Toyota launches upgraded Corolla Altis, hikes prices marginally

Toyota has launched the new Corolla Altis, with an all-new petrol engine and a minor facelift. The Altis will be available in seven variants – four petrol and three diesel. The new prices range from Rs. 12.39 lakh for the base petrol variant to Rs. 14.55 lakh for the top end diesel variant. The price for the lower end variants has gone up by about Rs 15,000 and that of higher end variants by around Rs 30,000.

The biggest change to the car is under the hood of the petrol car. The Altis now has a new 1798cc, 16-valve, DOHC, variable valve-timing engine that puts out 138 bhp of power at 6,400 rpm and 173 Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm.  The older Altis engine put out 131 bhp of power and 170 Nm of torque. This engine is now mated to a choice of either a six-speed manual transmission or a CVT automatic with seven-speed preset sequential shift. The diesel variants are still powered by the same old D-4D, 1.4-litre diesel engine.

Other than that, changes are subtle and are unlikely to have an significant impact on competition.

The new Corolla retains its core proposition: it will appeal to buyers who will be chauffeur driven and will focus on rear seat comfort rather than driving pleasure and performance. It will compete against cars like the Chevrolet Cruze, Honda Civic and Skoda Laura. Toyota expects to sell 11,500 cars this year out of which they expect 50 percent to be diesel.

toyota altis photo
Photo: The facelift changes to the Toyota Corolla Altis are very subtle

Variant Table with Prices

[table id=49 /]

Look, space and comfort

Up front there are minor changes to the bumper and the fog lamp design. The headlamps too are now slimmer and sleeker, while there’s a new grille design that sets the petrol Altis and the diesel Altis apart. The bumper also now houses a quadrangular air dam that gives the car a more purposeful stance. However, if you aren’t a keen observer of cars, the changes are so subtle, you could miss it.

In profile, there’s nothing that’s changed with the Altis, and it still retains its familiar hulking shape. At the rear, Toyota has tried to freshen up the boot with more rectangular tail-lamp elements, and new reflectors in the bumper. There’s also a larger chrome strip running the width of the boot lid to give it a little more of a premium image.

In terms of comfort it does have an edge over the Cruze and Civic which are its key competitors. It has a more composed and compliant ride thanks to its suspension setup which is tuned for comfort rather than performance. The seating position also is a bit better as both Civic and Cruze are set very low.

toyota altis headlight photo
Photo: The headlamps are slimmer, the fog lamps get a new housing, while the bumper and grille have been modified

Performance, mileage

With the new petrol engine, the Altis gets a little more grunt. It’s slightly better than the Honda Civic which makes 132 bhp from its 1.8 litre petrol engine. The Civic, however, is as good on fuel consumption, with a claimed mileage of 15.5 kmpl. The petrol Altis is no match for the Skoda Laura though. Toyota claims the petrol Altis gives a mileage of 15 kmpl.

The diesel Altis runs a D-4D, 1.4-litre diesel engine that makes a weedy 87 bhp of power and 205 Nm of torque. The Altis diesel is only mated to a six-speed manual transmission that gives about 21 kmpl. In terms of sheer diesel power, however, the class leader is the Chevrolet Cruze, which has a 2-litre diesel engine that makes 149 bhp of power and a whopping 327 Nm of torque, making it far more fun to drive than the stately Altis.

toyota altis tail light photo

But in these days of ever-rising fuel prices, Corolla’s fuel sipping diesel should continue to find lots of buyers. Toyota has done an excellent job.

Price and Features

toyota altis engine photo
Photo: The 1798 cc DOHC 2ZR VVT-i petrol engine in the Altis makes 138 bhp of power and 173 Nm of torque

The petrol variants are priced between Rs 10.53 lakh and Rs. 14.77 lakh. This makes the Altis quite competitive, compared to the Honda Civic

petrol which starts at Rs. 13.21 lakh and the Laura petrol whose prices start at Rs. 13.48 lakh. The introduction of the J variant has in fact brought the Altis down to the price band of upper mid-size sedans like the Volkswagen Vento and Hyundai Verna.

The diesel variants are priced between Rs. 11.47 lakh to Rs. 14.55 lakh. This is again very competitive compared to the Chevrolet Cruze, which starts at Rs. 11.73 lakh and Skoda Laura, which starts at Rs. 13.94 lakh. However, if you look at engine specifications, the Cruze and the Laura are far more powerful cars, while the diesel Altis is aimed at chauffeur-driven customers.

On the insides, Toyota has changed the instrument panel layout slightly, giving the car back-lit optitron meters. It also gets a 6.1-inch touch-screen DVD player with Bluetooth, USB and Aux-in on the top-end (GL, VL) variants of the Altis in both petrol and diesel.

The rear-seat armrest now houses a wood-finish covered cup holder while, the interiors retain their beige color with a grey dashboard top. The top-end variants of the petrol Altis also get a push-button start/stop system and 8-way power driver’s seat. The automatic transmission has an Eco-drive indicator to aid in fuel-efficiency. However, most of these features are also available in the Cruze and Civic so in terms of features the Corolla doesn’t really stand out.

Conclusion

The Altis has been losing market share slightly, though it still remains the segment leader if you look at the past six months sales. Altis holds 27% market share in the premium mid-size sedan segment, followed closely by the Chevrolet Cruze at 25% and the Skoda Laura at 13%.

toyota altis interior photo 1
Photo: The diesel GL variant also gets a touchscreen-DVD Bluetooth music system

The upgrades to the petrol Altis make it more contemporary, especially with the onslaught of new competition in the form of the Renault Fluence, and cars lower down the price ladder such as the new Hyundai Verna and the Ford Fiesta stocking up on the features list.

toyota altis interior photo 2
Photo: The VL petrol variant gets a 7-speed sequential shiftmatic CVT transmission

And there’s also the threat from the Chevrolet Cruze, which has steadily been eating away at market share from the Altis. In April and May the Cruze sold more numbers than the Altis. This has forced Toyota to give the Altis a fresh lease of life, and a few more horses under the hood. Yet, the changes are so subtle in the Altis, they are not very noticeable to the average person.

Features at a glance:

[table id=47 /]

[table id=48 /]