higher than those in Japan and as such, Toyota introduced features such as multi-point seat belts, and recessed, pull-type outside door handles during the Corolla’s production run.

Second-Generation Corolla (1970)

While the first-generation Corolla was a cut above the rest in the family car segment, Toyota was quick to introduce a second-generation model. They wanted to stay on top of the market and were keen to build upon the Corolla’s favourable reputation and to build brand loyalty.

With the experience built from the first-generation Corolla it was decided that second-generation model would be given an expanded body with greater comfort and improved an improved driving experience.

Toyota developed the second-generation Corolla with Japan’s booming economy in mind and decided to dramatically increase production for the new car. With this increase in production, the total number of Corollas produced would rapidly surpass one million in 1970, a massive feat for the Japanese automaker.

The Development of the Second-Generation Corolla

Tatsuo Hasegawa and his team were once again put in charge of the development of the Corolla. Work began on the new car around one year after the launch of the first-generation model and the goal was simple, extend the Corolla’s lead over the competition.

Hasegawa looked at the entire Toyota range and noted that while they had already expanded the displacement of the K-series engine in the Corolla to 1.2-litres, there was still a substantial difference between and the next model up, the 1.6-litre Corona. With this in mind, him and his team of designers decided to investigate the feasibility of a 1.4-litre power unit that would bridge that gap between the Corona and the Corolla.

When it came to the body design, Toyota wanted to create something that would not only be instantly recognisable as a Corolla, but also up to date with the modern times. The design team focused on smoothing out the Corolla’s bodylines and making it more modern. However, right up until the car launched, many of the design team were hesitant about the car’s new bold appearance.

Thankfully, for Hasegawa and his team the bold new design paid off and the second-generation Corolla proved to be a massive hit with both Japanese buyers and international ones as well.

Toyota carried over the two-door sedan, the four-door sedan and the two-door estate over from the previous generation Corolla, but they also introduced a new model, a two-door coupe. This was largely done to expand Toyota’s range of sporty models as increased performance was becoming increasingly popular in both Japan and export markets.

The Second-Generation Corolla Launches

When the second-generation Corolla first launched it was only available with the 1.2-litre K-series engines from the previous generation model. However, shortly after launch, Toyota would introduce the newly developed range of 1.4-litre T-series engines that were adopted to improve the Corolla’s high-speed performance and bridge the gap to the next model up.

Fundamentally, the T-series engine was very similar to the K-series, but crossflow-type intakes and exhaust ports along with double rocker shafts were incorporated to improve performance. Another major addition was the inclusion of hemispherical combustion chambers that improved combustion efficiency.

Once again, Toyota offered the T-series engine in a number of different forms. The base model was a single-carburettor power unit that produced 85 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 115 Nm (85 lb ft) of torque at 3,800 rpm. Toyota also offered a 90hp twin-carb version known as the T-B and a 94 hp high compression version known as the T-D (these two models reflected the 3K-B and 3K-D versions of the K-series engine).

The engine range wasn’t the only thing to get an update. While Toyota continued to offer the Corolla with their impressive four-speed transmission, they also introduced a five-speed model (essentially a four-speed with an overdrive gear) for sportier models.

The excellent MacPherson suspension setup was retained at the front, but a new torsion bar stabiliser was added to increase cornering performance. At the rear, the length of the leaf springs was increased to improve ride comfort and handling stability.

From the outset, the second-generation Corolla was given disc brakes as standard. Proportioning valves were implemented to prevent the rear wheels from locking up during hard and emergency braking. Higher end Corolla models were kitted out with tandem brake master cylinders as standard to enhance stopping performance.

Compared to the previous generation, the new Corolla was larger and featured more rounded body lines. The new Coupe model was given a slightly longer front end and a shorter fastback rear end that gave it a sportier look.

One of the biggest styling changes of the second-gen Corolla was the removal of the triangular quarter light windows in the front in favour of one glass panel. With these gone, Toyota had to include two large, hooded air intakes between the windscreen and bonnet, as the triangular windows could be opened to supply air into the cabin.

The interior of the Corolla also received some updates with new seats that featured integrated headrests that offered increased comfort and safety. Toyota also increased the sliding range of the front seats to allow for a wider range of driving positions and more storage compartments were another addition.

As with the first-generation Corolla, the second-generation model featured a whole host of up-to-date technologies that were usually only found on more expensive models. Some of these features included an AM/FM stereo, windscreen washers and air conditioning.

The Corolla Range Goes High Performance with the Levin

To increase the company’s sporting image even further it was decided that a special edition model known as the Corolla Levin would be launched. The suggestion for the Levin came from a young designer with a great passion for rallying. His idea was to take a larger double overhead cam (DOHC) engine from one of Toyota’s bigger models and squeeze it into the Corolla.

It was decided that the 1,588 cc 2T-G twin-cam engine from the larger Celica model would be a perfect fit for the sporty Corolla. With 113 hp and 142 Nm (105 lb ft) of torque on tap and a body weight of just 855 kg, the Levin provided incredible performance for the period.

The new more powerful Corolla Levin (TE27) was of great interest to motorsport fans and racing teams, and as such Toyota decided to incorporate it into their development process. It was officially launched in March 1972 and it quickly acquired a dedicated fanbase. The Levin would not only bring high performance to the second-generation Corolla range, but it would also be the inspiration for some of Toyota’s, and in fact, some of Japan’s greatest cars.

With great interest in the Corolla Levin from motorsport teams, the car quickly found itself in various different motorsport events. The Levin’s greatest success came at the 1,000 Lakes Rally in Finland when it managed to claim a win over its European counterparts.

Third Generation Corolla (1974)

With the massive success of the first- and second-generation models, the third-generation Corolla had a lot to live up to. Buyers wanted more and competition in both the Japanese car market and the international one was becoming fierce.

Toyota saw that their competitors were catching up, so no expense was spared during the development of the third-generation car. The car would not only be more refined, comfortable and safe, but it would also be more economical and would meet strict new emissions standards that were becoming increasingly prevalent around the world.

Developing the Third-Generation Corolla

Shirou Sasaki headed up the design team for the third-gen model and his goal was clear, create a car that would not only fulfil the demanding requirements of existing Toyota customers, but also draw in new customers.

The first things that the design team focused on was improving the driving performance, the functionality of the car, quietness and the interior comfort. They also decided to increase the vehicle’s width and give it a higher quality interior over the second-gen model.

