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MZEA12 Corolla hatch

Mechanical Sympathy

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Well after 16 years of faithful, faultless motoring in my NCP10 Echo - I got a flat tyre. So I bought a new car!

I'd been watching the development and release of the new Corolla and last weekend I put a deposit down on a 'Blue Flame/Eclectic Blue'  manual Ascent Sport with the factory option Satnav/privacy glass/Double J radio pack.

Evidently nobody buys manual cars anymore, let alone bright blue ones optioned with Double J radio, so at worst it will be on the slow boat from Japan to arrive "before Christmas!"

I would love to have bought a 6 speed ZR but the geniuses at Toyota Australia didn't think they'd sell any. It strikes me that Toyota's best cars are often their cheapest anyway. 

Nonetheless I was fairly impressed with the standard equipment, particularly the rev-matching gearbox, radar cruise control and speed sign reading. And I think Toyota have made a pearler of an engine in the M20A-FKS.

The Ascent misses a couple of cool options that the SX gets, such as keyless entry and folding mirrors. But I figured I could add or arrange to get a couple of the other fruits myself, like the fog lights, leather wrapped steering wheel and a couple of silver garnishes. But there's no way I'm buying a CVT, launch gear or not.

I've uncovered the part number for the USDM stick-on rear wing, and have hit the dealer up for a set of 18' wheels should someone happen to swap them out for some Rotas.

Has anyone else had a drive or a look? The blue probably isn't to everyone's taste, but I've come from 16 years of silver.




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I had a drive of a new ford mondeo something (work car) and it had the radar based cruise control. Absolutely bloody brilliant! Probably the best new car feature i have experienced. 

hows the interior on these things? is it an improvement over the last few corollas? where it feels like the inside of a plastic milk bottle?

18" wheels on a corolla, who would have thought:)

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It's fair to say that I'm coming from a low base with in the Echo Dave, but I was generally impressed.

It felt like a nice place to be, even in the Sport, which just seems to lose a couple of silver garnishes on the wheel and dash over the SX, and the push button start. Soft plastics and piano black glossy bits throughout.

The big central table seems contemporary (read, I reckon it'll date once tablets go out of vogue. It looks awkward in photos) but hey everyone is doing it. And it seemed well functional with voice recognition for texts/calls/music/directions. And doesn't obstruct the view from the drivers seat. The seats are grouse.




Ascent Sport manual



I'm certainly keen to source a wing and a set of 18s once they come onto the 2nd hand market. (nb USDM yellow indicators - we get clear)




part number PT29A1219508 apparently just "glues" onto the standard wing. Toyota Australia really shit me that they don't get onto the desirable accessories. We get useless bonnet stone protectors instead.



Edited by Mechanical Sympathy
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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...

Well the Blue Meanie is scheduled for production tomorrow, with delivery  just over a month later.

Happy to report that the spoiler arrived safely in the meantime! 

However the listing and installation instructions referred to a drilling template that hasn't made the journey.

With the tyranny of distance and timezones I haven't quite been able to figure out from the seller whether it was included at his end or even if a template is provided at all - despite having it's own part number PT29A-12195-TL.

It would seem that eBay have repackaged the item in the US as part of their "Global Shipping Program" before processing through customs and sending to me, and I suspect that the plastic sheet template was probably considered unnecessary extra packaging and thrown out.

But the seller has been very helpful in providing me with the instructions and I think I could probably fashion my own template once I have both the car and spoiler in front of me - next month!






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  • 1 month later...

With parts loaded into the boot and 11km on the odometer I headed over to a mate's place - because he has a steadier hand than me.

Following the comprehensive instructions to mount the spoiler was a breeze, approximately a one-stubbie job.

By the time I'd taped each of the dozen hold down points (tape 1st, tape 2nd etc.) the template was taught and flat, then it was just a case of punching each of the five holes with an automatic centre punch and drilling into the Lego plastic hatch with a 9mm bit and a drill bit stop collar for a maximum 10mm depth.

I had sourced from China some chrome grill accent pieces for $55. I wasn't sure in the preceding weeks whether I was going to put them on, or not, but they fit and look grouse.

I gave Main Roads back my front white/maroon number plate and ordered some white on black plates  n the standard number, with a slimline front plate, no diamond.



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I think the $55 Chine'e chrome came our just fine. And it may confuse trainspotters who might otherwise realise that the silver bits are reserved for the $9000 more expensive model.

It strikes me that some of the exterior differentiators between grades are either no/low cost, or even that I prefer some of the base grade features. I much prefer the Ascent rear bumper over the faux chrome exhaust tips on the ZR for example.

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It is very.. blue.

It feels fabulous to drive. Obviously I'm coming off a low base with the KE55 and the Echo, though I've driven enough newer cars to know that an Echo feels better to drive than say, a Ford Ranger.

Nontheless corners and bumps that I know would unsettle both those cars are soaked up in silence. Fanging it around corners and roundabouts feels planted and secure at speeds that would have the Echo's tyres howling.

The engine is a ripper. It's torquey right from down low - not turbo torquey - but is punchy and really happy to be revved out, which would please any 4AGE/2TG aficionados. A product of the seemingly incompatible long stroke matched with the outrageous 13:1 compression ratio and electronically variable valve timing sees it swing enthusiastically toward the 6800rpm limit with a sporty sounding growl toward the top end

iMT 6 speed is a delight. It's light and snickety - you can change with your fingertips while resting your elbow on the centre console. I giggled out loud the first time I downshifted from 4th to 2nd and the revs automatically blipped to ~5000rpm, with an immediacy to the acceleration as I floored it and an accompanying roar . It will be fun on twisty bits.

The tech is as excellent as it is extensive. I took a friend for a drive who had just bought a late model 2nd hand C-class Merc and she remarked how it had a lot of the features her car has, and probably others it doesn't.

The radar cruise control works even while you change gears and (I believe) can be set to match the speed sign recognition, which already paid for itself by telling me off while I trundled through a patrolled school zone yesterday.

The attract sequence on the dash when you fire it up, with swinging needles and colourful lights makes me feel warm and fuzzy. Same with the folding mirrors.

Live traffic updates, Digital radio. Heck you can even check out the BOM rain radar on the screen.

At night the front and rear LED lights are gorgeous.

IMO it's a great time to buy a new car now, with all the tech that's trickled down to even $15k base model cars. I'm delighted with this one.

Edited by Mechanical Sympathy
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Niggles, or things I wish were different;

Toyota Australia's decision to homologate cars with hybrid and CVT drivetrains over manual transmissions sucks.

I would've liked to buy a manual SX or ZR, but it was put to me that I'm in the 1% who do.

Oh well, at least the cheapest Corolla is the fastest amiright?

But buying the cheapest model (though speccing it up with Satnav/privacy) means no smart key, and there is no illumination on the key hole at night. Meaning I'll fumble with that until I get used to it.

And I should've been able to specify the 18" wheels.

And the boot is a little small.

But that's it!

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