Toyota Corolla Altis Diesel Recalled in India

“Recall”, we seem Toyota is quite popular with this word, as had recalled Prius in 2010, and now news came in plunging that Corolla Altis made in between 3rd August 2012 and 14th February 2013 is also recalled for the driveshaft issue.

Learnt from the sources, certain Corolla Altis “Diesel” is showing aberration on the left or right side of driveshaft which means just a couple of hours at the authorized dealership of Toyota Kirloskar Motors dealership for its replacement/repair. As said, around 1000 cars are affected from this nuisance but hopefully the car owners will not have pay any of the cost, all cranking will be done for free of charge by the automaker.

Toyota Corolla Altis

Just that much known for now, but lastly, Corolla Altis sits in the C+ sedan segment of industry inching space with big notches – compelling the tag of poor man’s Mercedes, and need not say what does that mean to be a owner of such pricey bonk. A 1.4L D-4D turbo diesel motor is fitted in its bay to churn out impressively 90 bhp and 200 Nm of torque guised by conventional 6 speed manual gearbox.

Toyota Occupies the Top Slot of Global Car Seller for 2102

Toyota had proven that Japanese engineering is the most preferred one in 2012. In spite of not just building good quality cars, it had faced a cut throat competition from rivals of America and Germany.

The Japanese carmaker sold out 9.75 million vehicles worldwide in 2012, including sales of Dahitsu Motor Co. and Hino Motors Ltd. The initial top line of Toyota (including Lexus) marked at 8.72 million which is up by 22.8% as compared to last calendar year.

Second and third positions are filled by General Motors and Volkswagen with numbers of 9.28 million and 9.07 million respectively.

Toyota Occupies the Top Slot of Global Car Seller for 2102
This year figures of Toyota are the highest in history of magnificent 75 years. Though, it is not the dead end for carmaker as it hopes to sell around 9.91 million units in global markets for 2013.

After tackling some strong recalls in US and supply chain rupture due to Thailand floods in 2011, it wasn’t a cakewalk for the organization to gate crash into 2012.

Renault Fluence vs Toyota Corolla Altis vs Skoda Laura vs Honda Civic – mixed baggage


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The D segment has seen many new entrants recently. Some refreshed ones while the others are still chugging along with their old virtues. The only worthwhile all new launch was that of the Renault Fluence in India. Needless to say, it has stirred up quite a few things. The reigning segment leader is the Skoda Laura and in a bid to nullify the Fluence effect, Skoda dropped prices of its Laura petrol version and made it even closer to the Fluence. Now, the Toyota Corolla Altis in India is one good produce whichever one in here wishes to dethrone from its pedestal. It recently underwent a facelift and some engine revisions and is almost good as an all new product or that is what Toyota wants us to believe. Now, the fourth competitor is the Honda Civic in India. Since its launch in 2006, the car has seen some minor facelift and addition of a sunroof. Both the things not withstanding, the Civic was the ultimate choice for many since its launch. So, has the Renault Fluence launched the right assault or is it still being sidelined by the others here. Read on to find out if the D segment has found out a new heir to the throne.

Looks

To say the truth, we still think that the Honda Civic is the best looking car in its category. That said, Honda are trying to bank on the Civic’s looks much in the same way Maruti are trying with the Swift. Cut to the newest member of the D segment, the Renault Fluence in India. It has got the corporate face of Renault, which would be visible in all the future cars from the French manufacturer’s stables. The eyelids of this car feel a bit devilish in their looks from some angles. Somewhat like a snake in motion or ready to spring on its prey. From the rear, the Fluence feels a tad more stylish than the others in this class. If style is what one wants from their car, then the Honda Civic in India provides that in oodles. Even after so many years, a Civic in white color tends to draw attention to it. The new square headlamps have an element of black in them. While the twin tail pipes at the rear amply demonstrate its sporty intentions. As for the side look, the Civic seems real boy racer tool. Now, the Toyota Corolla would be made out to be a fresh model from the Toyota stables and infact for a wink or two, Toyota would make one believe so. However, that is not the case here. Some slight tinkering in the grille and a new alloy theme and that’s all. However, these changes have brought it much closer to the much bigger Camry. For the Skoda Laura, there are no good styling details. Even the alloys seem kinda boring. For the aspect regarding the overall stance, the Laura wouldn’t offend someone and nor would someone prefer to call it as boring enough. It is just a slab  of brick which has been redesigned into a car. Skoda offers the option to change the single tail pipe of the TSI variant to twin ones.

