First Drive: 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback is Plenty of Fun

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The 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback started its life as an entirely different brand. It was originally the Scion iM until Toyota decided to discontinue Scion. It then rolled the iM into the Corolla lineup as the Corolla iM, but this year they’ve ditched the last of the Scion branding with the introduction of the all-new 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback.

Power for the Corolla Hatchback comes from a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine with 168 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque with a choice of either a 6-speed manual or continuously variable automatic transmission. Its hot hatch demeanor demands you drive the manual if you know how, but the CVT is there just in case.

It’s far more fun with the manual transmission and brings the Corolla Hatchback closer to true hot hatch territory, but the CVT is a good one. It’s loud under hard acceleration, but the typically annoying CVT whine is minimal and as soon as you get up to speed, things quiet down.

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Handling is sporty, but not stiff. A true hot hatch is a heck of a lot of fun to drive, but it can also be a lot of work. Tight, responsive steering requires constant input, which is tiring over longer drivers. The Corolla Hatchback strikes a happy medium so it’s fun without being exhausting.

The same goes for its suspension. Rather than being so stiff the least little crack in the road translates as a jolt to your spine, the Corolla Hatchback is stiff enough to let you take a tight corner with some speed, but won’t have you seeing a chiropractor at the end of the day.

It’s a best of both worlds choice, which gives it wider appeal. Those looking for a true hot hatch will think it hasn’t gone far enough, but there are plenty of other choices for those people. The Corolla Hatchback is for the person who wants a touch of hot hatch fun in a car that still works as a comfortable daily driver.

When it comes to looks, however, the Corolla Hatchback is 100 percent focused on being a sporty little thing. It is lower, wider, and shorter than the outgoing Corolla iM and it has an aggressive front end. The best part is in back with plenty of angles finished off with a sexy little spoiler. This car looks fantastic.

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The interior is more comfortable than before with improved seating and a choice of fabric or fabric and leather seating surfaces. There’s room for five, but the back is tight for all but two passengers. The trunk holds 18.0 cubic feet of cargo with 60/40 split-folding rear seats for loading larger items.

The Corolla Hatchback is available in SE and XSE trims. Both have a standard 8-inch touchscreen adorning the dashboard and there’s finally Apple CarPlay, which made its Toyota debut in the 2019 Avalon. No Android Auto yet, but baby steps, right?

The Corolla Hatchback features new Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 standard across the lineup. This suite of safety features includes pre-collision with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, automatic high beams, dynamic radar cruise control (manual transmission), full-speed range dynamic radar cruise control (CVT), road sign assist, lane tracing assist (CVT), daytime cyclist detection, and daytime and low-light pedestrian detection.

The all-new 2019 Corolla Hatchback is a fully-featured vehicle with the latest safety technology, improved infotainment, and a sporty ride. It’s a welcome addition to the Corolla lineup. Pricing will be announced closer to the on-sale date late this summer.