Any smidge of hope that the Corolla S could show just enough performance potential has been slashed by reality that nope– Toyota still sucks. That’s funny, though, since the Yaris has proven itself so well in SE guise.
As tested recently at Motor Trend magazine, the Corolla S was indeed quicker than a Nissan Sentra as I expected… just. Motor Trend tested the CVT version of the Corolla S, which would be the larger seller, so it makes sense for them to test that over the manual version. The gap between the Corolla S and the Nissan Sentra isn’t nearly as wide as I had expected, however, since the Corolla has kept the same amount of power (132hp) as the 2013 model, and gained little weight if any. The Sentra, on the other hand, has lost power (130hp, down from the 2012’s 140hp).
The largest disappointment comes when considering the Yaris SE, the Corolla S’ subcompact little brother, has consistently placed in the top half of subcompact comparisons (Car & Driver and Motor Trend have both placed it third of six cars). The Corolla won’t see such high ranks in up-coming comparisons no matter what happens. Where the Yaris came out surprising journalists with how fun it could be, the Corolla has fallen on its face even more than expected.
Motor Trend’s podium finish of the Yaris SE was more for economy– not the pinnacle of fun I’m trying to turd-polish. Car & Driver, on the other hand, brought up the dynamic shock: “steering was direct and communicative, its suspension calm and composed, its ride firm, its clutch engaging perfectly mid-travel, and its slop-free shifter smooth and satisfying. Notice that, in our slalom, the Yaris was only 0.5 mph behind the winning Fit.” From a Toyota subcompact? That’s not supposed to happen, is it?
The same could be said back in 2000 with the Echo and 2000 Corolla S— the Echo posted better performance, had more interior/trunk space, and economy. Unlike then, though, the Echo was the newer car than the aging Corolla. Now the ’14 Corolla is newer than the circa 2012 Yaris, and still can’t upstage the little hatch. The Yaris SE had mostly the same treatment as the Corolla S: firmer suspension and four wheel disks. Where the Yaris continued was the quicker steering rack. Getting a manual Yaris SE will yield the most fun cheap Toyota for now, since the Corolla still continues to be a laughing stock.