One of the biggest areas of concern during the development phase was the increasingly stringent emissions regulations. While the Clean Air Act had come into force in the United States in 1963, it was regularly amended and expanded. Japan also adopted many of these emissions regulations and as such, a vehicle that could not pass them was essentially unsaleable.

To combat this issue, Toyota established the Higashi-Fuji Technical Centre as a research organisation for emissions and exhaust gas countermeasures. The bright and inventive engineers at the facility eventually perfected a catalyst-based exhaust gas purification system that would become widely used in almost all cars in the future.

Toyota also focused on other technologies to improve engine performance and restore some of the power lost from the new emission solutions.

Engine Problems

Initially, four power unit variations were available for the third generation Corolla: the 1.2-litre 3K-H, 1.4-litre T-series, 1.6-litre 2T, and the much loved 2T-G twin cam from the sporty Corolla Levin model.

However, just over a year and a half into the car’s production run Toyota had to remove many of these power units from the Corolla line-up as they failed to meet new emissions regulations that were introduced in 1975.

The only engines that Toyota could offer were the 1.6-litre 2T-U and the 1.4-litre T-U as they were equipped with catalytic converters. The ‘U’ designation was used to indicate engines that were fitted with at least one of Toyota’s exhaust purification devices.

While it was a setback for Toyota, they soon introduced a new set of environmentally friendly (for the time) power units with the first one being the 1.2-litre 3K-U engine. The 3K-U was swiftly followed by the 1.6-litre 12T in the latter half of 1975 that utilised the company’s new lean combustion technique. Following this, the 1.3-litre 4K-U and the 1.6-litre 12T-U with an oxidation catalyst were introduced.

With the 2T-G engine being such a hit amongst performance enthusiasts, it was decided that it would be reworked to be able to pass the new emissions regulations. Toyota’s engineers fitted the engine with an oxidation catalyst and replaced the Solex carbs with an electronic fuel injection system. Unfortunately, while the amount of torque the engine produced was the same, it produced slightly less power at 110 hp.

Compared to the second-generation Corolla, the third-gen model featured a more striking, hard edged appearance. The car’s new body design was also backed by science, with wind tunnel testing being introduced for the first time in the Corolla’s design history.

New Body Designs & an Up-To-Date Interior

Once again Toyota offered sedan, estate, and coupe models. A hardtop model was also available and differentiated itself from the sedan via a triple-stack of streamlined air vents at the rear three-quarter panel. Interestingly, the Coupe was discontinued almost immediately after launch, but was reintroduced at a later point.

One of the Toyota’s most exciting additions to the line-up was the introduction of a sporty Liftback model. While the Liftback wasn’t overly popular in the Japanese domestic market, it proved to be a massive hit with international buyers and Toyota has to ramp up production of the car significantly.

With a new generation came a new, more refined interior that was more ergonomically friendly. Most of the switches and dials were now featured on a centre console and the instrument panel was covered with thick padding. Toyota’s engineers and designers also put great emphasis on reducing noise and vibration levels to make the Corolla even more comfortable.

While performance, comfort and style were all major design considerations for the Toyota design team, it was clear that safety was becoming more and more important to both customers and governments around the world.

Greater Safety

To improve safety over the second-gen model, Toyota designed the car with an impact-absorbing body structure with a crumple zone at both the front and the rear. The thickness of the doors was also increased to give better protection against side impacts and three-point retractor seatbelts were standard on all models.

Sales of the Third-Gen Corolla

While sales of the third-generation Corolla in Japan failed to meet expectations, the international market proved to be wildly successful for Toyota. In total, 3,755,029 third-gen Corollas were produced during the car’s entire production run.

Fourth-Generation Corolla (1979)

By the end of the 1970s the oil crisis that affected the Corolla’s sales in Japan (and somewhat worldwide) was finally over and the economy was on the up. However, the post-oil crisis car buyer was now more diverse and there was a growing demand for fuel-efficient vehicles.

With these new considerations on their mind, Toyota decided to re-imagine the Corolla for the fourth-generation model. While the new model was still affordable, it was slightly more upmarket, and a greater emphasis was placed on making the car more fuel efficient and inexpensive to run.

Development of the Fourth-Generation Corolla

Toyota began development of the fourth-gen model soon after the third-gen had launched. Fumio Agetsuma was put in charge of the development process and his idea was to create a car that was practical and luxurious enough that it would prevent the new cashed-up baby boomer generation from upgrading to larger, higher-end vehicles.

With the massive responsibility of redesigning the world’s best selling car at the time, Agetsuma decided that it would be a good idea to conduct a worldwide market research campaign. The study focused not only on a potential buyer’s annual income, occupation and age, but it also looked at how the car would be used and what the buyer’s motivation/motivations were for purchase.

As the Corolla was now so popular in the international market, it was decided that testing would not only be carried out in Japan, but also in the United States, Europe and Canada. This worldwide testing methodology would prove to be crucial in the development of the Corolla and would help Toyota better understand their main export markets.

A New Engine for a New Car

Toyota’s original intention was to equip the fourth-generation Corolla with the 1.5-litre 1A-U from the Tercel. However, six months before the car’s launch Agetsuma made the controversial decision to switch to a different power unit.

He believed that the 1.5-litre 3A-U engine was a better fit for the new Corolla. While the engine was still in the development phase, the initial tests looked promising. It offered higher performance and efficiency than Toyota’s other engine options for the Corolla and was significantly lighter and easier to maintain as well.

However, there was a major problem with the engine. During the design and development phase it was found that the heads would crack with frightening frequency. To solve this problem, Agetsuma and his team worked tirelessly and they would introduce a raft of countermeasures just one month prior to the start of full production.

The new 1.5-litre engine produced a maximum output of 79 horsepower at 5,600 rpm and 115 Nm (85 lb ft) of torque at 3,600 rpm.

Along with the 3A-U engine, Toyota also offered two other four cylinder engines at launch: the 1.3-litre 4K-U and the range topping 1.6-litre double overhead cam 2T-GEU engine that was carried over from the previous generation Corolla. Export markets received slightly different engine options depending on the specific country’s driving conditions and needs.

A 1.8-litre overhead valve 13T-U engine joined the range five months after launch but was discontinued after two years when the 1.3 and 1.5-litre engines were updated. The new updated engines featured improved airflow via counter-flow designs within the alloy cylinder head and the exhaust manifold.

In 1982 Toyota introduced a diesel engine for the first time into the Corolla range as a response to a growing demand for more fuel-efficient vehicles. This 1.8-litre 1C diesel engine featured technologies such as alloy cylinder heads and a direct-drive valve operating system that did not use rocker arms. While power was lower than other models at 64 horsepower, the car offered incredible fuel economy and cold weather start up ability.

