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Toyota Corolla D-4D 1.4 - Diesel Road Tests

Toyota Corolla D-4D 1.4

Toyota's ubiquitous Corolla is never going to win any beauty contests but it does exactly what is required of a top-selling family car.

The latest version is a free-revving, hard-working 1.4 diesel model, which has been borrowed from the sister Yaris supermini and also powers MINI One D.

However, Toyota engineers have revised the D-4D unit for the latest Corolla, pushing power up to 89bhp and increasing the all-important torque by 12 per cent.

Unadventurous styling and handling dynamics, combined with decent equipment levels and Toyota's reputation for reliability have so far made the Corolla appealing to those mostly interested in reliability. So can the new 1.4 D-4D help?

Toyota's charm offensive to woo the less aged sees a choice of four body styles, three and five-door hatchback, saloon and estate. The body shell remains essentially the same too, but the hatchbacks have acquired a new bonnet, grille, bumpers and lights, while the saloon and estate get a new front section and lights.

As before, there are four trim levels to choose from - T2, T3, T Spirit and T Sport. Standard equipment includes front, side and curtain airbags, ABS brakes, air conditioning and dark screen instruments, illuminated permanently when the engine is switched on. Our car was a ¯¿½13,895 T3 five-door.

The 1.4 engine replaces the 89bhp 2.0-litre D-4D engine, while the 114bhp 2.0 D-4D version still tops the diesel range, as before. That puts the 1.4 up against the Renault Megane 1.5 dCi and the new Ford Focus 1.6 TDCi.

Ford may have been the mass production pioneer, but Toyota hasn't reached the top three global motor manufacturers without paying careful attention to cost control. Small details like timer switches for the rear window heater are missing. It's either on or off in the Toyota and easily forgotten too.

The Corolla's driving position benefits from the reach and rake adjustable steering wheel and there's plenty of fore and aft travel for the driving seat to accommodate short and tall.

With the right seat height it's quite comfortable, but get it wrong and it grips in all the wrong places. A flatter seatback would offer less side support, but would be better adapted to all shapes and sizes.

The new engine is Euro-IV compliant, like the 2.0D-4D engine, which is good news for business users. While 128g/km carbon dioxide emissions are eight g/km too high to qualify for low emissions status, the Corolla still qualifies for low VED car tax rates, while its combined fuel consumption figure of 57.6mpg is excellent.

There's also a variable geometry turbocharger, which not only provides boost lower down the rev range but helps to lower emissions too.

The outcome of all this is a real gem of a motor. It's quiet enough to pass as a petrol engine most of the time, revs sweetly and pulls cleanly from low in the rev range. It might be small, but the horsepower is all full size.

The Corolla has come a long way in recent years but the crowning glory of this car is undoubtedly the latest incarnation of the 1.4 D-4D engine, which now rates as one of the more impressive Japanese diesels.

Considering that diesels are not high on the Japanese domestic agenda, the attention now being paid to them at home signals that they can no longer sit on the fence if they are to be taken seriously in Europe. Lets hope that it won't be long before Toyota releases the more powerful engine in other models.

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