By on March 23, 2018

Image: Toyota

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.

Image: Toyota

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.

Image: Toyota

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]

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40 Comments on “2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback: So Long, Scion...”


  • avatar
    Big3trucks

    I like the rear end, but the front looks a little too “Priusey”.

  • avatar
    turbo_awd

    Stick something like the 2.0t from the IS300 into it, and I’m at least listening..

  • avatar
    slavuta

    Mazda3 from the side and inside. Basically, Toyota goes Mazda

  • avatar
    MrGrieves

    My daily driver is a 2017 Corolla iM and it’s a great little car for everyday use. Only complaint is the weak engine / CVT combo and the interior build quality is a little sketchy… lots of squeaks and rattles from around the dash. Give it an extra 25-30 HP and tighten up the interior construction and it’ll be a superlative vehicle.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    It can’t be anything but an improvement over the current Corolla, which is AWFUL to drive.

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    If the XSE is available with the 6-speed, and the new engine exceeds 150HP, I will be test driving one for a potential future purchase. Just got the Elantra GT though, and I won’t have it paid off till 2020, but I’m always looking out for what will be my next car!

  • avatar
    djsyndrome

    Would it have killed them to bring the Matrix name back?

  • avatar
    Goatshadow

    I’m digging it, at least in those photos with the upscale wheels. And the available manual.

  • avatar
    KevinC

    Look, somebody strapped a Corolla to an iPad clone. When will this awful styling element die?? And they just keep getting bigger and bigger. So ugly.

  • avatar
    TTACFanatic

    Looks decent, and 13:1 2.0L makes me think there might be some SkyActiv tech in the mix. Jalopnik is reporting that it’ll have a manual, if it comes in brown too, it’ll be the TTAC car of the year.

    • 0 avatar
      HEOJ

      The engine is probably part of Toyota’s new dynamic force engine family, a variant of the same engine going into the Lexus UX, its smaller than Mazda’s Skyactiv(1987cc vs 1998cc).

      • 0 avatar
        TTACFanatic

        Well dang. The Lexus version (A20A-FKS) is rumored to have 84HP/L, hopefully they won’t shave too much off for the sake of product segmentation. I’m guessing they’ll stick to 150HP, which is a little disappointing.

  • avatar
    Fordson

    So the takeaway here seems to be if it’s not a total piece of crap like the previous one, it’ll be a winner.

    Got it.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    That’s a good looking car.I’ve always wished the GTI had a more sloping rear hatch, not full-on Mitsu sportback but something like this.

  • avatar
    Sloomis

    Better looking than the current hatch, apart from the angry fish face. I couldn’t get past the half-assed tacked-on looking body kit on the iM.

  • avatar
    dougjp

    Dynamic Force? Oh please! A NA 2.0 is the best this hatch has? And a CVT as well? Don’t they look around and see what the competition offers?

    • 0 avatar
      djsyndrome

      There’s a 6-speed manual in the highest trim level, which is something most of its competition doesn’t offer.

      Toyota’s play here is safety and feature count; performance is going to be left to their new BFF Mazda. Toyota hasn’t build a hatch worth a damn since the 1st generation Matrix XRS.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      The competition offers CVTs and horsepower in this general vicinity. The best selling compact has a CVT. So it’ll come down to programming of that CVT and overall power delivery.

      Are spec-sheet enthusiasts even interested in this segment?

      • 0 avatar
        scott25

        To be fair, the Civic which I assume is the best selling compact in US like it is in Canada, probably has one of the highest manual take rates of any car, along with the 3.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      What competition, and who do you think is buying anything less anemic than this in any real quantities? This is a class that mostly just expects adequacy, which this new motor should have no problem delivering (with the hopeful bonus of lasting for half a million miles with little more than oil changes).

  • avatar
    bluegoose

    I liked the looks of the outgoing IM and I really like the looks of this car. The IM had a nice double wishbone rear suspension it just needed some more power. I would be looking at this car as a long term commuter. Its a non turbo and a non hybrid but it if gets 35+ MPG then it may be a winner in my eyes. The Mazda 3 is a little better looking, but I would not want to deal with their dealer network.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    So the tooling and dies for the 1.8 finally wore out?

    Time will tell if this 168hp 2.0 can keep up with the similarly powered Golfs, Civics, Mazda3s, and I’ll believe the driver comfort claims when I see it.

  • avatar
    jimbo1126

    For once, a nice, clean, relatively simple Toyota interior. Their dashboards in particular have been overwrought of late.

  • avatar
    MoparRocker74

    Typical Toyota. Here, they actually have something that COULD be appealing, and they hamstring it by not giving it some semblance of balls. I expect as much from the tin coffin known as the corolla sedan, but hatches with something under the hood are the one type of small car that at least someone cares about. They DID at least keep a manual option, so its not a total loss.

  • avatar
    2drsedanman

    “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”.

    Sort of like a modern day powerglide.

  • avatar
    scott25

    I assume no one here has driven a CHR, since that’s a good way to experience the TNGA platform. If this keeps its best characteristics, aka the smooth ride and they put the INCREDIBLE seats from the CHR in it, while making it handle slightly better and roomier, which it will be since it’s not a crossover and a larger vehicle, they’ll have a winner.

    The CVT in the CHR isn’t terrible by CVT standards, though still pretty bad, but I assume it’s the older generation Toyota CVT and not the new-fangled one?

  • avatar
    el scotto

    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.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Toyota Corolla and Toyota Camry are some of the most popular rental cars today, along with Nissans. If that isn’t taken into account, I’m sure you’re Toyota loving heart would be delighted at the results.

      Honda is the one that kills it in the retail market. Not saying that no Hondas become rental cars, because that isn’t the case, but their retail sales are where Toyota and Nissan wish upon a million stars their sedans were.

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        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.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    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.

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