It would be the Honda Civic which should be the ramp queen followed by the nonchalant Renault Fluence for its unique factor, then the Altis and the Skoda.

Interiors

The interiors of all the 4 cars here are different as are their badges. The Corolla Altis has got familiar interiors but then the entire dashboard has been given a revamp and which ranks now very closer to the one in the bigger Camry. The half spoke half leather steering wheel however still persists. Long gone are the optitron meter dials and a more conventional ones find their presence here. Unfortunately, there is no navigation system provided but a touchscreen audio system is now standard. Electrical adjustment is available for the driver’s seat as also for the front passenger. Backseat comfort is what the customers in this class usually demand and the Corolla has always being the choice for the chauffer driven. But then the Renault Fluence with its all digital instrumentation is the new benchmark as far as rear seat comfort is concerned. It has got the perfect seatback angle with lots of leg space and there are many goodies also present in the cabin. It also has got leather seats as standard fare. For the Honda Civic, it is all kind of digital fare inside the cabin and it is a good thing that the cabin looks after even being in the eye for a good 6 years. However, seating is at its lowest in this Honda and hence the elderly wouldn’t appreciate the ingress and egress position in this car. However, the seating has a good front and back seat but then the entire thing is so low that one would feel that they are in a sports car. The middle hump at the rear is however less in the Civic than the other cars in this comparison. The Skoda Laura always has this sporty pretension and so rear seat comfort has been suitably compromised to make way for a better sculpted front seat. The front seat in the Laura is very comfy. The interiors are Spartan though and there are no audio mounted controls for this car here. The Fluence, by the way, has a strange contraption for audio controls and those are on a stalk mounted behind the steering wheel. Speaking of the Laura, Skoda are very reluctant to provide the petrol engined car with any goodies just like the way Renault are doing with its diesel engined Fluence. Boot space is more or less the same in all the cars here with the Renault boasting of the lowest figure and the Laura the largest boot.

For the interiors, it would be the Renault Fluence with its all beige and loaded trim levels followed by the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla and the Skoda Laura.
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Handling and ride quality

The Skoda Laura has got a good servoed steering wheel which is quick geared and is a delight to use. Its European character is revealed due to the suspension being on the firmer side. However this firmness which gives precedence to the handling of the car rather than its ride quality, isn’t so over the top. Stability in corners and minimum body roll in this comparison are what define the Laura’s handling finesse. The suspension does soak up the potholes and bumps in its way nicely but it also lets the occupants know what is going on beneath the cabin of the car. However, here the Corolla trumps the Laura with a near carpet type ride quality. It has a long suspension travel and this demonstrates in the way the car goes over potholes with the least murmurs. Moreover, its ground clearance also poses no threat of scraping over the speed breakers. Its only when one tries to push the Corolla harder that they come to know that this car is best for chauffer driven usage only. Lots of body roll compounded with a steering wheel which seems the least enthusiastic in this competition seal the Corolla’s handling prowess. But the new champion as far as the ride quality stakes go is the Renault Fluence. It has got a suspension which soaks up all but the worst potholes. Unlike the Corolla which announces the details of the proceedings, the Fluence just glides over them, much in the same way that the Logan does, but in a much more sophisticated manner. The steering wheel is one of the lightest units in this comparison and it is a breeze to pilot the Fluence in city speeds. On the highways, the steering loses out on the feel factor and its only here that you would miss the Laura’s steering feel. Handling is also at par with the Corolla but with a bit more of finesse and less aversion to corners. As for the steering wheel feel, it is the quick turning Honda Civic which closely matches the steering wheel of the Laura. Moreover, it is the only car in this competition that comes with paddle shifts behind the steering wheel. The Honda Civic has got a suspension which seems to be on the harder side so the handling of the car is a good thing but then it tends to understeer around corners. Body roll, like the Laura, is well contained. Its only in the ride quality stakes that the Civic loses out on. Fully loaded, the foot wheels would almost touch the wheels and all those potholes and stuff get directly relayed to the cabin. For the NVH factor, all the cars here posses a finesse which is worthy of their class bearings. The Laura’s engine however wins our vote for being one of the quietest ones followed by the Fluence, Toyota and then the Honda.

