For 2017, Toyota has a new Corolla, the Japanese brand’s best-selling car on the Irish market.

The Corolla appeals to those who want a safe and reliable car with plenty of rear legroom and spacious concealed boot space.

The new-look Corolla remains identifiable as a Toyota and now it’s been tweaked to give it a more modern look.

This is a car that’s grown in size over recent years as it edges into the bigger car sector of the market.

Ireland is still a market where saloon cars sell in high numbers. The Corolla has been a popular choice and has been the best-selling car in this segment of the Irish market so far in 2017 after more than 3,750 were sold in 2016.

For 2017 it leads its segment of the market.

The boot design is still preferred by many over the hatchback option, giving a great level of load security as well as additional carrying capacity.

Skoda offers a similar option in the Octavia with both a boot and a hatchback feel, while the Volkswagen Jetta is seen as one of the other obvious competitors along with the saloon or four-door version of the Ford Focus. Overall, it’s a narrow competition zone as the Corolla and Octavia battle it out for the top slot.

I’ve had the new Corolla powered by the modest 1.4-litre turbo-diesel engine out in test in recent weeks. The car is instantly impressive in terms of styling both inside and out. The dash layout has been improved to give a cleaner more modern look topped off with an impressive 7 inch touch screen system.

I found that the car provides great interior space. Seat adjustment is good with up to 60mm (3in) sliding movement and 16 levels of height adjustment. The steering wheel angle has extra adjustment and when I was in my most comfortable driving position there was impressive rear legroom.

Toyota claims that the new Corolla has 85mm (3.5in) more rear knee room than the best of the competitors.

You’ll be impressed with the engine smoothness rather than the power. For some about-town driving the new Corolla is so smooth that sometimes you wonder if it’s a diesel or not.

Out on the motorways and over longer journeys the engine feels under powered forcing you to drive at over 2200rpm and pushing your driving style into a less economical zone.

Overall, with over 1200km driven in the Corolla I found that the economy figures were about 20% off the rated one of 25km/litre (4.0/100km or 70mpg). That’s a reasonable return for a car that has good space capacity.

This Corolla is lighter than some of the competition and that feature was noticeable on the open road. Cross winds are noticeable as is the impact of passing heavy trucks on motorways.

This confirms for me why the Corolla is an easy and impressive car to drive as long as you drive easily.

Keep within the 100km/hr range and you’ll find the car is economical as well as being comfortable to drive.

This Corolla comes with lots of new features safety features that add to this ease of driving appeal. This is what Toyota calls its Safety Sense system and includes a lane departure warning system that’s effortless to disengage.

Hill Assist Control, Downhill Assist Control, Trailer Stability Control and Active Traction Control are also included.

Other features include rear view parking camera, dusk sensors and an automatic headlight system.

I especially liked the auto dimming headlights system and despite the lengthy test drive in what were poor driving conditions, the system worked very well.

It gave a clear warning in the panel between the dials when it needed an extra cleaning and that also helped with the automatic stop warning system, both of which are very effective and need just a little regular care.

The new Toyota Touch multimedia system is easy to use and comes with a larger 7 inch screen and a smaller 4.2 inch screen between the dials within the dash display. The information on the car’s performance and settings is easy to use.

So too was the BlueTooth setup but I found that the system was erratic in terms of the phone connection and many callers complained about poor reception so calls were dropped.

I failed to connect a second phone user to the system, which would be a useful advantage.

Entry prices for the new Corolla diesel start at €22,995 in Terra specification, while you need to add €2,000 to your spend if you opt for the higher specification Luna versions.

Overall, the car is competitive and well specified with lots of space and comfort.

This is a car that drives easily but not in a challenging way. Corolla has been the hallmark of motoring reliability and that bit you can depend on with the new model, plus it has lots of modern driver features that are presented well and new Toyota style.

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