Preview by Mark Stevenson, photos courtesy Toyota

2014 Toyota Corolla S
2014 Toyota Corolla S. Click image to enlarge

There aren’t many other companies that can state their compact offering is about to go into its eleventh generation. Toyota can. Since 1966, production of the world’s bestselling car (and arguably the current bestselling car, depending on how you do the math) has continued uninterrupted until today, and Toyota has no plans for that to change anytime soon.

With that long a run, Toyota has come under fire for being complacent with the Corolla, even if it still sells in massive numbers. Competition in this segment is fierce; there are better-equipped and more modern options on the market.

Will the new, eleventh generation Corolla shorten the gap? Will it be the compact benchmark once again? Or will it continue resting on its laurels, content with ‘also-ran’ equipment, packaging, and refinement?

For 2014, Toyota seems to be kicking things up a notch with the Corolla, at least visually.

At the 2013 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Toyota rolled out a new design – the Corolla Furia Concept – to gauge reactions before revealing the next-generation commuter car. Angular, sculpted lines gave the Furia a very aggressive stance; the roofline tried to hide the fact the concept was a four-door. Overall, the concept was a knockout, at least for the segment.

But the Furia was simply a teaser of what was to come. A new Corolla would be here in June.

2014 Toyota Corolla LE Eco
2014 Toyota Corolla LE Eco. Click image to enlarge

Fast-forward to summer, and Toyota has rolled out the successor to the compact beige-mobile. More aggressive on the outside and more refined on the inside, the new Corolla is serious about taking back the compact crown.

Globally, the Corolla holds the sales leader card. This new iteration is meant to reinforce its firm hold of superiority and get it back in the game in regions where others have made serious in-roads, like here in Canada.

Visually, the new Corolla pays homage to the Corolla Furia Concept, but also gets a lot of inspiration from the Camry and, to a lesser degree, from the Scion tC. As with most new cars, Corolla also grows in almost every dimension.

Up front, the Corolla gets a heavily reworked fascia that uses the Furia as a template. Headlights get a more modern, angular shape, as if someone drew MG6 headlights with a ruler. The grille is an upside-down version of the Camry’s, with an open upper air intake instead of a crossbar. Below the upper air inlet, a large air dam, rounded off trapezoidal fog light enclosures, and LED headlights (as standard, a segment first) complete the look. Corollas in S trim get a more aggressive front bumper.

Moving 90 degrees to the side, you are presented with a very generic silhouette that could be confused with many cars in the same segment. Wheelbase has been stretched by 100 mm (3.93 inches), with wheels pushed more toward the corners allowing for shorter overhangs. The body itself grows an additional 99 mm.

2014 Toyota Corolla LE Eco2014 Toyota Corolla LE Eco2014 Toyota Corolla LE Eco2014 Toyota Corolla LE Eco
2014 Toyota Corolla LE Eco. Click image to enlarge

The Hofmeister kink, traditionally used on BMWs to hint at their rear-wheel propulsion, graces the rear door of the front-wheel-drive Corolla, just as it does the Scion tC, another front-wheel-drive car. Ride height also looks to be visually increased, with large gaps between the tires and wheel wells.

At back, the side and rear bumper meet at a sharp crease (as it does at the front) with large taillights sitting high on the belt line. Unlike the aggressive look of the front fascia, the rear design looks generic and falls a bit flat.

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