2017 Toyota Corolla Altis Diesel Review


The Toyota Corolla is the largest selling car in the world with over 40 million units sold across the years and generations. In India, the Corolla was launched in 2003 and continues to be the best selling car in its category. The current generation Corolla Altis has been with us for a few years now and has finally been put under the scalpel for a midlife nip and tuck making, it much much better looking than before and also much sleeker. We drove the top of the line diesel powered car, which, badged GL is priced at just over Rs 19 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) to see if the updates have made it a better car.

toyota corolla altis facelift headlamp
Toyota Corolla Altis Facelift Headlamp

To begin with, the Corolla now looks much sharper with its smaller and longer headlamps that flank the chrome laden central grille. The headlamps are now powered by LEDs and also get a sleek and quite bright daytime running light that accentuates the headlamp cluster. The lower half of the bumper is quite interesting with an almost wing-like design along with two large vents that makes the Corolla visually appear to be a lot wider than it actually is.
toyota corolla altis facelift rear profile
Toyota Corolla Altis Facelift Rear Profile

The same sleek design continues around the side with a much sharper profile now thanks to the headlamps giving it an edgier look. The rear too gets the sleeker and sharper LED tail lamps and those make the new Corolla Altis look a lot less bulky as compared to the outgoing car. The differences between the petrol and the diesel variants seem to continue. While the GL is the highest spec model you can get in the diesel, it still only gets a set of 15-inch wheels, which ends up making the rather large Corolla looks like it is sitting on a set of coasters.
toyota corolla altis facelift interior
Toyota Corolla Altis Facelift Interior

The interior on the Corolla is typically Toyota – which means it is ergonomic and well built. The beige and grey dashboard with the gloss black central console combined with the beige seats gives it an airy feel, which is ideal for a car of this segment. Shockingly though, this top of the line diesel version does NOT come with an infotainment system. And that, in our opinion is genuinely ridiculous, especially since it comes factory fitted with steering mounted audio and phone controls and a set of speakers.

toyota corolla altis facelift
Toyota Corolla Altis Facelift

And this also means that the Corolla in the spec we are driving does not come with parking sensors and a reversing camera, which again, are features that a car in this segment is expected to have. To be fair though, the petrol-powered car does get all the above missing features that the diesel is missing along with a leather interior package as compared to the fabric one on the diesel.
toyota corolla altis facelift rear seats
Toyota Corolla Altis Facelift Rear Seats

The Corolla though has always had a very comfortable rear seat and this version of the car is pretty much the same. The rear bench is comfortable and offers great under-thigh and back support. You also get a flip down central arm rest in the rear with a brushed silver finished cubbyhole and two cup holders. The best part about the seat though is the slightly higher seating position which means that it is easy to get in and out of – particularly important as a large portion of Toyota Corolla customers are slightly older individuals and are chauffer driven.
toyota corolla altis facelift diesel
Toyota Corolla Altis Facelift Diesel

The Corolla Altis diesel comes with a 1.4-litre, four-cylinder, turbocharged engine that makes a measly 87 bhp of peak power and 205 Nm of peak torque which translates to very underwhelming outright performance on the road. You have to keep working the 6-speed gearbox to extract the best performance from the engine as there is just no power whatsoever below 1500-1800 rpm. That said, there is a silver lining. The Toyota Corolla Altis is a great highway cruiser. Leave it in the sixth gear at about 2000 rpm, which translates to about 90-100 kmph and it is quiet and extremely frugal in terms of fuel efficiency. But, exciting, it is not.
toyota corolla altis facelift alloy wheels
Toyota Corolla Altis Facelift Alloy Wheels

The steering feel, is a little numb and needs the driver to really hold the car by the collar and force it to perform. And it is pretty much the same story when it comes to handling. While it is nowhere near as good in the corners as its rivals from Europe or even Korea, the Corolla is extremely comfortable – especially with these 15-inch wheels and larger sidewall tyre combination. In fact, in this spec it is definitely the most comfortable car in its segment.
toyota corolla altis facelift badges
Toyota Corolla Altis Facelift Badges

The Toyota Corolla might be one of the most popular cars in its segment but with competition like the Hyundai Elantra, which is priced just slightly above the Corolla and gets a LOT more features, it does have its work cut out for it. It has though evolved along nicely and is definitely a lot more stylish car now. That said, we still think that Toyota’s gamble in not giving enough value to the Corolla in this diesel spec might be a bad move.