It’s the Laura which has a good mix of ride and handling which wins this stakes followed closely by the Fluence, Corolla and the Civic.

Engine, performance and fuel efficiency

The engines of all the cars here are 4 cylinder ones and most of the units are 1.8 liter ones with the exception of the Fluence. The Fluence has got a 2.0 liter engine which has an output of 135 Bhp and 190 Nm of torque. It has got a 6 speed CVT transmission. 0-100 kmph comes up in only 12.5 seconds while the top speed is 174 kmph. The transmission is a pretty relaxed unit and does relative easy work of everyday driving chores. However, the new updated Corolla Altis has a trick up its sleeve. The 1.8 liter motor now puts in 3 Bhp more than the Fluence but then the torque figure is down by a good 23 Nm. The new Altis gets a 7 speed CVT transmission and this unit is much more refined than the Renault unit. 0-100 kmph is .1 seconds faster in the Corolla than the Fluence and top speed is also higher by 2 kmph. The Honda Civic has got a 1.8 liter motor which puts out 130 Bhp of power and 172 Nm of torque. It has got a 5 speed auto with paddle shifts behind the steering wheel. It races from 0-100 kmph in 12.3 seconds while the top speed is higher at 183 kmph. The engine or rather the powerband is peaky and one needs to really cane the engine to extract performance from it. The paddle shifts are a real delight to be used. Now comes the real powerhouse, the Skoda Laura TSI. Its 1.8 liter motor produces 158 Bhp of power and 250 Nm of torque. It is the only car in this comparison which has got a 6 speed manual transmission. The shifts in this car are real quick and the Laura races from naught to 100 in only 8.6 seconds and achieves a top speed in excess of 180 kmph. Brakes on all the cars are fantastic however the ones in the Fluence really take the piece of cake with ABS, TCS and ESP for company. The Corolla is the one which gets only ABS for company. The Renault Fluence is better kitted out on the safety front as well with 4 airbags as opposed to the 2 in the others.

For overall fuel efficiency, the Corolla delivers 15.22 kmpl, the Fluence delivers 13.5 kmpl, the Civic has 12.3 kmpl while the Laura delivers 13.4 kmpl.

The Corolla doesn’t have the most exciting engine, it however proves to be quite frugal and hence tops the list here. The Skoda Laura mixes performance with fuel efficiency and hence is number two while the rest of the spots are shared by the Fluence and the Civic , in that order.

Verdict

The test proves that being most powerful doesn’t mean losing out on the critical fuel efficiency factor and the reigning king, the Skoda Laura shows it. The new entrant Renault Fluence does everything well but nothing exceptionally so. It has got a nice interiors coupled with very good equipment levels and also superior ride quality. It however lacks the fun to drive factor and the Renault Fluence price in India of Rs 14.40 lakhs is a bit on the stiffer side. On the contrary, the 2011 Toyota Corolla Altis has also got everything going for it including the legendary Toyota badge up its nose. However its lackluster driving dynamics let it down. The 2011 Toyota Corolla Altis price in India is Rs 14.77 lakhs and the Corolla has grown pricier post its facelift. If you prefer Japanese driving dynamics plus an engine which loves to visit the redline too often, then the Honda Civic in India should satiate your needs. However, the ride quality is not upto the mark and also interiors apart from the sunroof don’t boast of much features. Like the Altis, it also has got the much in same ball park “H” logo upfront. The Honda Civic price in India as tested was Rs 14.27 lakhs. For the Skoda Laura, its all about German finesse coupled with nice interior, good engine and transmission combination and also the enthusiastic factor going for it. It is the most powerful car in this comparison and the only turbocharged petrol in its class. However, its ride quality is a bit stiff plus the Skoda aftersales is just not upto the mark. The Laura petrol is also not available with an auto transmission. The Skoda Laura price in India is Rs 13.34 lakhs. At this price, go on adding the equipment from the Fluence into this car and you would almost get the same trim levels and maybe at Rs 2-4k less than the Fluence’s price.