Updating the Suspension & Brakes

Prior to the creation of the fourth-generation model, all Corolla cars were given leaf spring suspension at the rear. While this setup did have some benefits when it came to rough road surfaces and commercial vehicles, it simply wasn’t up to date with where the passenger car market was headed.

Agetsuma realised this was a major issue during a business trip to Holland when the president of the company he was meeting compared the Suspension of the Corolla to that of a horse-drawn cart. When he returned to Japan, him and his engineers instantly set about creating a new four-link coil configuration for the rear of the car. The new setup was a major improvement, with much greater stability and comfort.

New, more powerful disc brakes that were better at dissipating heat were installed at the front of the vehicle, while rear drum brakes were once again fitted to the rear on most models. Sportier Corollas with more powerful engines were equipped with disc brakes on all four wheels.

A New More Aerodynamic Body

With the growing interest in fuel efficient vehicles and the oil crisis of the 1970s it only made sense to use aerodynamic advancements to improve fuel economy. Extensive wind tunnel testing was carried out during the design and development phase and further research was conducted at the Higashi-Fuji Technical Centre.

The new design of the Corolla was overall cleaner with a boxier appearance. Toyota’s designers angled the front of the car to improve aerodynamic performance and fuel efficiency. The rear of the car was higher but still in proportion. When tested, it was found that the drag coefficient of the new Corolla was just 0.35, a massive improvement over the previous generation cars.

Toyota didn’t just focus on greater aerodynamic performance, they also looked at ways to make the car more comfortable and safer. They implemented a vibration-proof structure (as near as you could get at the time) that featured several sound isolation measures that reduced road noise inside of the cabin. Additionally, urethane bumpers were fitted to a Corolla model for the first time.

The Interior Gets Some Love

For Agetsuma, it was important that the interior did not let down the new fashionable exterior. He ordered a complete makeover of the Corolla’s interior and encouraged his designers and engineers to use materials from higher end models.

Pressure distribution tests were carried out to help design the new high-back seats and adjustable headrests. Coupe models were supplied with bucket seats, while Liftback models received special reclining ones. The Sedan and hardtop models were fitted with a bench seat at the rear, while other models featured a folding split seat design.

Agetsuma and his team also updated the entire dashboard and instrument cluster area, placing all of the important meters and dials under a single panel. While this made the instrument panel more driver focused, Agetsuma got his engineers to also look at improving the passenger experience.

A Sales Success

Agetsuma’s bold new Corolla design was phenomenally well received. The car was highly praised by motor journalists, enthusiasts and general buyers, and it was so popular that Toyota could not produce enough of them to satisfy demand.

Once again, the Corolla would prove to be the best-selling car in the world and by the end of production total exports reached an impressive figure of 4,730,000 units. This would push the total number of Corollas produced to over ten million units, a massive milestone for Toyota and the Japanese auto industry.

Fifth-Generation Corolla (1983)

By 1983 it was time for a new Corolla. Toyota wanted to appeal to the new, younger generation of buyers and redesigned the Corolla to better suite their needs and wants. They also introduced a raft of new technological changes and features, and a front-wheel drivetrain was introduced for the first time on a Corolla model (although rear-wheel drive was still available on some models for greater driving experience).

With the updates and changes made to the car, the Corolla would once again go onto become a sales success. It became the top-selling car in Japan and continued to head up the worldwide market.

Developing the Fifth-Gen Corolla

With the incredible success of the previous Corolla model, Fumio Agetsuma retained his position as the head of the design team for the new car. Amazingly, the chief development engineer released his plans and visions for the fifth-gen model in the same month that the fourth-generation Corolla went on sale.

During the seventies it was becoming increasingly apparent that front-wheel drive layouts would play a massive role in the future of the automobile. Car manufacturers were finding out that front-wheel drive layouts tended to be cheaper to produce, lighter in weight and left more space in the cabin, all major plusses for mass produced family vehicles.

Toyota’s first front-wheel drive passenger car came in the form of the Tercel in 1978. This new vehicle showed the Japanese manufacturer the benefits of a front-wheel drive system for a family passenger vehicle.

Agetsuma realised that he could implement a front-wheel drive layout in the new Corolla design, however, not everyone was happy. Many in Toyota were worried that a front-wheel drive design would upset the Corolla’s loyal fan base and reduce sales.

Despite this, Agetsuma pressed ahead with the new drivetrain layout and eventually convinced Toyota’s board of directors that it was a good idea. Approval for a front-wheel drive Corolla came at the start of 1980, and immediately Agetsuma and his team started to work on a raft of new technologies and features for the vehicle.

A Range of New Power Units

As with many car manufacturers at the time, Toyota switched to full-scale use of computers for the majority of its development and design work. The fifth-gen Corolla would receive the full benefit of this computer aided design process with a number of world-firsts developed into the engine range.

At launch, Toyota offered several different engine options including the 1.3-litre 2A-LU power unit, the 1.5-litre 3A-LU, and the newly developed 1.6-litre 4A-ELU with electronic fuel injection.

While versions of the 2A and 3A power units had featured on earlier Corolla models, the engines in the fifth-generation car were reworked to provide better power and fuel economy. Some of the new features on these engines included the installation of a manifold converter, a swirl control valve and an integrated Ignition Assembly that was designed to optimise combustion efficiency at low to mid rpms.

With the changes made the 2A produced roughly 73 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 107 Nm (79 lb ft) of torque at 3,600 rpm, while the 3A produced 82 hp at 5,600 rpm and 118 Nm (87 lb ft) of torque at 3,600 rpm.

Toyota’s new 4A-ELU engine was essentially a derivative of the 3A motor, but with the displacement increased from 1.5 to 1.6-litres. The new engine also received electronic fuel injection and the company’s newly developed Toyota Computer Controlled System (TCCS). This new system electronically controlled the timing of the spark plugs and helped boost power to a respectable 99 hp 137 Nm (101 lb ft) of torque.

Later in the fifth-generation Corolla’s production lifecycle, Toyota would introduce the multi-valve 1.3-litre 2E-LU that replaced the 1.2-litre 2A engine. This new engine had a number of improvements over the 2A and power was boosted to 80 hp and 108 Nm (80 lb ft) of torque. In some markets buyers could opt for the 1.8-litre 1C-L diesel engine.

