First drive: 2014 Toyota Corolla in the UAE

First drive: 2014 Toyota Corolla in the UAE

2014 Toyota Corolla in the UAE
What kind of people buy Toyota Corollas? Maybe the kind who walk into a showroom and the first thing they ask is “does it come with an automatic?” Maybe the kind who has a great job in the GCC and still keeps asking “how will I survive these high petrol prices?” Or maybe the kind whose first question to a Jaguar sports-car owner is “what’s the resale value?”

So it doesn’t really matter that the 2014 Toyota Corolla comes with ancient drivetrains and rides on the most basic of suspension setups. It has a positive answer to all the questions posed above. And guess what, it’s actually a pretty good car.

The all-new Corolla is only slightly longer than the outgoing one, but gaining 100 mm of wheelbase in the process. As such, it is indubitably spacious on the inside, with rear legroom maybe only a smidge less than that of a Camry. Even the boot is huge. It’s also supposed to be slightly lower than the previous model, although it still looks too tall, especially with those huge wheel-well gaps.

2014 Toyota Corolla in the UAE 15

That new front-end is very original, and Toyota is especially proud of the chrome grille that sort of extends into the LED-sprinkled headlights, with even more LEDs around the foglamps on our mid-range 2.0 SE Plus version.

2014 Toyota Corolla in the UAE 12

Other features on our tester included smart keyless entry and start, dual front airbags, ABS with EBD, manual a/c, 6-speaker CD/MP3/USB stereo, power windows and not much else. At least the interior has a fair amount of soft-touch surfaces on the dash-top and door sills to offset the generous chunks of hard plastics. Moving up to the top Limited version adds projector headlamps, cruise control, sunroof and an auto a/c, but you still won’t get rear vents, leather, navigation or side-airbags.

Going back to powertrain options, there’s a 121 hp 1.6-litre and a 143 hp 2.0-litre, both mated to basic 4-speed automatics and front-wheel-drive platforms that ride on independent front and torsion-beam rear suspension. To be honest, these specs are pathetic compared to, say, a Ford Focus. But the ratty engines keep prices low, and Toyota is open about the fact that it was a choice between an old 4-speed or a new CVT, as seen in other markets, and they figured the GCC ain’t ready for a CVT in a Toyota yet.

Our 2.0-litre tester was as slow as most others in its segment, but wholly adequate as a commuter car. While it takes a heavy foot to get it going initially, the 4-speed keeps the revs at a high 3000 rpm while doing 120 kph, so already being close to its peak power-band ironically helps it perform overtaking manoeuvres a fair bit quicker that we expected. It took a mild toll on fuel economy though, as we averaged an as-displayed 9.5 litres/100 km.

2014 Toyota Corolla in the UAE 5

The ride quality is pretty good. It’s almost as smooth as a Camry over most surfaces, but wind noise can reach somewhat high levels on the highway, more audible than in the Nissan Sentra or the Ford Focus.

Handling is also surprisingly good with the 205-width rubbers on 16-inch alloys, up to a point of course. Body roll isn’t overly excessive, and grip is more than enough. We pushed it moderately, swinging it lightly as we entered curves, fully expecting to hear tyre squeals that never came. Pushing it harder results in clean understeer, and the tail never steps out of line in emergency lane-changes. Even the brakes are fine, with linear pedal feel. It’s no Focus, but it’s still fine.

If we had a complaint, it’s the steering. It’s so light and vague that even simply driving in a straight line requires little constant corrections. Oddly enough, we could still prominently feel the texture of the road through the leatherette-wrapped wheel.

2014 Toyota Corolla in the UAE 3

Still, judging the car for what it is, there isn’t a whole lot to complain about. It lags behind its top rivals in just about every major category. But it gets the basics right, and sometimes, basic is enough. Until recently, my father’s only car used to be a basic 1997 Toyota Corolla that I found horrendous to drive back in the day. But I’d rock this new model without any whining.

For prices and specs, visit the Toyota Corolla buyer guide.

What do you think?



