Text and photos by Eric Tipan
‘Love life’ may not mean much to younger readers, but it was a huge campaign for the Toyota Corolla back in the late ‘90s (before it became known as the Altis), just as the local auto industry was just starting to really pick up.
Those were the days when rush hour was really only during specific times of the day and a half-an-hour drive was really just thirty minutes away. But I digress.
The latest iteration of the Corolla, better known as the Altis, comes with the chassis designation of E170 and is the 11th generation model that offers so much more upmarket features.
It’s right in the middle of the very competitive C-segment sedan market but here are some classic (and new) features that still make it a favorite until today.
The Altis, one of the very first production models to receive the ‘Keen look’ design philosophy, probably implements it the best.
With an immensely slim grille punctuated by the brand emblem, the V-shape is made more attractive by the two-lamp LED headlights with daytime running lamps and auto-levelling capability.
It may seem more low to the ground than usual because of front and rear spoilers, and side skirts, which not only makes it look cool and sporty for an average C-segment compact sedan, it’ll also make you more careful over humps, descents and inclines whether or not the cabin is fully laden or not.
The hood and windscreen’s gradient is perfectly adjusted for better aerodynamics and while it makes the Altis look more compact, the cabin is adjusted accordingly to provide space at par with segment rivals.
This trim uses a 2.0L engine with a dual VVT-i (Variable Valve Timing) system and pumps out 145-PS and 187-Nm of torque. It is pedestrian at best on Eco mode and only modestly accelerates for a more fuel-efficient performance but has the ability to excite when switched to Sport mode. Seven days of mixed driving — city and highway, in Eco and Sport modes — returned an awesome 8.5 kilometers per liter.
Regardless of the drive mode, you and passengers will get a kick out of the aggressive exhaust notes that make the drive sound faster than it really is.
Ambiance and amenities
There’s a good mix of leather (steering wheel, seats, panels) and high-quality plastics in the cabin that blend seamlessly together to make the interior feel high-end. The visible white stitching and glossy surfaces of the shifter, climate control and the large touchscreen infotainment system certainly levels it up a few notches higher.
Controls are intuitive and easy to use but since this test unit did not have a microphone, pairing my mobile device via Bluetooth was not possible.
It comes with cruise control and steering wheel buttons for audio and hands-free phone calls, plus let me add that the air-conditioning unit was so good that even at a setting of 26-degrees, real-feel was probably closer to 18.
I know that most of the above doesn’t really inspire you to give the Altis a strong second look, but hold your horses because the best is yet to come. Taking a few cues from its sporty sibling the 86, handling of the Altis has vastly improved thanks to the input you get from enhanced vehicle feedback.
Even though it isn’t any closer to the ground than the Vios, simple turns even at moderate speed feel more engaging while long bends and corners simply come alive thanks to better mechanical grip and aerodynamics of the Altis.
Love it, live it
The Altis may still be as popular as before, but it has surely taken a hit through the years for losing some of the qualities that made it such a fun drive before.
This 11th-generation is definitely long in the tooth and should be up for an ‘all-new’ in the next few but more than makes up for its age with a drive that harkens back to the golden age, the ‘Love Life’ era of the Toyota Corolla.
So before it gets replaced, make your daily dull drive more fun and exciting with the Toyota Corolla Altis 2.0V because as the kids say these days, ‘YOLO.’