At the top of the engine range was the new 4A-GE Lightweight Advanced Super Response Engine (LASRE) that was designed as a replacement for the much loved 2T-GEU power unit. Toyota original designed the engine as a single overhead cam unit, but eventually converted it to a double overhead cam form with a 16-valve head to improve performance.

The 4A-GE also incorporated a whole range of new technologies and features for a Toyota car such as an aluminium cylinder head, a forged crankshaft, a higher compression ratio and Toyota’s Variable Induction System. With all these updates, the 4A-GE produced as much as 128 hp at 6,600 rpm and 149 Nm (110 lb ft) at 5,200 rpm.

In October 1984 Toyota introduced a version of this engine known as the 4A-GEL for FF sedan and hatchback models.

New Transmission Options

Toyota not only reworked the Corolla’s engine lineup, but they also updated the car’s transmission options. They once again offered the car with a four or five-speed manual transmission (depending on the model), but the biggest changes occurred with the automatic lineup.

By this point, the automatic transmission was the preferred option in Japan and many other export markets. Toyota fitted lower end, front-wheel drive Corolla’s with a three-speed auto box, while higher end models (and coupe models with the 3A-U engine) had the option of a four-speed automatic. The three-speed auto was eventually replaced with a four-speed on all models in February 1984.

Rear-Wheel Drive & Front-Wheel Drive Options

As Toyota was unsure about how Corolla enthusiasts and buyers would respond to a front-wheel drive car, they decided to keep a rear-wheel drive lineup as well. Another factor in this decision was that the cost of converting the Corolla plant from rear-wheel drive to front-wheel drive would be far too expensive to justify the cost at the time.

Toyota decided to make front-wheel drive models more comfort orientated, while rear-wheel drive cars were more focused on performance and the overall driving experience. Rear-wheel drive coupe models were fitted with either 1.5- or 1.6-litre longitudinally mounted engines and were given the chassis designation of ‘AE86’.

The AE86 was the last Corolla model with a front-mounted engine, rear-wheel drive layout and the car quickly developed a cult like following. Drifters, racers and rally drivers all had massive success in the AE86 and it has gone onto to become one of Toyota’s most loved vehicles. The AE86 is arguably best known for its role in the Japanese TV anime series ‘Initial D’, where it is the vehicle of choice for the main character.

New Suspension

Corolla models with a front-wheel drive layout all received a new suspension design. Toyota adopted a MacPherson strut with an L-shaped lower arm for the front, while dual-link struts with two lower arms were used at the back.

Coupe models were given the same layout as was introduced on the third-generation Corolla. However, Toyota’s engineers reworked the suspension’s positioning and alignment to provide better handling performance and ride comfort.

An Up-To-Date Body

With the use of computer aided programs, Agetsuma and his team could rapidly create new designs and renderings of the fifth-generation Corolla. The new Corolla’s design was developed to be much more appealing to younger buyers, and, as such the older generation were not so keen on it. Still, despite this the fifth-generation Corolla was once again a sales success, becoming the world’s best-selling car.

The Toyota design team not only utilised their new computer aided design process to help with the styling, but they also used it to improve safety. During the development process, the Japanese automaker produced around 600 prototype vehicles with 100 of them being dedicated to collision research and tests.

During these tests they found that if certain sections of the body were allowed to crumple in a controlled way, they could dramatically reduce the impact load from the collision. Additionally, the polyurethane bumpers from the previous gen model were replaced with plastic ones that were integrated into the body.

Toyota offered the fifth-gen Corolla in a total of five different body styles: a three-door hatchback, a two or three-door coupe, a four-door sedan and a five-door liftback. Rear-wheel drive was only available on coupe models.

Sixth-Generation Corolla (1987)

With the introduction of the sixth-generation car in 1987, Toyota wanted the Corolla to be more than just a family runabout. Akihiko Saito, the lead design engineer, and his team focused on three main areas, performance, quality and style.

The design team created over 2,000 development proposals and worked with more than 100 other part manufacturers to create a design that would bring a new level of quality to the Corolla name.

More Engine options

When the fifth-generation Corolla launched it was offered with one of the biggest range of engine options of any car on the market. The 1.3-litre 2E engine was the base-spec power unit, followed by the brand new 1.5-litre 5A range of engines that came with either fuel injection or with a carburettor. A 1.5-litre E3 engine was only available on the van version of the Corolla.

For those who wanted a bit more power and performance, Toyota offered two 1.6-litre 4A engines that could come either naturally aspirated or with a supercharger. The last engine option was a revised version of the 1.8-litre 1C power unit from the fifth-generation car.

A double overhead cam and four-valve-per-cylinder design was utilised on four of the seven engine options to improve performance.

A new system known as High-Mecha Twin Cam was also introduced for some engine options (1.5-litre units), which offered superior performance. On standard DOHC engines a timing belt is used to drive both camshafts. On High-Mecha Twin Cam engines one camshaft is driven by a timing belt while the other is moved by a scissor gear.

In the second half of 1987 a 1.6-litre version of the High-Mecha engine was introduced. However, this engine option was only available for four-wheel drive models.

The last series of engine upgrades were introduced in May 1989 with all A-series engines being converted to fuel injection. A 2.0-litre 2C diesel engine was also added to the four-wheel drive lineup to boost sales in colder climates.

No More Rear-Wheel Drive

For the first time in the Toyota Corolla’s history there was no rear-wheel drive option available. Toyota did offer four-wheel drive sedan and estate versions of the car, but the 4WD system in these vehicles was based on the front-wheel drive layout.

Improvements to the Chassis & Handling

With the introduction of the new sporty range of engines, Toyota needed to redevelop and refine the suspension & chassis setup. The strut-type suspension system was retained for the sixth-gen car, but the shock absorbers, geometry and other suspension components were all updated to improve ride comfort ad handling performance.

Toyota also equipped their higher-end Corolla models with their Toyota Electronic Modulated Suspension (TEMS) system. This new system could electronically alter the damping force between ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ based on the driver’s preference and the driving conditions.

To increase braking performance it was decided that all models would be given front disc brakes, while higher end models were kitted put with ventilated discs. Additionally, a brake booster was included to generate greater braking performance with a lighter application of the pedal.

A More Rounded Appearance

The straight lines of previous generation models were gone, and the new Corolla featured a more rounded off appearance. Toyota also designed the sixth-gen car to be lower and wider, with a more proportional body.

Reducing road noise was a major focal point for the Toyota team, with many of the body components being designed to be more aerodynamic, so that they would transfer the minimum amount of unwanted noise.

