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Toyota Corolla hybrid

It will hardly come as a surprise when I tell you that the new Toyota Corolla is absolutely brilliant.

Why? Because it’s the world’s best selling car, and has been since it overtook Ford’s F-Series truck sales figure of 34 million vehicles in 2012.

To be fair, the F-Series had a head start. Production began in 1948, a massive 18 years before the Corolla first saw the light at the end of the production line, in 1966.

For a while the Volkswagen Beetle led the world, with sales hitting over 21 million before the Corolla overtook that in 1998.

The Beetle had an even better start than the F-Series, which gave it an extra 10 years, being built from 1938 to 2003. When the old Beetle ceased production VW had sold 21,529,464 of the things.

By the time the last Beetle rolled out of its final Mexican factory in July, 2019, sales had topped 22 million.

Even so, that figure pales in comparison to the VW Golf, now the world’s third best-selling car with more than 30 million being made and still going strong.

So what of the Corolla, now back in the picture since it gave way to the Toyota Auris in 2006?

It will go on racking up its current world record sales figure of 44.2 million cars, no doubt about it.

Mind you, I won’t be buying one. I’ll tell you the reason for that later, but it would be unfair to start on a downbeat note for what is undoubtedly a tremendous car.

From the moment I drove it I genuinely believed that here was the first car I would actually own, for myself, since I sold my last car, a V6 Honda Legend, to my cousin Jim in 1996.

The Honda made way for the arrival of my first ever test car, a yellow Ford Focus which I nicknamed The Banana.

That was followed by another 1,500 cars until I started writing The Real Motormouth in April this year, and the cars keep coming.

One day, I thought, this will all end and the car with which I shall restart my life will be this one, the new Toyota Corolla.

I couldn’t get over how good it was. Surely it’s the quietest medium-sized car I’ve ever driven apart from full electric cars.

The Corolla is, for the moment, a semi-electric hybrid and it makes you aware of that straight away when you start the “engine”.

Well, you don’t really, even if you press the accelerator pedal the Corolla stays completely silent on electric power until its petrol engine comes to life when it’s asked to do more than just slip silently along at speeds up to a surprising 70mph.

Its combination of an ultra fuel efficient 2.0-litre engine, a 650 volt electric motor and a 180-cell, 216-volt nickel-metal hydride battery means that half of the Corolla’s usage is taken care of electrically. That’s why it effortlessly averages 50mpg.

I’m not surprised that when I first met the Corolla it was love at first sight.

My test car came in an achingly attractive Denim Blue metallic paint job that was so gorgeous even my next door neighbour liked it. And believe me, living next door she’s seen more car colours than most people.

Its interior is an instantly likeable mix of red-stitched black and grey, mostly soft-touch trim, a glove box with a sliding top that doubles as an arm rest, plus huge swathes of piano black across the dashboard and doors. It’s great … almost.

The Corolla boot is deep enough to be practical, at 74cm (29in) deep and is wide too, at 100cm (39in) extending to 141cm (45in) if you use the deep pockets on both sides of it, which were useful for holding my golf shoes and trolley battery.

Fold down the rear seat backs and it becomes a totally flat, five feet deep luggage lugger.

So what was it that meant that, for me, the dream was over? I’d never buy my very own Toyota Corolla hybrid.

For me, it was simple and blindingly obvious. Toyota had forgotten that car drivers don’t just drive their car. They live in it for hours after hours.

I’ve already complained about the Mazda MX-5’s complete lack of door pockets or a glove box, but the Corolla has almost the same problem.

Toyota had carefully removed the car’s handbook from the Corolla glovebox to make it seem bigger, but, to be honest, it didn’t look up to much anyway.

No, the main problem was that the door pockets, so beautifully disguised under the great looking arches of piano black that doubled as door pulls, are almost useless.

I couldn’t even get my hands in them once the doors were shut.

Their small box-like spaces at the front are almost unusable, causing me to almost crash the car as I tried to worm out whatever was in the one on the driver’s side.

Instead, I looked to the rear for some usable space and, guess what, there weren’t any door pockets at all.

Call me an old fuddy duddy, call me what you like, but I won’t settle for a car that causes me problems.

It may be a Naughty Niggle in some people’s eyes, but for me it was the difference in being happy, or feeling hemmed in.

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IMAGE RATING

Toyota Corolla Excel 5dr 2.0 hybrid.

REAR MIRROR MONSTER: First look reveals it to be a massive jumble of lights, badges and chrome strips, yet somehow it works, all coming together to make a pretty package.

BACKSIDE BEAUTY: Split into two by a huge 22cm (9in) deep piano black and red strip which runs from side to side, it’s attractive, rather than racy, which it isn’t meant to be anyway. Lack of a visible exhaust, hidden behind the rear bumper, makes it out to look electric, which it only is sometimes.

PLAYTIME PLEASER: Touchscreen 7-inch sat nav with 2D or 3D image and speed limit warnings, twin zone climate control, adaptive cruise control with speed limiter, front and rear parking sensors with rear camera, trip computer, heated, folding door mirrors, auto-dimming lights, keyless entry and start, 18-inch machine cut alloys, heated front and outer rear seats, DAB stereo with Bluetooth and USB.

NAUGHTY NIGGLES: Dodging the pot holes may be impossible in the UK but you’ll have to try, because if you tear the side of a tyre you won’t be able to repair it with the blow and go kit in the boot. That’s all you’ll get, though, as there’s no room under the boot floor for even a space save spare wheel.

TASTY TOUCHES: Driver gets his own electric lumbar support function. You can switch off the infuriating and crackers lane departure warning and lane trace assist systems and they don’t automatically come back on again.

FAST OR LAST: Surprisingly quick for a hybrid when pushed, while top speed is unlikely to attract more than a fine.

WONGA WONDA: Definitely. It’s astonishingly quiet, remarkably fuel efficient and extremely good looking. Shame about those door pockets, though.

WOULD CHANTELLE LIKE IT? So good looking Chantelle couldn’t fail to feel super smooth and posh in one of these.

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