2021 Toyota Corolla Ascent Sport hatch (car review)

THE Toyota Corolla has been a household name in Australia for more than 50 years. Best known for its hardy build quality and basically bulletproof driveline, the 2021 Toyota Corolla Ascent Sport carries forward this tradition.

It’s a well rounded package with everything you need and nothing you don’t. So, if you’re looking for cutting edge tech and more computer systems than you can poke a stick at, you’re probably looking in the wrong place.

But if you’re after a simple, rock solid car that will probably survive the nuclear blast, you may be pleasantly surprised. Aesthetically the Corolla has come leaps and bounds over the last few years.

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The sedate, vanilla car we all remember growing up with has been left in the past to make way for the aggressive, sleek and modern current design.

From the sharp lines, wide body and 16-inch alloy wheels, through to the LED headlights and taillights, the Corolla really is a beautiful car, reminiscent of a modern world rally car, and the sporty look really sets it apart in a sea of hatchbacks.

The Corolla’s interior is a pleasant place to be too. The sharp lines continue inside the car with its modern yet sleek dash. The simple layout is both well thought out and spacious.

Everything is where you expect and buttons for features you never use aren’t welcome here. The interior is predominantly made up of high quality hard and soft touch plastics but it presents itself well.

There is ample storage room with deep door pockets, a large glove box, centre console and plenty of cupholders. The boot however was smaller than expected due to the inclusion of a full sized spare tyre.

The ability to fold the rear seats flat though means there shouldn’t be too many scenarios the Corolla can’t handle. The steering wheel is made of a quality soft touch plastic and houses the majority of functions needed to control the media and driver aid functions.

The steering wheel controls are intuitively placed and easily accessible. An abundance of physical buttons provides a refreshingly familiar experience too. The lack of touch based controls and menus within menus in display settings, is oddly comforting.

The 7.0-inch infotainment screen can predominantly be controlled by buttons surrounding the screen but also includes touch functionality. The 2021 Toyota Corolla introduces Android Auto/Apple CarPlay functionality as well.

There’s also satellite navigation and a 6-speaker sound system. Unfortunately the screens matte finish and positioning makes it prone to glare from the sun. You won’t find a crazy plasma screen as a dash on the Ascent Sport either.

Instead it uses a traditional analogue dash with a 4.2-inch multi information display which can show economy readings, turn by turn GPS instructions, trip details, call/music functions and offers control of the driver safety features.

Driving the Corolla was a strange experience. The nippy 2.0-litre 4-cylinder VVT-i engine produced a respectable 125kW and 200Nm of torque and was no slouch, however it was unfortunately let down by the often confused CVT gearbox.

While driving around town was a fairly regular experience, once coasting at freeway speeds, the gearbox would often find itself hunting through gears for no apparent reason. This was further exacerbated on steep up hills.

We found it often shifting down, revving the car, before shifting up and repeating itself. The Corolla did well at controlling road noise for the most part too, however the engine was particularly audible at higher revs.

During our review we also struggled to meet the claimed 6.0-litres/100km economy rating, with our actual result up around 7.4-litres/100km, with predominantly freeway driving.

When it comes to safety, the Corolla has you covered with a 5-star ANCAP rating. 7 airbags, and a plethora of assists including ABS, traction/stability control, lane trace, lane departure with steering assist, pre collision safety, and road sign assist.

All speed active cruise control, auto high beams and a reverse camera are also included. It would have been great to see the inclusion of front/rear parking sensors and blind spot monitors as well.

It is hard to deny the value for money proposition the Corolla puts forward though. It does exactly what it says on the box. Like any car, it has its quirks, but for anyone looking for a well built, reliable all rounder that isn’t over featured or overly complex, this is it.

The 2021 Toyota Corolla Ascent Sport is available from $27,278 (manual) or $28,823 (auto) drive away. Capped price servicing is available for 5-years/75,000km. It comes with a 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty too.

As an added incentive, if the car is serviced as per its log book requirements, Toyota will extend said warranty by up to two years. It’s available in Glacier White, Frosted White, Silver Pearl, Feverish Red, Graphite, Eclectic Blue, Peacock Black and Eclipse Black.

Our test vehicle was supplied by Toyota Australia. To find out more about the 2021 Toyota Corolla Ascent Sport, contact your local Toyota dealer.


Driving experience
Exterior styling
Interior look and feel
Technology and connectivity
Family friendliness
Value for money


Pros - value for money; modern styling; Android Auto/Apple CarPlay integration.
Cons - CVT transmission; small boot due to full sized spare; very plastic interior.


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<strong>Pros -</strong> value for money; modern styling; Android Auto/Apple CarPlay integration.<br> <strong>Cons -</strong> CVT transmission; small boot due to full sized spare; very plastic interior.2021 Toyota Corolla Ascent Sport hatch (car review)