Well, we wouldn’t be able to confirm which would be the best car amongst these cars but if it is driving pleasure that you are looking after, then the Honda Civic and the Skoda Laura would thrill you. If its fuel efficiency, then the Altis and for backseat comfort it would be the Fluence.

Toyota Launches New Corolla Altis Variant

Toyota Kirloskar Motors recently launched a new version of their Corolla Altis luxury sedan. The variant is available in both diesel and petrol options in India, with a price ranging between INR 10.53 lakhs to INR 14.77 lakhs, according to ex-showroom prices in Delhi.

The company’s managing director, Hiroshi Nakagawa, said that following the launch if their first Corolla sedan in the market, back in 2003, the sedan has received a good response in the market. They have so far, managed to sell around 70,000 models of the Corolla sedan pan India.

In 2010, the company had managed to sell around 10,400 units of the Corolla Altis, and expect to sell around 11,500 units in 2011. The recently launched variant is powered by a 1,798cc motor. While the petrol version costs between INR 10.53 lakhs to INR 14.77 lakhs, the diesel version costs between INR 11.46 lakhs to INR 14.55 lakhs.

Honda Civic vs Toyota Corolla Altis – Japanese war


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The Japanese have been recently distraught about the Tsunami which struck their lands. However people across were more concerned with the automotive loss rather than that of the lives. We haven’t heard or read of many fund raisers for these grief stricken Japanese people. The only lamentations that can be heard are that production facilities have been destroyed all across the “Land of Rising Sun”. Many companies like Nissan, Mitsubishi and also Toyota were forced to go off track for this very reason. However it seems that Honda Motors were the worst affected. The reason for this is that although Honda claims that nearly all their facilities are okay but then CBUs coming down to India have been stopped. There is almost a waiting period of 5-6 months for almost all of Honda products in India. That Honda prefers not to manufacture these products here is another part. Toyota don’t look as much hit by the Tsunami however facts do suggest that even they have suffered big losses. But then except for the Camry, production of no other vehicle has been stopped as of yet. But we Indians are in  for a big loss since two of the hatches from this prestigious Japanese manufacturers were supposed to come to our shores very soon. Those two hatches are the Honda Brio and the Toyota Liva. Their launch dates have been postponed and this seems like a bit of disappointment for the Indian car buying populace. After all seeing the success that the Etios is enjoying, Toyota definitely want to capitalize on it. However the story here is of a different kind. Its between the traditional Japanese rivals, the Honda Civic and the Toyota Corolla Altis. But this war is not being carried out in Japan now but rather in India. So gear up for the Toyota Corolla Altis in India and the Honda Civic in India duel.

Looks

As far as the looks go, the Honda is the more radical design. So much so that even after years of it being launched here, it still commands fleeting or even lingering glances. The Honda Civic in India and when we say India, the American model definitely has to be dismissed. It looks more like the Honda City that we have here in India. So the 7th generation Civic that we have here is one of the best one as far as its looks go. Its more like an eligible bachelor all dressed up in the finest of clothes and women just admiring him so that they can hook up with him for the night or even for life. The Toyota Corolla in India however is more of the middle aged man who has designer clothes to his credit, is rich and pompous with a fetish for middle aged women. So both the cars are different in their looks. Actually the earlier Toyota Corolla was the blandest things on wheels. That the same company manufactures the Prius with its Kammback tail is another story. However the newer Altis looks good and is far more a good looker than what the previous generation can lay claim to. Its HID lights would definitely make heads turn as far as night time driving is concerned. Of all the manufacturers out here, Honda is the only one which doesn’t carry a family face legacy here. All its vehicles look different from each other but they definitely have the Japanese look to them. While the Honda looks a boy racer from every angle, the Corolla Altis tends to lend the imposing stance. The Civic has a more radical alloy wheel design than the Corolla Altis and this would appeal to those young at heart. Out at the rear, the Altis with its bulbous sticking out LED tail lamps are a stark contrast to the Civic’s pentagonal LEDs.