Interesting, other sounds, such as the tone of the engine, were increased and enhanced to improve the car’s sporting credentials and feel.

Comfort for the Masses

A major focus on the inside of the car was to improve the comfort and feel of the interior. Greater efforts were made to ventilate the interior to improve air quality, and more adjustability was available for the seats and steering wheel.

Smashing Sales Records

Once again, the Corolla was at the top when it came to sales. In 1990, the Corolla range sold an incredible 308,000 units in Japan, a new record in annual sales for a brand. This record would stand for 20 years until the Toyota’s own Prius would beat it in 2010.

Seventh-Generation Corolla (1991)

By the time the seventh-gen car launched in 1992 , the Corolla was undoubtedly the world’s most popular car and was fast approaching the record for the highest sales of any nameplate. The seventh Corolla model looked to build upon the success of the previous generation model. It was more refined, larger, faster, and safer.

As Akihiko Saito’s sixth-gen Corolla had proven to be a major hit, he was put in charge of the design team for a second time.

More Powerful & Efficient

To enhance the Corolla’s performance and improve fuel efficiency a redeveloped version of the 2E engine was introduced. This new 1.3-litre engine was known as the 4E-FE and it featured a total of 4-valves per cylinder, fuel injection and a DOHC layout. The previous gen 2E power unit only had 3-valves per cylinder and carburettor fuelling.

With the updates made, power was increased from 74 to 87 brake horsepower and torque was raised to 111 Nm (82 lb ft) at 4,800 rom.

The 1.6-litre power unit was also revised with the updates increasing power to 113 hp at 6,000 rpm and 145 Nm (107 lb ft) of torque at 4,800 rpm. This meant that 1.6-litre equipped models could accelerate from 0 – 100 km/h (62 mph) in just under 10 seconds and hit a maximum top speed of 195 km/h (121 mph).

Perhaps the most impressive feature of the new engines was their fuel efficiency. The 1.3-litre cars could hit 4.4 L/100 km (53.5 mpg) at a constant 90 km/h (56 mph) cruise, while 1.6-litre models could do 4.7 L/100 km (50 mpg).

In March 1993, a range topping 118 hp 1.8-litre engine known as the 7A-FE was introduced in some markets. Unfortunately, this engine only offered a slight boost in performance with the 0 – 100 km/h (62 mph) time dropping to 9.5 seconds.

Suspension & Brake Changes

As the Corolla was now larger, Toyota had to redefine and redevelop the MacPherson strut suspension setup. They decided to fix the front suspension to the body in four places, while the rear was fixed in six places. Other changes included increased track widths at both the front and the rear, rear anti-roll bars on all models, and ventilated front brake discs as standard.

Greater Quality Control & Features

One of the biggest improvements of the new car was the greater adoption of galvanised steel for the body shell. This time almost 90% of the bodyshell was galvanised, a 50% increase over the previous gen model. The total number of externally body panels also decreased to give an overall cleaner appearance.

Another area of improvement was the body stiffness. Through the use of high-tensile steel, stiffer subframes and suspension mounting points, and more local strengthening measures, Toyota managed to greatly increase the Corolla’s chassis & body stiffness.

Unwanted road noise and vibrations were reduced by isolating all moving components from the body with damping mounts. Additionally, special foam was inserted in various parts of the body to help reduce unwanted resonance even further.

A Larger Interior

The interior was a major focal point for the design team. They aimed to produce the quietest interior in the Corolla’s class and increased overall passenger and luggage space. Toyota was able to achieve this as the overall size of the Corolla was increased.

Eighth-Generation Corolla (1995)

The eighth-generation Corolla marked a new era for Toyota. They dropped the ‘world car’ approach of the previous generation models and decided to alter the design of the car for various different markets.

Japanese buyers could get their hands on the new car in 1995, but European and North American buyers would have to wait until 1997. European and North American models also received a distinct new appearance that was more rounded than their Japanese spec counterpart.

This ‘splitting’ of the Corolla range was mainly done to further improve sales of the model in both Japan and international markets.

Revised Engines

With the ever-increasing demand for more fuel efficient and environmentally friendly cars, Toyota decided to completely rework the Corolla’s engine lineup. The petrol engines were modified to provide flatter torque curves at low-to-medium engine speeds and the 1ZZ-FE engine was found in some non-Japanese Corollas for the first time.

The 1ZZ engine featured an aluminium engine block with aluminium cylinder heads, which made it quite a bit lighter than many of the other power units in the Corolla lineup (the A series with a cast iron engine block for example).

To improve fuel efficiency, drivability and power, Toyota gave the 2.0-litre diesel engine an electronically controlled injection pump This boosted power to 71 horsepower and 132 Nm (97 lb ft) of torque.

Optimised Body Structure & Body Styles for All

While the updates made to the Corolla’s engine range helped to improve fuel economy, one of the biggest areas of improvement was the 70kg lower weight of the eighth-gen car. This was achieved via extensive use of high-strength steel and computer analysis to optimise the body structure of the Corolla.

Once again Toyota offered a large variety of body styles for all buyers: four-door sedan, three-door hatchback, five-door liftback and a five-door estate. The liftback model was around 170mm longer than the hatchback, making it an excellent option for those wanting a bit more practicality at a reasonable price.

The European Corolla’s design was arguably the most radical of all the models, with all four body styles adopting a somewhat comical and happy front-end that gave the car a distinctive appearance. Toyota GB and their other European counterparts played a big role in the design of the European Corolla.

The style of the European Corolla was influenced by some of Toyota’s other models, most notably the Celica coupe and the RAV4.

While European and Japanese buyers could choose from a range of different body styles, North American customers were limited to sedan versions of the eighth-generation Corolla.

More for Your Money

Compared to the previous generation model, the new Corolla offered both more equipment and safety features such as three-point centre seatbelts, standard twin air bags and remote central locking on all models. Depending on the trim-level selected, the Corolla could come with an electric sunroof, air conditioning, a CD player and more.

Corolla G6 and G6R

European buyers had the option of purchasing a special edition version of the Corolla known as the G6. Pre-facelifted models were powered by a 1.3-litre 4E-FE or 1.6-litre 4A-FE engine, while those that came after the mid-cycle revision featured a 1.4-litre 4ZZ-FE or a 1.6-litre 3ZZ-FE engine.

The G6 Corolla was also given colour-matched bumpers, a unique close-ratio 6-speed C161/162 transmission, four-wheel disc brakes and 15-inch OZ racing Super Turismo rims (only available at selected dealers).