  1. East or west Toyota is the best.

    • Once a corolla, is always a corolla !
      even if you add to it wings it will remain a corolla !!

    • I never owned a Corolla, but can see as much on the road as the dislikes on this website.

    • if someone said that corolla is the best, mean he/she never drive other vehicle like Civic, Elantra or Mazda,
      those who’s choose toyota just poor think about resale value only, and disregards comfortable in driving

  2. Is it coming with a rear camera?Thought of buying this car but after this review ,made to think twice to buy this car.

  3. I already saw a white one on road 3days back…. but i dint see it listed on toyota website yet at tat time..

  4. The point is the Koreans do all that and even better while being cheaper. Atleast this new corolla looks great πŸ˜‰

  5. it listed on toyota website yet at tat time..

  6. @mash

    is this car made in Japan or Taiwan?

  7. I also thought to buy now I think to do some more research seeing your review, Mashfique which one is good compare to sentra and this one

    • Just curious to know how is Sentra doing in the UAE, in the KSA Sentra is a rare sight, you don’t find them , Sunny is more common. Actually Sunny, Corolla and the Civic were three Japanese competitors. Sunny has now officially stepped down and the all new Sentra is pitched against the Corolla-Civic.

    • @mash is the above car color grey or brown ? Thinking of getting grey over white.Which color did you like?

    • Author

      Sentra is doing fine here. And this Corolla is grey.

  8. In KSA the ALJ agency says its all made in Thailand to keep the prices low. As Mashfique says, some times basic is enough, and in some cases there cant be a better choice than a corolla, If you need an extremely reliable car with decent performance.

    I guess the CVT is reserved for the mid life upgrade in 2017 or 2016 as they did in 2011 from 5S manual to 6S manual.

    One may say the Corolla has dated transmission and drivetrain and misses all the bells and whistles compared to its competitors but none can challenge its reliability.

    After all its the largest selling car in the world !

  9. I noticed that you didn’t compare it to the Honda Civic?!

  10. If it were for the basics, I would simply pick a Renault Duster over this..Resale is now the only factor leaning jn favour of Corolla..But I do admit that it looks pretty good compared to the previous model

  11. would you compare it to Civic please?

  12. 4 speed auto still? * slow clap*
    Civic > Corolla

    • Author

      Civic is better than the Corolla, for the most part, but with the price difference, I think they end up on two different budgets.

  13. does it make much difference if its a 4 A or a 5 A gear…..please advise

    • In the city, cuz of speed limits and traffic signals you hardly drive over 80km/h
      So even if you car has 5A, generally it’ll stick in 4th gear so for city driving it doesn’t really matter
      If you often drive on highway and stuff, tha’s when the difference between a 4A and 5A creeps in. Lesser gears mean the rpms will be higher leading to more engine noise and higher fuel consumption.
      I’ve driven a corolla 2011 model (4A) and 80-100km/h the rpms are above 2,500 which makes it annoyingly noisy
      My prado 2007 model on the other hand is a 5A so it does 120 at 2,100 rpm which is nice and quite
      It does 80 at 1,300rpm which seems like the engine is literally off πŸ˜›
      Hope that helps πŸ™‚

    • You are better off with 5 gears in our kind of traffic. We have high speed limits so the car always gets up to 80-100km/h.
      4 gears is last century engineering, but because its cheap and ppl here buy Toyota anyway this is what you get. We generally have a poorly informed buyer that all it wants its a reliable, cheap car.

    • you should not compare rpm of Corolla with Prado
      they are different categories with different engines

  14. Upgraded exterior but very bland and basic interior !! Sentra is a way better option but corolla has a better reliability and resale value ! Problem is that any car that carries a toyota badge automatically carries the resale and reliability baggage with it although the design and styling is very outdated !!

  15. its pretty basic car in UAE but. i am waiting when this car ll launch in Pakistan… and it ll be manual gear, good ground clearance,reliability and resale value … that’s all i need there in Pakistan

  16. With 6Automatic, 148hp, 17″alloy215 width,beautiful two tone stitch leather interior, 7″ touch screen multimedia, hydraulic steering, automatic headlights etc I think chevy cruze is the best option in this segment..