As far as looks go, it’s the Honda Civic which goes one up over the Toyota Corolla Altis. However if you prefer a more laid back design, then the Toyota Corolla Altis is the one to go for.

Interiors

The Toyota Corolla Altis in India comes with the typical wood finish that we have come to see from almost all the Toyotas in India. Actually speaking, the Toyota has so much wood panels in it that a small tree house can be built out of it. Its dash makes use of light as well as dark plastics overall. The steering wheel is more like the Hyundai Sonata Transform with its half wood and half leather combination. It is a multi function steering wheel. The Corolla Altis also boasts of optitron meter dials which look fabulous when lit up. But if its meter dials that we are talking about then the Civic’s hybrid like blue backlit meters take the cake. Infact many of us would have at one point or the other stared at the Honda Civic’s interiors when it would be stationary at a traffic signal. The Civic also boasts of a first class interior with the three spoke steering wheel which houses the various controls. However to get into the Civic, you note that you have to crouch lower than that in the Corolla Altis. Both the Honda Civic and the Toyota Corolla offer ample of features like climate control, monochromatic and also electronically retractable mirrors. However the Toyota pips the Civic as far as features list goes. Out at the rear, the Civic has a flat squab which ensures that sitting three along isn’t a problem however when the Corolla comes into the equation, it ensures that not much is wasted as far as passenger comfort is concerned. You sit a bit higher in the Toyota and have a better under thigh support in this car as compared with the Civic. Boot space of 475 liters may not be great in the Altis however the Civic also has the same dimensions to its boot space and hence one cannot be said to be better than the other in this regard.

As far as the interiors go, the more funky one is the Honda Civic while the better one is the Toyota Corolla Altis as far as build quality goes. Moreover, the Altis feels a bit better built than its Japanese rival, the Honda Civic.

Handling and ride quality

The Honda Civic is setup on the stiffer side than the Toyota Corolla Altis. This manifests in the fact that the Civic goes quicker around corners and can carry far more better speeds at the exit points. The Honda Civic in India however suffers from the time honored Honda problem of a suspension which bottoms out. Load the Civic fully and its suspension would bottom out and it would seems like that the car is actually just balanced on its wheels and there is no suspension travel left. Infact the Civic harboring on its sporty intentions has got a much lower ground clearance than any other car in India, forget the Corolla Altis. The ride quality in the meanwhile is great in a straight line however once the bumps come in, the Civic would let you know of each and every bump that came its way. Sitting closer to the ground has its own perils as far as the ride quality is concerned and the Civic’s pretensions of being a sporty car means it sacrifices the ride quality at the altar of handling. The Civic’s steering wheel is a small unit and is a delight to use. However the lack of much sound deadening materials under the hood means that the Civic is quite a noisy car at full clip. As for the Toyota Corolla Altis in India, ride quality was always its forte. Its neither that stiffly sprung and nor is it overtly soft. The chassis however doesn’t seem to be able to cope up with the mass that is there. It is more than willing to throw its occupants out of the windows, at the first sight of a corner. The steering wheel is an electronic unit and like all the electronic ones, this one also lacks the feel. It is very good to hold and while the Civic’s one may transmit some vibes via the steering wheel, the Corolla’s doesn’t. Ride quality, which is the Altis’s trump card remains so. It doesn’t transmit any bumps into the cabin and moreover NVH also has been nicely damped however while the Civic’s motor doesn’t seem to be creating a racket under the hood, the Corolla’s, if you keep the windows open, loses its composure. Everywhere in the world, Toyota cars are known for their ride quality rather than outright handling. So going fast around a corner in a Toyota is a big no-no. The best way to enjoy a Corolla is to take it on a long straight road and the Toyota would delight one with its mile munching and relaxed attitude. The Civic on the other hand has got an engine and suspension combination which begs the driver to cane it from time to time. It is more comfortable on a race track than on the normal roads.

