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29 Jan 2020

What We Dislike
Not very quick
Unintuitive locking system can be frustrating
Many alternative options in the market

Built on the TNGA platform, the new Toyota Corolla Altis delivers better ride comfort and improved safety, while retaining its hallmark practicality and ease of use.

The Toyota Corolla Altis is about as ubiquitous a car in Singapore as they come. Everyone knows someone who owns one. It's not surprising, of course, since the Corolla is the best selling car in the world, having moved more than 44 million units since its introduction in 1966.

This here is the new 12th generation model, and one thing is for sure - it's going to be a best-seller once more. But, is it actually any good? 

Shedding new light

The new Altis sports a sharp and sporty new front fascia
The Altis now sports a more contemporary styling, with sharper lines, more angular details and a greater overall sleekness. It's not a beautiful car by any means, but it's a tad less bland-looking than before. In this Elegance trim, you also get LED head and taillights.

The quality of the interior is slightly improved, though it struggles to match up to competitor models like the new Mazda3. Some Korean models also offer better equipment levels, such as an auto-hold function and ventilated seats. The locally fitted infotainment system only has audio capabilities, which means that changing various system settings require you to dive into menus on the 7.0-inch multimedia display in the dashboard.

The 7.0-inch multimedia display in the dashboard can be used to display a variety of information
Thankfully, the practicality and straightforward nature of the Altis has changed - there's a Nanoe Auto-climate air-con and rear air-con vents, good amounts of space for rear passengers, and a 470-litre boot. The overall levels of comfort and quality are reasonable, if unspectacular.

We did have one notable gripe about the car's locking system, though. You have to manually unlock the car (by pressing the unlock button) to allow your passengers to enter or exit the car. This is even the case when the car is put into park, and even after you have turned off the engine. This came to be rather annoying, especially considering a 12-year old FD Civic already automatically unlocks all doors when you put it into 'P'. 

Beneath the skin

The Dynamic Cruise Control function is very useful for highway driving
Where the Altis has made notable improvements is under the skin. Built on the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) platform, the car is notably more comfortable and solid to drive. The newly developed front and rear suspension do a good job of soaking up bumps in the road, while also endowing the Altis with cornering agility you won't find in the previous generation model.

There's also more weight to the steering, and the car demonstrates much better body control in corners. It feels more hefty and attached to the tarmac, and sheds the vague lightness of its predecessor.

The TNGA application also means that the Altis is equipped with a range of safety and assistance systems. Dynamic Cruise Control and Lane Departure Warning with Steering Assistant are certainly useful. And, with seven SRS airbags, vehicle stability control and a blind-spot monitoring system, the Altis also ticks all the right boxes as far as occupant safety is concerned.

The 1.6-litre powerplant is reasonably efficient - we managed 13.3km/L over five days of driving
Powering the Altis is a 1.6-litre naturally aspirated powerplant producing a modest 129bhp and 159Nm of torque, effectively unchanged from its predecessor. It's not a particularly peppy or quick car - 0-100km/h takes a leisurely 12.9 seconds. There is some improvement in drivetrain refinement, but overall it's still a functional if unremarkable package.

Driven in an unhurried manner, the new Altis delivers solid fuel economy - over the entire Lunar New Year period, we managed to clock 13.3km/L having covered 457km in five and a half days.

One point of note - there's definitely a centimetre or two of dead travel at the top of the brake pedal’s travel, so you need to be a little more robust with your brake application. 

A solid choice

The new Corolla Altis brings added refinement to a familiar and successful formula
Overall, the car is certainly an improved package, with its sharpened styling, more refined drive, and new technology. Is it still the no-brainer choice for an affordable compact family sedan? That's a little bit more complicated.

For its asking price of $102,888, there are several alternative options that you could seriously consider. The Kia Cerato, Honda Civic and Hyundai Avante are all cheaper. The Mazda3 is more expensive, but you're paying for additional equipment, quality and polish. And for the same money, you can even consider a Skoda Octavia.

The new Corolla Altis doesn't make monumental leaps forward from its predecessor. Yes, the new safety systems and improved ride comfort are notable, but most buyers of the Altis are looking for the long-term reliability, familiarity and ease of use that Toyota is renowned for. This new Altis won't disappoint.

If it is no-frills motoring you're looking for in your next family sedan, why not also read up on these alternatives?

There's also the sleek looking Mazda3 Sedan, with its premium interior and high ride comfort

Or there's also the Honda Civic to consider, with a strong 1.5-litre turbocharged engine and premium touches in the cabin

There's also the new Kia Cerato, that sports an appealing exterior and a useful set of features
Also read our comparison article on:
Hyundai Avante vs Mazda 3 Sedan vs Toyota Corolla Altis
Car Information


: $152,888

Engine Type


4-cylinder in-line 16-valve Dual VVT-i

Engine Cap





96kW (129 bhp) / 6400 rpm



159 Nm / 4200 rpm




Acceleration (0-100 km/h)



Top Speed



Fuel consumption



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