Toyota Corolla Touring Sport Review
These days we expect cars to be reliable and, even in the dire UK climate, to resist rust. Toyota has built its reputation on rock-solid reliability over several decades and although other manufacturers have to a large degree caught up, it’s still the gold standard for everyday get-in-and-go. So what makes the harmless Corolla estate car an almost-perfect mode of transportation for the UK’s sizeable population of folk who think it was a smart & stable genius idea to leave the greatest union in Europe since the collapse of the Roman Empire?
It starts from the outside.
Nowadays, most electronic fobs tell the car when the driver is close, so the doors unlock according to pre-programmed instructions. For example, for the security conscious or the terminally single, only the driver’s door unlocks. For the family driver, all the doors unlock. But while the Toyota does have pushbutton starting, and hence we know the fob is radiating its I’m Here! signal, the driver must fish the fob out of a pocket and press the unlock button before all the (non-programmable) doors unlock. This is perfectly retro, just like brainless Brexiteer drooling dull-eyed over the slogan “take back control!”
But the Toyota isn’t content with a bit of backward-with-Britain pointlessness. The Toyota Corolla, like all modern automatic Toyotas sold these days, has a most delightful little foible that presumably is intended to endear it to backward-looking populists everywhere.
To understand the majesty of this foible, let’s for a moment consider what engineers call human factors. For example, if we’re deciding where to put the navigation system screen, it would be a Brexit-like decision to place it in the middle of the rear seat, thereby forcing the driver to twist around and look backward in order to see where to go. Or imagine electric window controls you have to pull up to lower the windows and push down to raise them. This would appeal to Brexiteers because they imagine up is down, backward is forward.
Toyota has clearly decided that if people are going to be completely backward and vote for atavistic nonsense like Brexit, they want to capitalize on it. So the Toyota automatic gear shifter is what they came up with. To go forward, you pull the knob backward. To go backward, you push the knob forward. What could be more intuitive for backward-looking populists? I’m a little sad that the turn signal indicator stalk operates in the usual way — Toyota missed an opportunity here. And the electric side-mirror controls likewise are boringly normal, which means that populists won’t truly feel at home unless they just smash the mirrors with a hammer on the grounds that this will absolutely definitely improve visibility.
Once underway the Toyota does its best to make Brexiteers feel at home. Just as such people waddle laboriously to the local fish & chip shop for a triple portion of greasy deep-fried chips, so the Toyota rolls and floats almost as much as an old American land barge of the 1960s and 1970s. Toyotas have never been known to be driver’s vehicles, but the new Corolla takes floundering and flabby to a new extreme — just like the Brexiteers the car is intended to appeal to. The moniker sport is attached to the vehicle as a subliminal joke on people who call themselves athletic because they watch lots of sports on television.
Carrying the dysfunctional appeal further, the car’s B pillars are located so as to make it practically impossible to glance over one’s shoulder to check the road before changing lane. But what flag-waving Brexiteer would ever dream of thinking about something before doing it? The notion that any of these people, behind the wheel, would even know about checking over the shoulder is risible, and so the Toyota’s blind spot is ideally situated for people whose entire mental apparatus is one big blind spot.
The Corolla is flabby, annoying, poorly conceived, and backward. It’s also boring and dull. This really does sound like a perfect car for Brexiteers.
But unfortunately for Toyota there are several insurmountable problems. First of all, it’s not covered in Union flags and so it’s not really patriotic. Secondly, someone who can read is bound eventually to explain to Brexiteers that Toyotas aren’t made in the UK (which is why they don’t fall apart when the driver coughs). As the fundamental principle shared by all patriotic Brexiteers is the desire to “get rid of f*cking foreigners” and “buy British” it is hardly to be imagined that these fine patriots will contemplate buying a car that’s “f*cking foreign.”
And it’s not big enough. The steering wheel has modest up-and-down adjustment but no adjustment backward and forward. How is any self-respecting waddling Brexiteer going to squeeze their corpulent bulk into position when the steering wheel can’t be canted up and back to admit entry and exit? How is any populist with meat on their bones going to fit into those teeny-tiny seats? And though the sound insulation is quite poor for a modern car, and thus redolent of the interior noise you’d find in an old Brit clunker, the brakes don’t fail unexpectedly, the electrics work consistently, and the engine always starts when the button is pushed.
Still on the theme of reliability we find that unlike true patriotic British cars of old, parts don’t fall off as the vehicle lurches down the road. The engine doesn’t grind to a halt due to atrociously poor tolerances resulting from the complacent continued use of worn-out machinery. The windows don’t leak, so occupants remain disappointingly dry though the endless British drizzle. The trim doesn’t come adrift, and nor do the various adhesives used in the vehicle smell like old dog vomit. The shut-lines are smooth, nothing is bodged or fudged, everything works as it should. In short, the Toyota fails to remind the driver of the good old days of British automotive manufacturing.
This just isn’t true patriotism in automotive form. It’s too reliable, too…. well, just too foreign. And what sort of name is Corolla? To appeal to Brexiteers, the car should be called something like the Patriot, the Crusher, the Dominator, the Soloist, the StandAlone, the DimWit, the Moron, or even the GreasyChip or the LagerMaster. But no. It’s called the Corolla, which doesn’t appeal to anyone’s patriotic instinct at all.
And so the Toyota Corolla is, very ironically and just like Brexit itself, a totally misconceived failure.