The Toyota Corolla on this one due to its superior suspension setup. It also ensures that the passengers are isolated from the roads and are wrapped around in the luxury home that it is aimed to be. The Civic delights with its sportiness however in the daily grind, its more likely to scrape its underbelly with speed breakers.

Engine, performance and fuel efficiency

The Corolla has been soldering on for ages with its 1.8 liter motor for India. Elsewhere, it also gets a 2.0 liter engine which makes about 150 Bhp of power. But then, we Indians always end up getting a raw deal. This 1.8 liter engine is the same one as the one on the previous generation Corolla. It has got 16 valves to boot for plus VVT and a good 132 Ps on tap. The torque figure reads as 170 Nm. A 5 speed manual transmission is what helps the Corolla driver with his gear shifting duties. For the Civic, it is a new 1.8 liter engine (new because the Civic is the only Honda car with this 1.8 liter engine in India while the Corolla has been living off its heritage from the past). This engine has Honda’s fabled I-Vtec for company. Mated to a 5 speed manual, this engine manages to produce 132 Ps of power, the same like the Corolla however with slightly more torque ratings at 172 Nm. The Civic is the faster car here with a 0-100 kmph timing of 11.3 seconds compared to the 11.8 seconds which the Corolla takes. The top speed stakes are also won by the Honda Civic with it reaching 186 kmph to the 180 kmph at which the Corolla tops out.

Both the cars here also carry automatic gearboxes. While the Civic gets a 5 speed auto with paddle shifts behind the steering wheel, the Altis makes do without paddle shifts and has only a 4 speed ECT transmission for duties. Out of the two, the Civic naturally feels more sporty to drive around due to the paddle shifters which imitate the F1 style of gear shifting. The Altis feels the more relaxed of the two out here in the mile munching duties. The Honda Civic has an excellent brake feel however the brake bite in the Corolla Altis is better since it has bigger discs than the Civic. Both the cars come kitted with EBD and ABS as their braking aids. As far as safety is concerned both the cars are equally equipped. Dual front air bags, collapsible steering columns and also adjustable seat belts ensure that the occupants are safe, were a collision to happen. Both have reputed names for their body construction. While Honda chose the moniker as G-CON, Toyota uses it as GOA. Both essentially mean the same that the chassis is rigid and much of the aftershocks from a collision are transferred or distributed evenly throughout the structure of the car.

As far as fuel efficiency is concerned, it is the Altis with a remapped ECU and engine tuning which manages to edge out the ever efficient Honda engine. The Corolla Altis petrol model returns an overall fuel efficiency of 14.4 kmpl to the Honda’s 13.3 kmpl. Noteworthy is the Altis’s fuel efficiency of 19.6 kmpl on the highway. The Honda could just manage 17.4 kmpl.