To celebrate their win of the 1999 World Rally Championship Manufacturers’ title, Toyota decided to introduce the G6R. This was based on the 1.6-litre pre-facelift G6 with a number of extras that included a lightweight aluminium bonnet/hood, a colour-matched bumpers and side skirts, unique 15-inch alloy wheels, red seat belts and special commemorative badges. Toyota only offered this model in the United Kingdom, Germany, Span and the Netherlands.

1999 – 2000 Mid-Cycle Facelift

Major updates for the eighth-generation Corolla came in 1999 for the 2000 model year, despite the car approaching the end of its production run. European Corollas were given a different bonnet, fenders, headlights, grills and front bumper that shifted the car’s appearance more inline with that o the Avensis.

Two new 16-valve petrol engines – a 1.4-litre and a 1.6-litre – were added to the range and featured Toyota’s much-loved Variable Valve Timing-intelligent (VVT-i) system. A reliable and robust 1.9-litre indirect injection diesel engine was also introduced to meet Europe’s new tougher emissions standards that came into force from October 1999.

Changes weren’t just limited to the exterior appearance and the power unit range. Toyota’s engineers also updated the body structure by adding extra floor cross members and liftback models were also fitted with a brace across the rear suspension.

On the inside, the new and improved Corolla featured an updated range of seat and trim materials. The dashboard housing was also updated to feature an integrated multi-function display that could be specified with satellite navigation (at the buyer’s expensive).

The Corolla Becomes the Best-Selling Nameplate of all Time

While the Corolla had already been the best-selling car for years, it wasn’t until June 1997 that it would become the best-selling nameplate of all time, surpassing that of the Volkswagen Beetle. Total sales for all the Corolla generations reached 23.5 million, with nine million of them being sold in Japan.

Ninth-Generation Corolla (2000)

With competition in the world of motoring becoming ever more fierce, Toyota needed something special that would bring their model range into the 21st century. The Corolla now accounted for 20% of Toyota’s entire annual sales worldwide, so it was vitally important that they get the design right.

This monumental task was given to chief engineer Takeshi Yoshida and work on the ninth-generation car began in the late nineties. However, Toyota and Yoshida had a problem. The Japanese economy was in poor shape and buyers were starting to prefer compact multi-purpose vehicles (MPVs) instead of the more traditional offerings.

Rather than looking to the Corolla’s highest volume markets, Yoshida decided to develop the ninth-generation car with the demanding European market in mind. He believed that if they focused on that market, they could produce a higher quality car overall.

Power Units

Altogether, the ninth-gen Corolla was offered with nine different engines that covered a wide range of uses (although not all of them were available in every market). For this generation, all petrol engines featured Toyota’s variable valve timing technology that improved both power and fuel efficiency. Diesel engines also received some attention with the latest rail fuelling system from the D-4D range.

Petrol engine options ranged from the 1.3-litre inline four-cylinder 2NZ-FE engine all the way to the 2.0-litre inline four-cylinder 2ZZ-GE. Buyers who wanted a diesel engined car had the option of either the 1.4-litre I4 1ND-TV D-4D or the 2.0-litre I4 1CD-FTV D-4D.

Depending on the power unit selected, the ninth-generation Corolla could come with a range of different transmission options, including a 4-speed automatic, 5- and 6-speed manual, and a 5-speed multimode manual transmission. The multimode transmission was essentially an automated manual transmission (AMT), that could either be used as a fully-automatic or a semi-automatic.

New Style

The ninth-generation Corolla became available in Japan from August 2000, however, export markets would have to wait until 2001 or 2002 to get their hands on the new model. Initially, the Corolla was available as either a sedan or estate (known as the Corolla fielder in Japan), but a five-door hatchback became available from January 2001. A further three-different body styles became available at a later date: the European-only three-door hatchback, an MPV model and a soft-roader (essentially a four-wheel drive station wagon).

The design of the new Corolla was intended to be both youthful and sophisticated. Toyota, wanted to create a car that would not only appeal to the family car market, but also those who wanted something a bit more stylish.

Along with creating a stylish body, aerodynamic performance was a major focal point for the Toyota design team. Aerodynamic efficiency was improved through the development of a flat underbody and the addition of body parts to direct air away from the wheel wells and other draggy parts of the car.

Higher Quality Interior

The ninth-generation Corolla was the first car to receive the benefits of Toyota’s new Interior Study Team. This new design team consisted of a group of specialists and designers from around the world who looked at future trends and improvements in interior finishes.

What they decided was that the new Corolla’s interior should feature soft touch plastics rather than the harder, more brittle plastics from older models. They also focused on improving the positioning and visibility of all the dials and switches.

In the pursuit of quality, Toyota’s engineers even went as far as to calibrate the weight and sound of the doors and locks to make the car feel more premium. Many other features from Toyota’s premium brand Lexus also made their way into the interior of the ninth-gen Corolla, such as the soft-close glovebox.

Chassis & Suspension Changes

To improve both handling and comfort, Toyota looked to redesign the MacPherson suspension at the front and the trailing arm torsion beam or double wishbone suspension at the rear (double wishbone suspension was limited to four-wheel drive Corollas).

Engineers also decided to fit the car with anti-roll bars and major improvements were made to the steering mechanism and the power steering system. Toyota fitted some ninth-generation Corollas with their new electronic assistance system, which helped to improve fuel economy.

The Corolla Compressor

Some lucky UK based buyers had the option of purchasing the extremely rare Corolla Compressor. This hot-hatch Corolla went on sale from the 1st November 2005 and it featured a supercharger conversion that boosted power and torque of the 2ZZ-GE to 215 bhp and 215 Nm (159 lb ft).

The upgrades and extra features weren’t just limited to the engine however, the car was also given a more aggressive bodykit and unique, sporty wheels. The car’s suspension system also received some attention with the biggest visual change being that it was quite a bit lower than the standard car.

Over 30 Million Corollas Sold

By the end of the ninth-generation Corolla’s production run, nearly 32 million Corolla models had been sold and produced. While competition from both Japanese and international manufacturers was intensifying, the Corolla still proved to be the most popular car in the world.

Tenth Generation Corolla (2006)

By 2006 it was time for a new Corolla, but this generation was a bit different. In Europe the Corolla was mostly replaced by the Auris, as Toyota felt that it more closely aligned with the existing Avensis and Yaris model lines.

