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50 years of Corolla: Toyota's best-selling sedan through the decades

2017-01-27 08:42

COROLLA THROUGH THE DECADES: The arrival of the facelifted 11th generation in SA marks more than 50 years since Toyota's Corolla was first launched. Check out Toyota's best-selling sedan through the ages. Image: QuickPic


In 2017, the Toyota Corolla will be celebrating 50 years of existence.

Cape Town - Now well into its eleventh generation, and more than 50 years since being introduced onto the market, the Corolla  has no doubt been a reliant soldier for Toyota.

Not only does it remain the world’s best-selling nameplate in automotive history, it’s still one of the most popular vehicles in the Toyota line-up. 

Glenn Crompton, Toyota South Africa Motors vice president of marketing, points out: “One of many reasons South Africans have always loved Corolla is because it has continually delivered on being an affordable, reliable, family car over the past 40 years."

The Corolla is currently sold in about 150 countries and regions around the world - including SA - and accounts for approximately 20% of Toyota’s global sales. 

Corolla in numbers

  • It’s been part of South Africans’ lives for more than 40 years. 

  • More than 1-million Corolla units have been produced and sold in SA, alone.

  • About 45-million have been sold globally. 

  • 100 cars being built and sold every hour throughout the past 50 years / one every 36 seconds.

READ: Facelifted 2017 Toyota Corolla marks fifty years at the top

Toyota remembers the 11 generations of its Corolla:

1st generation Corolla (1966)

Chief engineer Tatsuo Hasegawa and designers set out to capture the hearts of the general public with a car that was sporty in look and feel.

This revolutionary new car adopted new technologies not seen before on the Japanese market, such as MacPherson strut suspension and a four-speed transmission. 

Image: QuickPic

2nd generation Corolla (1970)

Corolla was a hit with young people. In the year that the one-millionth Corolla was built, the "all-new Corolla" featured revised exterior styling with gently curved surface lines, a longer wheelbase and improved suspension bettered ride comfort and handling.

It was noted for its lively character and seemingly unbreakable engine.

Image: QuickPic

3rd generation Corolla (1974)

Fuel efficiency and Toyota's pioneer development of the catalytic converter ensured Corolla gained popularity in the wake of the global fuel crisis. Another modern advance, the wind tunnel, enabled the exterior design to cut through the air more efficiently. Inside, interior quality and ergonomics improved with the Corolla feeling like a car from a higher price bracket.

Image: QuickPic

4th generation Corolla (1981)

The new-generation Corolla was re-imagined as a luxurious but economical family car with superior overall performance. With more than 400 hours of wind-tunnel development, its exterior design evolved seamlessly into a wedge shape. It was the last Corolla to have rear-wheel drive across the range. Global production reached 10 million vehicles in March 1983.

Image: QuickPic

5th generation Corolla (1983)

This new model was the first to be engineered with the aid of computers, saving time and resources in the design of the engine and exterior. Corolla was transformed into a modern front-wheel drive car and became the world's first mass-produced small car to feature twin-cam multi-valve technology. This is the model that won the 1986 SA Car of the Year award.

Image: QuickPic

6th generation Corolla (1987)

The key word in the development of the new Corolla was "quality", both in how the car felt and how it would make its owners feel. The spacious interior and seating comfort of the Corolla were mated to the sportiness of twin-cam. The sixth-generation Corolla won the 1989 SA Car of the Year award.

Image: QuickPic

7th generation Corolla (1991)

The seventh-generation Corolla was developed to appeal with its design, safety and reliability. The model was redesigned to be larger and have the completely rounded, aerodynamic shape of the 1990s. It also looked bolder compared to previous models.


Image: QuickPic

8th generation Corolla (1998)

The eighth-generation Corolla became the number one selling car in Japan by reducing the total cost of ownership and providing a safer, quieter and higher quality compact car. The success reverberated to other parts of the world and the popularity of the Corolla grew even larger.

Image: QuickPic

9th generation Corolla (2001)

The ninth-generation Corolla featured edgier styling, a longer wheelbase and new technology. Tasked with breaking links with the past and setting standards for the 21st century, it included intelligent variable valve timing across the range and side airbags for the front seats.

Image: QuickPic

10th generation Corolla (2006)

Adopting a global perspective, dynamic performance for the 10th generation was benchmarked with the best in Europe, while ease of use and space had to appeal to markets such as North America and SA. Through its development, the engineers worked to a five-minute impression rule, where customers would recognise the quality of this new model within five minutes of their first drive. It was the first vehicle in its class with dual variable valve timing.

Image: QuickPic

11th generation Corolla (2013)

Engine enhancements, aerodynamic improvements, weight savings and other measures contributed to dynamic and efficiency gains across the range. A major advance in 2016 came with the introduction of a hybrid powertrain for some markets, bringing improved fuel economy, nimble handling, strong value and keen pricing. Now celebrated as the world's best-selling car, the icon that is Corolla is set to live long into the future.

Image: QuickPic


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