The days of comparing horsepower and engine capacities are almost well and truly over. Meagre consumption and grams per kilometre are the catchphrases and Toyota is latest to introduce its environment saving technology in South Africa.
Called Optimal Drive, it is described as comprehensive technology for achieving optimum engine efficiency, fuel economy and reduced emissions, but not, Toyota counters, at the cost of performance. In addition, Toyota went to great pains to stress that this is not simply a matter of developing new technology for existing engines, but rather new products as standard list items.
Using Toyota's Kaizen philosophy of constant improvement, engineers have created an engine that displays better combustion, reduced internal friction and weighs less than its counterparts.
So the first model in South Africa to benefit from this new technology is the locally-produced Corolla, which gains a 1.3-litre Optimal Drive engine to replace the 1.4-lite.
But before you balk at the thought of sticking an engine with a smaller displacement in the already-pudgy Corolla, the 1.3 with dual VVTi makes 74 kW at 6 000 r/min and 132 Nm at 3 800 r/min versus the 1.4's 71 kW and 130 Nm. Furthermore, the new engine is claimed to return 5.9 l/100 km on a combined cycle (the 1.4, 6.7 l/100 km) and 138 g/km (as opposed to 158 g/km from the 1.4).
On the road, while you certainly won't be breaking any land speed records, the 1.3 Corolla is capable and once it overcomes inertia is a pleasant cruiser.
Its new generation engine is a compact four-cylinder that is about the same size as the three-cylinder powering the 1.0 Yaris T1 and 13 kg lighter than the outgoing 1.4-litre.
Along with a redesigned block, combustion chambers are tweaked for more efficient combustion. This engine has a bore of 72.5 mm, a stroke of 80.5 mm and a high compression ratio of 11.5:1. Lightweight pistons and the addition of roller rocker arms are just two of the measures employed in reducing friction.
The new six-speed manual gearbox to which this engine is mated was subjected to a similar weight-loss programme; it is smaller by 11% and uses 15% fewer components than before.
This new transmission becomes a feature across the Corolla range, which also sees the addition of a new four-speed automatic for certain 1.6- and 1.8-litre derivatives. The new auto comes with uphill/downhill control to prevent annoying hunting and engine braking is enabled on steep descents.
There are no specification changes to the Corolla range.
Optimal Drive technology will be rolled out to other models in the Toyota range, including a new turbodiesel engine for RAV4 with Verso and Auris upgrades following later this year.
1.3 Professional 6-sp man - R177 200
1.3 Advanced 6-sp man - R195 000
1.6 Professional 6-sp man - R193 400
1.6 Advanced 6-sp man - R208 500
1.6 Advanced 4-sp auto - R218 400
1.8 Advanced 6-sp man - R215 400
1.8 Exclusive 6-sp man - R241 800
1.8 Exclusive 4-sp auto - R251 500
2.0 D-4D Advanced 6-sp man - R237 600
2.0 D-4D Exclusive 4-sp auto - R264 000