    • Certainly loaded with features but reliability might be an issue since it’s a new car and people still haven’t used it for more than 4-5 years
      Civic and Corolla’s are much more reliable and cheaper maintenance.
      Chevy Cruze is also heavy so 148bhp seems alot but it’s much heavier than a civic or corolla so 0-100 it might come 3rd compared to civic and corolla

    • My friend had a Cruze LT until recently. Mechanically the car did just fine. But dealer maintenance costs were insane, and the quality of the interior materials were crap. The interior held up well except for some creaks, but were visibly inferior in quality when compared to any cars in its segment.


  18. Where is backup camera? side air bag? stability control?
    Subaru Impreza had all that + symmetric all wheel drive + reliability history …. same price … Drive Arabia should be fair enough when evaluating

    • If you love Subaru so much then go buy one instead of complaining on a Toyota article. Subaru is a flop brand.

    • You dont need all those in an economy car…

    • In Europe, the new Corolla base model comes with: ABS, EBD, VSC, TRC, 9 airbags, 6 gears…..and many other options. Price starts at 67k dhs.
      Its not an economy car, but here in UAE they want to keep the price very low so thats why you dont get much. Its a shame, expecially for the safety options and the old gearbox we get here.

  19. As per the buyer’s guide, manual windows in base model!! where are they living? lol….these entry level models are a joke and what make them do that is the “resale value” myth of nonsense..

    • Another advice for re-sale value seekers! Enjoy life it is short and you cannot predict the future..what if an accident happens to you resale value queen? The more you are thinking this way the more some can sell you manual windowed cars for some others are providing navigation in the same category!!!!!!!!

    • wake up guys, that is how the world works. one is material value, the other perceived intangible value


  20. Looks bulky to me but good, interior is not so much impressive.
    Well I would prefer civic over corolla ” that is my opinion ” .

  21. hi there,
    the limited edition corolla is available in qatar??..please advise…in qatar mostly we are getting the base versions….thanks

  22. WHat is the BRRICEEE?? πŸ˜›

  23. Friends i need advice. I did test drive of the new carolla and thought of buying it. But in a fix to chose between Altima 2013, Civic 2014, Carolla 2014 SE + or Cruz 2014 ? Can you please suggest and if possible with reasons.

    • Altima for sure. A step up next to the others.

    • Altima 2013
      Civic 2014
      Corolla 2014
      Cruz 2014
      Reasons:Altima has better engine(2.5),better handling,more space than others.
      Civic has better design,better fuel economy,better handling than corolla but it’s the most expensive.
      Corolla is the best seller car all over the world,better resale value and maintenance costs but not the best handling or the best design.
      Cruz,good design,lower performance,lower resale value,low interior quality and expensive maintenance costs in comparison with others


  25. Which is better? Nissan Sentra or this new Corolla? I am sure this will sell like hot cake, but is Sentra has an edge in terms of overall features?

  26. In Egypt we have the Turkish version . It is awesome cvt , park assistant , led , lcd , electronic AC dual ,6 airbags, rare Camera,cruise control,etc. Though it is 1.6.

  27. Still waiting for your full review/road test talking more about handling in this new corolla and how far is the difference in handling than the previous model.

  28. Have recently purchased a corola se+ , its good car only thing lacking it does not have Bluetooth option , reverse camera or parking sensor , but easily can be done from agency or outside and the look is awesome with new ADL and Fog lamp , trust me

  29. Believe Corola is better option then sentra , or still budget is more go for altima

  30. Hello,
    i am from KSA,I am planning to buy a small sedan,
    my budget is around 50,000.00 AED/SAR
    can u please tell me which is the best sedan under this price.
    i am thinking between toyta yaris/hyundai accent/Nissan Sunny.
    Please advice.

  31. The only hitch for the new crolla is tht its a 4 gear. While doin 140 rpm would b aroun 4 maybe. even at 120 rpm would b at 3 like the old corolla…engine noise may be???

  32. seven hours engine was on toyota corolla without moving any problems

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