ROAD TEST: Toyota Corolla GX

What can be said about the Corolla that hasn’t really already been said before. Many, many times before.
It’s a car. Not a particularly exciting car, but far from being offensively awful. Well engineered. Reliable. User friendly. Solid resale. A bit dull. Kind of like those processed, individually wrapped cheese slices really; you know what you’re getting and it rarely ever deviates from that.
And I really can’t disagree with that. It’s a Corolla. It fails to ignite anything in the way of excitement in me. It really is the definitive case of Car as an Appliance. The Corolla is merely transport. Utterly competent, utterly anonymous transport.
Not that this is in any way a bad thing. After all dull predictability is actually a very good thing in a car. The Italians may well have made the mere act of starting a car an exercise somewhat akin to Lotto as to whether your engine will burst into either life or flames, but most of us don’t actually want that kind of excitement from our cars.
So that’s why the Corolla is the biggest selling car in the known universe. Or something like that.
So this is a Corolla GX manual, complete with the 1.8-litre petrol four-cylinder engine, sitting on steel wheels and about as close to the bottom of the range as it is possible to get in the Corolla  range. To go any lower you would have to go to a wagon and you wouldn’t want to do that.
It features a trip computer, single-disc CD player, air conditioning, cloth seats, hard plastics, umm… a steering wheel? That’s about it really. It is in no way exciting, neither is it offensive. It simply is.
The engine is neither outrageously powerful, nor ridiculously underpowered. It’s about right really. The chassis is neither stupidly firm for carving corners, nor  is it dumbly floppy for comfort. It’s about right too.
It handles, well, “okay” is really the best word. It’s fuel consumption is perfectly acceptable. It’s comfortable without being luxurious. It has plenty of space (without being excessive) and everything seems to be in the right place when you reach for it.
It’s kind of like when you were at school – you remember the trouble makers (or in my case, was one…) because they were fun, you remember the nerds because they were fun to make fun of, you remember the cool kids because they were cool, but buggered if you can remember the name of the kid who simply sat there doing his work without saying much or standing out in any way.
That kid probably grew up to be a Corolla. Or an accountant, which is actually more likely. But the chances are good that he drives a Corolla, because just like him it sits on the median. It does everything expected of it, it does it well and it does it without any fuss.
The Corolla GX is a car. Nothing more, nothing less. If you answer the question “what kind of car do you drive?” with “a grey one” then the Corolla GX is perfect for you.

This article first appeared in New Zealand Company Vehicle magazine.

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