Toyota Corolla D4D
1,4 l / Four-cylinder
12,5 s (claimed)
Average 4,5 l /100 km
One of Toyota’s biggest passenger vehicles, the Corolla, recently had a shape change. The new shape is what every Toyota fan was eagerly anticipating. The original pictures of the new Corolla showed a muscular and sporty vehicle. In fact, most would not believe that this was actually the Corolla, which is (in)-famous for its practicality. Needless to say, this shape never did make it to the final product; instead, the new shape was stretched out and given the Toyota front end that was first seen on the new Auris, with a few changes.
The new Corolla is immediately distinguishable from the previous generation, not only from its fresh look but also its sheer size. The new headlights have a sweeping design that flows from the grill and the swooping bonnet. The newly designed tail lights add sophistication to the rear end.
Inside, the test vehicle had sporty leather front seats and a leather-covered steering wheel. The new dashboard has a squared look upfront with a rather large top section due to the sloped windscreen. This makes the car look roomier and more spacious. The dashboard incorporates a new touchscreen infotainment system that has radio, CD, Aux and Bluetooth functionality. It also has a computer that keeps track of fuel consumption and fuel range. This is also the screen for the rear camera that automatically activates once reverse is selected. The rear seats are comfortable and, thanks to the flat floor, there is ample leg room for all three passengers. No more complaints of squashed feet.
The luggage compartment is more like a cargo haul than a car boot. In simple terms it is huge – technically speaking it will take up to 470 litres of goods or luggage.
On the road, the new diesel engine is fairly quiet once it has warmed up and if you have the radio on, the engine cannot be heard. The 1,4-litre diesel model has ample oomph and the car is light and easy to drive. The one thing that truly surprised me on this vehicle was the fuel consumption as when I drove the vehicle short distances with lots of stops and rather quick accelerations, the worst I got to was 7,4 litres per 100 kilometres. On the long road I achieved around 5 litres per 100 kilometres, which I think is truly impressive for a vehicle of this size. The soft suspension swallowed up irregular road surfaces with ease, but the car did get a bit twitchy at higher speeds on these roads.
There is a lack of steering feedback, especially when cornering, and this makes for some boring driving. The one thing that truly bugged me with this car was the central locking, though. You need to unlock the car physically as pulling on the inside door handle will not open the door. As the door locks are slide leavers on the door handles you don’t always notice them. The central locking control on the driver’s side does open all the doors, but the only problem is that if you don’t know where it is you cannot find it in the dark as it is not illuminated.
All things considered, the new Corolla did impress me. It has definitely grown up and does have some good-quality materials. That, together with Toyota’s bulletproof reputation, makes this yet another winner from Toyota. ❐
3,0 l / Six-cylinder
Average 5,9 l /100 km
The now iconic BMW X5 has had its latest tweaking giving it a fresh new look. The new version had the new BMW grill and headlight treatment. which gives the vehicle an elegant yet brut presence. The test vehicle had the optional sports package, which adds to the overall appearance of the vehicle. The 20-inch wheels filled the arches and the sport mag wheels look the SUV part. The sculptured bonnet shows how much meticulous attention has been given to the new look, even though many would not appreciated it.
The rear end has been given updated rear lights and rear bumpers. The overall profile of the vehicle has not changed, but the sculptured creases along the sides are perfectly positioned to make the vehicle look smaller than it actually is. The air vent in the rear section of the front-wheel arch which was first seen on the BMW 3GT and then the 4 series has become common on the premier BMW vehicles. The overall changes to the body have definitely taken the BMW X5 to a new level of sophistication.
Inside, the cream leather seats and carpets made the test vehicle seem airy and spacious. The new dashboard keeps the original split top section but the new rather large LCD display takes centre stage. Thanks to the iDrive system there are not too many buttons that clutter the centre console, giving the dashboard a minimalistic and almost clinical look. The inlays are all over the doors and dashboard, dropping down to the centre console and gear shift area. You can choose the type of inlay you prefer, namely wood or metal finishes. Just above the inlays is a small groove that houses the LED lighting. These lights can change colour depending on your mood, and this includes the lights in the foot well. You can even have different colours on top and at the bottom. This is unusual for a car, but mood lighting is definitely a step into the future of modern vehicle technology.
The driving position is good and you feel secure and almost dominant on the roads thanks to the rather high ride height. The seats have a new finish that has stitching and curves all over the seat. The feature that really catches the eye is the spine-like stitching down the centre of the seat. This same look is carried through to the rear seats. The X5’s front seats are electronically adjustable and with the comfort seat option it can be almost moulded to suit your body, giving you comfort and support exactly where you need it.
The test vehicle was fitted with the latest 3-litre turbo-charged diesel engine. Even though it is a 3-litre vehicle, BMW have badged it the 40d. This new motor is fairly subdued once warmed up and on the road there is almost no sign that this is actually a diesel. The only sign is the sheer torque that the vehicle delivers.
On the road the vehicle is truly impressive with excellent comfort to the level that uneven and bumpy roads feel more like smooth tarmac. There is also little body roll on the bends and BMW have managed to lower the centre of gravity to a point that you don’t feel like you are driving an SUV during high-speed manoeuvres. Off road the vehicle is not bad, but keep in mind that this is a soft roader. There is no low range and the tyres fitted are road tyres, hence this is more of an urban roader than an off roader.
Overall I think BMW have done a phenomenal job in once again raising the bar for luxury SUVs. The one challenge is the new price tag, pushing it to a level that most cannot afford. That being said: if you have the money, the X5 should definitely be on your list if you are shopping for an SUV. ❐
Author: Torque Talk is a member of SAGMJ