Asian-Indians, Rejoice! The automotive messiah has arrived

The 2014 Toyota Corolla. © Toyota Motor Corp

Asian-Indians the world over can now heave a huge sigh of relief. Most of them do not venture beyond a Corolla, Civic, Camry or an Accord. And seeing the number of mustachioed men from Indian ancestry with Ganapati, the elephant-head god on the dashboard squiring their better halves around in the beige-mobiles, it seems to me that this demographic did not care that their chariots redefined the word – bland.

But clearly, Corolla’s customers from other ethnicities were more discerning. And Toyota had to sit up and take notice. Especially since the C-segment became white hot with the introduction of the Hyundai Elantra and later, the Kia Forte. So Toyota concluded that a design that offends no one but pleases no one either may not be enough, even in view of its bulletproof reliability. And it had no other option but to make a more daring design. And for the first time since, well the eighties, the Corolla looks better than it’s arch-rival, the Civic. High praise, indeed.

So, the car has LED headlamps. That’s a first in not just this, but a lot of categories. It gets the ubiquitous CVT. Forgive my curmudgeonly ways, but for me a six-speed manual is the way to go. Automatics and CVTs in particular, are boring as hell. But the EPA gods have decreed otherwise and the Corolla must adopt the CVT to get to 40 mpg.. I hope its has lost drone and can mimic an old-fashioned automatic. Also, much like the obesity-ridden American population, the Corolla gains another couple of inches in wheel-base. But as long as it keeps up with Civics and the Sentras, who cares.

Toyota claims that its electric power steering and CVT mimic the feeling of more traditional systems but till yours truly gets a chance to drive it, he reserves comment. The Corolla commits the cardinal sin of offering the ugly steel wheels on the ‘LE’. And everyone in auto-dom is guilty of this except for VW.

The Corolla’s retro interior © Toyota Motor Corp

The interior too could be more daring … particularly since Civic pushed the envelope with the 2008 Civic. But instead it has gone retro. I don’t mean the electronic doo-dahs. It has the requisite infotainment systems needed to entertain a driver bored by driving CVTs. I mean it’s cliff-like visage reminds me of the seventies version. Me and other vertically challenged drivers cast out such choices such designs right away since it gives me the feeling of sitting in a bath-tub. 

I would give it an A for effort if not for execution but then it is pretty hard to get an A in my class. I wish Toyota would sell us a station wagon version and get rid of the dreary Matrix. That would get an A from me for execution as well.


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