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2002-08-07 14:22

YOU publisher John Relihan

NB: Large image - please be patient.

Click here for new Corolla photo gallery

This is a storm warning for European car manufacturers as well.

A typhoon is approaching from the East that will have a diverse affect on vehicles sales in the compact and medium segments of the market from September onwards. Expect a marked decrease in activities in showrooms nationwide as a result.

With the introduction recently of the ninth generation of the Corolla in Japan to South African motoring scribes and, particularly after a session on the famous Fuji Speedway in all the variants, there is little doubt that the new range is taking the European manufacturers head-on.

The new Corolla not only has the best the European manufacturers can offer in the compact and medium segments of the market in its sights, but also younger buyers.

Participation in the horrendously expensive Formula One motor racing is part of the strategy to address and attract younger buyers to the brand. And in typical Toyota fashion, expect to regularly see them on the podium in two to three years time.

It's all part of the manufacturer's vision of achieving a global market share of 15 per cent by 2010.

To achieve it's goal, it needs to make major inroads in Europe and attract younger buyers. Younger buyers want attractive styling, lots of features and performance.

First impressions of the three engine variants (1.4, 1.6 and 1.8 litre) with intelligent variable valve timing on the Fuji Speedway is that the performance and handling is certainly there. Build quality, interior space and safety features are exceptional.

The new Corolla is in a class of it's own and can certainly not be compared to previous generations. The perception is that one is driving a much more expensive luxury vehicle.

Better lighting, sport seats, a 60 litre fuel tank and protective strips under the body are some of the changes made to the South African models.

The Corolla is available as a sedan, hatch, MPV and estate elsewhere in the world. Expect to see the sedan in South Africa from the beginning of September.

With Toyota Japan now owning 75 per cent of Toyota South Africa Motors (TSAM), the benefits of being part of a global organisation will soon show. Locally manufactured Corollas will be exported to Australia from 2003 in substantial numbers.

The new challenge from the East will no doubt affect the local market. With more than 700 000 of previous generations sold locally and more than 30 million in more than 140 countries since 1966, recognition of the brand by existing and prospective buyers means that Toyota has a substantial advantage.

  • Wheels24 editor John Oxley will attend the South African launh in the first week of September and will give his first driving impressions then as well. Watch this space!
  • Click here for new Corolla photo gallery


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