The Auris also replaced the Corolla hatchback in Japan, with the most luxurious Auris model being known as the Toyota Blade. Interestingly, both Toyota New Zealand and Australia resisted the name change, and decided to keep selling the car under the Corolla nameplate (as it was still essentially a Corolla).

Toyota continued to use the Corolla name for sedan and estate/station wagon models in both Japan and export markets). However, the Japanese and export market models were a bit different.

While the ninth-gen Corolla was available from October 2006 in Japan, some export markets would have to wait until 2008 (North America for example) for the car to become available.

A Smaller Corolla for Japan

In Japan, the Corolla was smaller than the vehicles destined for the export market. This was done so that the car could remain in compliance with the Japanese Government’s regulations for exterior dimensions and engine displacement.

The Japanese Corolla was based on the Toyota MC platform from the previous generation car and was given the designation E140. American, Southeast Asian and Middle Eastern Corolla’s were also given this designation, but they were overall larger than their Japanese counterparts. Models sold in Australia, New Zealand, Europe and South Africa were all based on a new version of the MC platform with more sophisticated underpinnings.

Auris Goes Hybrid, Corolla Gets a New Range of Engines

Once again, the Corolla was offered with a vast array of petrol engines from the 1.3-litre inline four-cylinder 2NZ-FE to the 1.8-litre 2ZR-FE inline four-cylinder engine. Two diesel models were also offered: the 1.4-litre 1ND-TV D-4D and the 2.0-litre 1CD-FTV D-4D.

The most interesting engine options were reserved for Auris badged models. In 2010, Toyota decided to strip out the hybrid powertrain and batteries from the Prius and fit it into the Auris. This significantly improved fuel economy, a major plus for the demanding European market.

Those who wanted the most powerful engine option would have to purchase the Toyota Blade. The Blade was fitted with a 276 horsepower 3.5-litre 2GR-FE V6 engine, making it one of the most powerful (if not the most powerful) Corolla based models produced. Blade models also cam with larger brakes, upgraded suspension and additional features.

With the introduction of the new generation, the available transmission options also grew.

  • 5-speed manual
  • 6-speed manual
  • 7-Speed CVT-i
  • 4-speed U140E Super ECT automatic
  • 5-speed U150E automatic

Evolution not a Revolution

The overall exterior design of the Corolla and Auris models was more of an evolution rather than a revolution. Toyota gave the car an overall smother, more rounded appearance that was up to date with modern designs. The smother appearance also aided in the pursuit of even greater fuel efficiency.

Additional Features

On some Corolla models, buyers had the option of purchasing Toyota’s intelligent parking-assist system that was originally developed for Prius and Lexus badged models. A backup camera was standard on some models and features such as Bluetooth connectivity, automatic climate control and more were fitted to most models.

Eleventh-Generation Corolla (2012)

Big changes were on the way for the eleventh version of the Corolla. Fuel efficiency was more important than ever, and Toyota needed to update the looks of the car to bring it more into line with modern standards.

Different Platforms & an Updated Look

Once again, the Auris name was used for the hatchback model in Europe and Japan, and the car was based on different platforms depending on the market it was intended for.

Japanese Corolla models were given the designation E160 and were based on Toyota’s B platform that was also used for the Vitz/Yaris and the Prius C. The E160 Corolla was shorter in length and narrower in width, and the engines were kept under 2.0-litres, so that it could be in compliance with the Japanese Government’s dimension and engine size regulations. This meant that Japanese buyers would pay a reduced rate for their road tax, a major selling point.

Export market Corollas were based on the new MC platform and were given the designation E170, while Auris models were labelled the E180.

The styling was also completely revised with a new more chiselled look that gave both Corolla and Auris models a more aggressive appearance. Perhaps the biggest exterior change was the lights. Gone were the rounded, somewhat cute front headlights and rear taillights, and in their place were angular units that made the Corolla/Auris look much more sophisticated.

For this generation, the Auris was not only available as a hatchback, but also an estate/station wagon was well (Touring Sport). Corolla models were available in a range of body styles from hatchbacks to sedans, station wagons and more.

Hybrid Corolla & Other Powertrain Options

While the Auris received the hybrid treatment in the previous generation, it wasn’t until this generation that the Corolla would get a hybrid option as well. The hybrid system was mated to the 1NZ-FXE inline four-cylinder engine and total power and torque figures were 73 horsepower and 111 Nm (82 lb ft) respectively. All Corolla models with a hybrid system featured Toyota’s E-CVT transmission.

Japanese Corolla models were only offered with a total of four different engine options (including the hybrid). These ranged from the 1.3-litre 1NR-FE I4 to the 1.8-litre 2ZR-FE I4. Transmission options were also much more limited than previous generations with only a 5-speed manual or a CVT transmission being available for Japanese domestic cars.

Both international and domestic Auris models were fitted with a similar range of engines, but diesel power units were available in some markets. The hybrid Auris (available at a later date) also featured a larger 1.8-litre VVT-i engine rather than the 1.5-litre one from the Japanese-spec Corolla. This hybrid engine was also found in international Corolla models. T

E170 Corollas were fitted with petrol engines ranging from the turbocharged 1.2-litre 8NR-FTS to the 2.0-litre 3ZR-FE, and two 1.6-litre diesel engines were available. Transmission options were also more diverse with both 5- and 6-speed manual options available, a 4-speed automatic and a 7/8-speed CVT transmission (these options depended on the market).

The Corolla Gets a Facelift

Both the Japan-spec Corolla Axio and Corolla Fielder (station wagon) were given a facelift in April 2015. The changes made to the two cars consisted of a new raised front bumper, revised headlamps with LED projector lenses, revise front fenders, updated taillights, and Toyota’s Safety Sense collision avoidance system. A facelifted version of the Auris was also introduced in April 2015 as well.

A second facelift for Japanese models was introduced two and a half years later and consisted of a revised front bumper and grille, the addition of intelligent clearance sonar, and the adoption of Toyota Safety Sense on all cars.

E170 Corolla models would have to wait until 2016 (2017 model year) to receive a facelift. The changes to the car were similar to those made to the Japanese-spec model and included sleeker LED headlights with new LED light guides, a full width lower grille, redesigned taillights, interior changes and more.

Twelfth-Generation Corolla (2018)

While the twelfth-generation Corolla was originally unveiled under the Auris name, Toyota decided to drop the nameplate and return to using the Corolla name for all models (although the Auris name was retained for the Taiwanese market).

