2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback: So Long, Scion

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

We can put any speculation that Toyota wants to cull its five-door Corolla iM to rest right now. The automaker has revealed an all-new 2019 model ahead of its official debut at next week’s New York International Auto Show, but with a new body and platform comes a slight name change.

The last vestiges of the defunct Scion brand, under which the iM was born in 2015, is now gone. Thus, the Corolla iM becomes simply the Corolla Hatchback. With this model, based on the European-market Auris, Toyota attempts to correct a couple of its predecessor’s glaring flaws.

While we never expected razor-sharp handling and performance from the earlier iM, that model possessed all the heart-pounding thrills of a tablet of valium. With its lighter TNGA platform and lowered center of gravity, the new hatch seeks to make amends.

Torsional rigidity is up 60 percent, Toyota claims, thanks to the use of aluminum and ultra-high tensile steel. Front and rear, the hatch’s revised suspension promises improved damping and a more refined ride. It’s possible a driver might just feel like tossing it around. We’ll be the judge.

Overall, the new Corolla hatch grows 1.5 inches in wheelbase and length, and adds 1.2 inches in width. Height shrinks by an inch.

As ho-hum as the previous iM’s ride was, the model performed worse in two categories: front seat comfort and power. This author wasn’t the only TTACer to discover the iM’s shocking lack of seat and armrest support, and the model’s ancient 1.8-liter four-cylinder and droning continuously variable transmission hardly screamed “performance!”

For 2019, Toyota stripped out the 1.8-liter and old-school CVT, replacing them with a new Dynamic-Force 2.0-liter mill and a revised CVT that actually takes acceleration into mind. Torque specs aren’t available, but horsepower stands at 168 hp, up 31 hp from the iM. This new engine — lighter than its predecessor — features a 13:1 compression ratio and numerous attempts to reduce NVH.

The CVT, which boasts 10 pre-programmed shift points to go with its sport mode, also features a launch gear. When starting from a standstill, the transmission utilizes a gear drive to get the car off the line, then reverts back to belt drive for efficiency. A wider gear range (class-leading, says Toyota) should improve fuel economy. Of course, if paddle-shifting a CVT leaves you cold, there’s still a six-speed manual on offer, now with downshift rev-matching.

Our second gripe — a total lack of comfort — might also be eliminated in this new model. Toyota specifically mentions revised seat cushioning, promising “a more natural body posture.” It’s even possible the driver’s left hand might be able to reach the steering wheel when his or her elbow is resting on the door-mounted armrest. One can dream…

The Corolla Hatchback, available in SE and XSE trim, throws a lot of standard kit at buyers. There’s an 8.0-inch touchscreen even in the entry model, plus Apple CarPlay, Entune 3.0 audio, and the Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 suite of driver assist features. Automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection are included in the TSS 2.0 package.

Sales start this summer, but we’ll get a chance to poke around the car in New York next week. Pricing has not yet been announced.

[Images: Toyota]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • El scotto El scotto on Mar 24, 2018

    Because Toyota. A 300,000 mile first car or commuter beast. A hatch and seats that fold down for Ikea/Home Depot runs. You won'tlove it but you want hate it and it'll be cheap to run. Could Bark do a column on the average ATP of Japanese vs American new car sales. I don't think we'd be shocked to find that Toyota/Honda dealers are a license to print money.

    • See 1 previous
    • El scotto El scotto on Mar 24, 2018

      @JohnTaurus Hate to disappoint you mon ami. I spent a good 20 years driving an F-150 or a Ranger every work day. Some weekend days on the farm. I had a 67 Mustang convertible with the pony interior and a red 87 Vanilla Ice 5.0 Mustang convertible. When it came time to trade my Escape, transmission going out at 135k miles, the Ford dealer didn't have anything I wanted. It came down to a CPO Lincoln Mk-something or a CPO Lexus. Toyota reliability won. Now do you mean popular by request or as a percentage of rental fleet? Numbers do come in handy at times like that. Sheesh, not another Nissan from Enterprise.

  • JohnTaurus JohnTaurus on Mar 24, 2018

    It looks about 150% better (though I'm not exactly thrilled with the front end, its still a remarkable improvement), sounds like it'll drive decent and be decent to be inside of for a change. I'm glad they didn't give up on our market just when the car finally became worth a look.

  • Jonathan IMO the hatchback sedans like the Audi A5 Sportback, the Kia Stinger, and the already gone Buick Sportback are the answer to SUVs. The A5 and the AWD version of the Stinger being the better overall option IMO. I drive the A5, and love the depth and size of the trunk space as well as the low lift over. I've yet to find anything I need to carry that I can't, although I admit I don't carry things like drywall, building materials, etc. However, add in the fun to drive handling characteristics, there's almost no SUV that compares.
  • C-b65792653 I'm starting to wonder about Elon....again!!I see a parallel with Henry Ford who was the wealthiest industrialist at one time. Henry went off on a tangent with the peace ship for WWI, Ford TriMotor, invasive social engineering, etc. Once the economy went bad, the focus fell back to cars. Elon became one of the wealthiest industrialist in the 21st century. Then he went off with the space venture, boring holes in the ground venture, "X" (formerly Twitter), etc, etc, etc. Once Tesla hit a plateau and he realized his EVs were a commodity, he too is focused on his primary money making machine. Yet, I feel Elon is over reacting. Down sizing is the nature of the beast in the auto industry; you can't get around that. But hacking the Super Charger division is like cutting off your own leg. IIRC, GM and Ford were scheduled to sign on to the exclusive Tesla charging format. That would have doubled or tripled his charging opportunity. I wonder what those at the Renaissance Center and the Glass House are thinking now. As alluded to, there's blood in the water and other charging companies will fill the void. I believe other nations have standardized EV charging (EU & China). Elon had the chance to have his charging system as the default in North America. Now, he's dropped the ball. He's lost considerable influence on what the standardized format will eventually be. Tremendous opportunity lost. 🚗🚗🚗
  • Tassos I never used winter tires, and the last two decades I am driving almost only rear wheel drive cars, half of them in MI. I always bought all season tires for them, but the diff between touring and non touring flavors never came up. Does it make even the smallest bit of difference? (I will not read the lengthy article because I believe it does not).
  • Lou_BC ???
  • Lou_BC Mustang sedan? 4 doors? A quarterhorse?Ford nomenclature will become:F Series - Pickups Raptor - performance division Bronco - 4x4 SUV/CUVExplorer - police fleetsMustang- cars
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