Models Covered:

5-door Hatch / Estate / 4-door Saloon (1.8 Hybrid, 2.0 Hybrid - petrol)


In 2018, Toyota returned the Corolla name to the family hatchback segment with a more class-competitive hybrid-focused model line-up of hatches, saloons and estates. This rejuvenated twelfth generation ‘E210’-series model transformed the brand’s showing in this segment. But does it make sense as a used buy? Here, we look at the pre-facelift 2018-2022 version of this model.

The History

Why would you change the name of the world's best selling automotive model line? The reasons are difficult to understand, yet that's exactly what Toyota did back in 2007, switching the badging of its volume family hatchback model from 'Corolla' to 'Auris'. By 2018, though, the 'Corolla' name was back for what the brand described as this '12th generation' model.

The Corolla badging issue was clearly contentious within Toyota; this car was actually launched at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show as an ‘Auris’, then re-branded three months later before production models actually hit the showrooms. Perhaps the company realised that it would never have a better opportunity to return to its family hatchback’s much respected original model name than this, with an all-new platform and completely fresh engineering adopted here. The Corolla lineage is certainly impressive. It’s long been the world’s most successful automotive model nameplate, dating back to 1966, and by 2018, 46 million Corollas had been produced.

Away from naming semantics, there was much of interest here, not least the fact that the primary engines offered were petrol/electric hybrids. There were initially three body styles for this ‘E210’-series model, a saloon variant joining the core five-door hatch and the alternative 'Touring Sports' estate. All were built on the 'TNGA' 'Toyota New Global Architecture' platform and the hatch and estate were constructed at the brand's British factory in Burnaston, Derbyshire.

This MK12 Corolla, we were promised, would be a huge step forward from its Auris predecessor. Initially, a conventional 1.2-litre petrol turbo engine was offered to customers, but only for the first few months of sale. Thereafter, it was Hybrids only. A saloon body style (only with the 1.8-litre Hybrid engine) arrived early in 2019. An SUV-styled ‘Trek’ version of the Touring Sports estate was introduced later in 2019; then discontinued (along with the Saloon) when Toyota facelifted this MK12 ‘E210’-series Corolla range in early 2023.

What You Get

As an alternative to the core hatch body style, there are two further models, a ‘Touring Sports’ estate and a Saloon, both of which sit on version of the GA-C platform lengthened by 60mm. All were sleeker, sharper looking and altogether more appealing in this MK12 form than anything Toyota had previously offered in this segment.

At the wheel, there were also big improvements. The cabin’s ergonomically sound, thanks to a reduction in instrument panel height that enhanced your forward view and a wider centre console area that gave the cockpit more of a wrap-around feel. Plus you also get comfortable seats, good forward visibility and reasonable amounts cabin storage. Further helping with the overall feeling of greater sophistication is the view you get through the smart three-spoke leather-stitched wheel – that of a redesigned instrument binnacle that Toyota chose to present with a combination of digital and analogue design. Anything it can’t tell you will probably be covered off by the 8-inch ‘Toyota Touch 2’ centre-dash screen that deals with the usual DAB audio, Bluetooth, navigation and online connectivity options.

And the back seat? Well, inside, it’s fairly tight space-wise by class standards, both in terms of leg and headroom. But the lengthier Touring Sports estate or Saloon versions will suit you much better if that’s an issue.

What To Look For

There aren’t too many issues with this 12th generation Corolla. Toyota did have to issue a recall early on in MK12 production for issues with the CVT auto gearbox (there were fears that there was an issue that could lead to torque converter failure, which would result in a loss of power to the wheels). With the 1.8-litre model, a check light might sometimes appear on, illuminating on the dash. This is due to the car’s EVAP system; the only solution for this issue is to check the condition of the EVAP system. In the unlikely event that you’re looking at a Corolla that’s done over 50,000 miles, you can expect it to drink a little more oil. Otherwise, it’s just the usual things; check the interior for child damage; and the exterior for parking scrapes and alloy wheel scuffs. And of course insist on a fully stamped-out service history.

On The Road

The self-charging hybrid proposition with this Corolla was vastly improved over what had been provided by its forgettable Auris predecessor. With the 1.8-litre variant most chose, the response to throttle input is slightly more linear than with previous Toyota hybrid models, though the disconnect between the accelerator pedal and the CVT auto gearbox can still be frustrating. The brand had worked hard on this 122hp electrified unit, equipping hatch and estate Corollas that use it with a lithium-ion battery that was smaller, lighter and could deliver more power to assist the engine thanks to improved recuperation capabilities.

Significantly, Toyota decided that this time round, its family hatch contender must offer a choice of full-Hybrid options, slotting in a 2.0-litre 180hp electrified unit in at the top of the range. Here, the link between accelerator position, revs and actual performance is far better matched and you no longer have to spend so much time with the accelerator rammed against its bump stops when you’re running late for wherever it is you’ve got to be. From initial launch, there was a third Corolla engine option – a conventional 1.2-litre petrol turbo unit with 116hp - but it was quickly phased out. Whichever powerplant you prefer, you should find this Toyota far more dynamically able than its segment predecessors this time round.


We think this ‘E210’-series post-2018-era Corolla is probably the cleverest choice you could make in the sector from this period - a massive step forward from its uninspired Auris predecessor. If you're looking for a car in this class from this time, this one may not be on your shopping list. We think it ought to be.