A Familiar but New Appearance

The new generation Corolla continued down the path that the eleventh-gen model had set, with a more angular, hard-edged appearance. This somewhat aggressive, yet modern design brought the Corolla up to date with its competition.

Like previous generations, the Corolla was offered as a hatchback (now under the Corolla name), station wagon/estate, and a sedan. The Chinese and European markets received a sedan model known as the Prestige, which was given a new front end that was more in line with that of the Camry’s. Prestige models are also available in Taiwan and Southeast Asian markets under the Corolla Altis name.

Another variation of the sedan was the Corolla Sporty. This model features the front-end from the hatchback and station wagon versions of the Corolla. The Sporty is available in various different markets, including North America, Japan, Australia and more.

More Power Options

One of the problems that put many potential buyers off the previous generation Corolla was the lack of more powerful engine options. With this in mind, Toyota decided to expand the power units on offer for the twelfth-generation Corolla.

A new 2.0-litre M20A hybrid powertrain with nearly 180 horsepower was introduced to try and persuade these potential customers. For those who don’t need so much power, Toyota continues to offer the 1.8-litre 2ZR hybrid powertrain and several standard petrol engines ranging from 1.2 – 1.8-litres in size.

Depending on what powertrain option is selected, buyers have the choice of a 6-speed manual, 7-speed CVT, a 7/8-speed Super CVT-i or an eCVT transmission.

A More Luxurious Interior

While the eleventh-gen car’s interior was considered to be excellent for its price point, Toyota needed to do more to stay ahead of the competition. They introduced more features and redesigned the interior to be more futuristic and angular, so that it would match the excellent new exterior.

New Performance Options

With a renewed interest in performance models, Toyota is looking to introduce more powerful offerings into the Corolla lineup.

The most anticipated of these is the Toyota GR Corolla. This turbocharged hot hatch is hopefully going to be available for the 2022 model year, however, the Coronavirus pandemic may push that timeline out further.

The GR Corolla is reported to be able to make as much as 257 horsepower and 360 Nm (266 lb ft) of torque from its turbocharged 1.6-litre engine, a massive increase over the most powerful Corolla currently available. Along with the engine upgrades, the GR will also feature a stiffer suspension setup, more powerful brakes, and a custom bodykit.


  • Ben

    From his early days playing the original Gran Turismo and with his Hot Wheels car set, Ben has had a long interest in all things automotive. His first foray into the world of automotive journalism was way back in 2009 and since then he has only grown more interested in the industry. Ben also runs and heads up the video production side of Garage Dreams, focusing on small informative documentaries about some of the world's most legendary cars.

11 thoughts on “The Complete History of the Toyota Corolla”

  1. I use 1987 Corolla Japanese domestic model ,in Pakistan with 2 e 1.3 litre manual transmission sedan , very good fuel consumption ,almost 20 km per litre at 90 km constant speed which Is less than Suzuki 800 cc .
    2007 Corolla 2 nz fe 1.3 litre manual transmission is my second Corolla, also good , but 87 Corolla I feel better road grip at turn , and at speed above 120 km per h

  2. Corolla is excellent manifacturing product I’m Dinesh in Sri Lanaka. My grandad father has Corolla car it has been performing well for around 3 decade. All features are working up to now. Durability is 100%.

    • Thanks for commenting! Corollas are great cars for sure – not surprised to hear of one going for 30+ years with no problems to report. Look after a Corolla and it will look after you for a lifetime.

  3. Well, it was quite interesting reading this. Thankyou for taking time to impart us with all this knowledge. My dad owns a toyota 6th generation, she has been running for about 6 years now. I’m Daniel from Namibia.

    • Thanks for taking the time to read and comment Daniel. I believe you are our first commenter from Namibia, so congratulations!

      I’m sure your dad’s Corolla will keep going for many more years.

  4. Planning to change my Kia Rio 2018 that has given me so much great adventures as this is my 1st brand new car I’ve ever purchased in my short 28 years life. It has given me so many helpful situations that I couldn’t imagine. However I’ve always wanted a Corolla as my brother had an Eight Gen. Corolla that was confort, reliable and well in gasoline consumption,

    I might be start looking for a 12th Gen. Corolla, however I need to wait till end of 2022 so I can legally import it to Mexico.

    Your article helped me to decide that I really want this car so much. Thank you. Warm regards from Mty, MX.

    • Thanks for your kind comment! I think you are our first commenter from Mexico … you can’t go wrong with a Corolla so hopefully you find a good one.

  5. Leading the pack with an outdated suspension(?)
    When Toyota decided to stick with a solid rear axle, even leaf springs, for a rear suspension of the third “KE 30” generation Corolla, the company earned a lot of criticism from automotive journalists. Not that the highly praised rallye legend Ford Escort had any different a setup. But all criticism aside, my first car was a 1977 Corolla coupe, on purpose, simply for it’s lively, playful handling, and I started a limited local motorsports career with this car, my role model being the 2nd generation TE27s collecting trophies on and off pavement while being indistructable.
    I really loved my Toyota surprisingly often outrunning Golf GTIs with twice the horsepower whenever road conditions denied regular traction.
    To this day, I have only found one other car which offers the same completely predicable handling as my former KE35 Corolla, able to set up the car for corners of any radius then controlling its drift without the least bit of drama or stress behind the wheel – and even feeling perfectly safe performing the same exercise downhill on a winding mountain road: Toyota;s famous, equally low-mass, well-balanced 5th generation “AE 86” Corolla Coupe.
    My original amateur motosports companion is now part of a private collection run by a friend in Germany,
    Admittedly, I have partly switched to BMW in the classic domain – simply for the ease of getting parts right over the counter at any dealership – after it became almost impossible to get parts for the several classic Toyotas we owned up to the mid 2000s.
    But I will never forget – and miss – my 1977 Corolla. … – and yes. I do own the same model again, this one in pristine condition (too nice to rallye).
    Happy Motoring,
    Wolfhard Geile.

  6. Corolla lost it’s fan here in Indonesia, since people here prefer SUV, MPV, hatchback with lower price than a Corolla (it’s called Corolla Altis here) .. Only around 50 units sold each month here

    This made 12th gen still use the “old” 2ZR engine (they drop 3ZR engine option sinch 11th gen), it only have CVT transmission, dropped M/T option since this generation. It has hybrid option though.

    As Corolla fan this made me sad. Corolla used to be popular around 90s here

    • Thanks for commenting. Similar story here in NZ (although you still do see a lot of new Corollas but many of them are fleet/business vehicles ore rental cars). Most private buyers prefer SUVs/CUVs.


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