Verdict

First of all, if you are in the market looking out for any of these two sedans, then bear in mind that both are due for a replacement. The frenzied activity from Toyota ensures that it would be the first one coming out with a replacement. Many spy shots of the 2011 Toyota Corolla Altis in India have come up on the web and there was a recent picture with the car almost shown without any tapes all over it. Most likely the car would be launched by about June or July 2011. As for the winner of this bout, first the pros and cons. The Honda Civic is the best buy right now coz the next generation one is not so good looking and seems much like a grown up Honda City. Moreover, as with all the Honda products, it comes with a heft price tag, as can be seen from the US market. The current model has got space, pace, handling and nice interiors. Not to forget, the killer looks and the Honda badge. For its cons, it has got a low ground clearance and that means looking out more for all those speed breakers and stuff. In India, there are more speed breakers than roads themselves. Moreover the Honda has a problem with its ride quality and typically the Indian roads demand better ride quality than outright handling. As for the Toyota Corolla Altis, it has got space, nice interiors, cosseting ride quality and also fuel efficiency going its way. However the things to be discarded are the not so good handling and also grown up looks. However when it comes to the Toyota badge, few things come as close. This battle is more about the badge and which one is more prestigious Honda or Toyota. Well, this would be the right time to bargain for heavy discounts on the 2010 Altis model as the new one is due in a few months time. That is if you can live with the thought that you are getting an older model. New things to watch out for the 2011 model are a better tuned engine for more power, more goodies in the interiors and also spruced up looks. There would also be an all new transmission coming up. As for the Civic, apart from its looks, not much would change in the interiors or the power ratings.

Now, the decider, the price. The Toyota Corolla Altis price in India starts from Rs 1,032,387 lakhs whereas the diesel top end model retails at Rs 14.13 lakhs. For the Honda Civic price in India, the tip is Rs 12.77 lakhs and goes upto Rs 15.19 lakhs. Enough of a difference to settle down for the Toyota top end diesel rather than go for the Honda. Well, the Civic doesn’t have a diesel engine and wouldn’t have one in the near future but it does boast of a sunroof which the Altis doesn’t offer. Our pick for the day is the comfortable Altis over the Civic.

Toyota Corolla Altis vs Chevrolet Cruze vs Skoda Laura – the oil war

Oil burners are the need of the hour with mostly every manufacturer turning towards their R&D team for bringing in more and more of oil burners. Some even borrow from their strategic alliances. By this, we mean the Tata Fiat coalition, the Suzuki-Fiat coalition and so on. Every manufacturer worth its salt has got a oil burner in their lineup except Honda. Honda says that their high profile diesel engines wouldn’t suit the Indian fuel. Upon reading this, I am sure many of you would have a string of expletives lined up. Even we think on the same lines. But then this article isn’t about Honda’s business acumen. Its more about crowning the top pick in the D segment diesel car lineup. Except Honda, which we haven’t included in this test, all the other manufacturers have brought in their diesel engines. Public poll says that the Chevrolet Cruze in India with its new look interiors is a huge hit amongst the D segment flashy buyers. The Toyota Corolla Altis in India is for those looking for a reliable way of motoring while the Skoda Laura in India is not more of a showman but its about being a wolf in sheep’s clothing. We have pitted the three against each other here and a winner would certainly be crowned. Read on if you want to know more.

Looks

In the looks department, there is no rivaling the butch and in your face styling of the Cruze. If you want to get second glances every time you take out your car for a spin, then it’s the Chevrolet Cruze for you. Concept car designing along with bold Chevy bowtie on the grille means that this car warrants and screams for attention. 16 inch tyres along with one of the better looking OEM alloy wheel design ensure that it doesn’t lose any ground from the side profile as well. The rear with that chunky tail pipe also looks cool. The Corolla Altis, in its old avatar doesn’t even used to warrant a second glance but with the new look for the diesel, it is gaining more fans than earlier. The front nose job has been done up wonderfully and is similar to the one found internationally on this car. All the three cars here come with outside rearview mirror indicators. The Laura in the meanwhile can be highly confused for the Superb as the family face is getting a bit tacky. Even though this is the case, move to the back of the  car and it seems balanced with the front end. While the Cruze is a hunk with beefed up muscles, the Corolla is much more of a wannabe while the Laura is the middle aged man who has seen it all before.

Our pick on the looks front would be the Chevrolet Cruze followed by the Toyota Corolla Altis and then the Skoda Laura.

Interiors

The new Cruze with the jet black interiors does look a class apart than the rest here. The all black interiors coupled with the high waistline however does make this car look seem a bit claustrophobic. There is however no dearth of gadgets to play around with. There is the reverse camera, push button start, climate control with air sensing mode, airplane like cockpit, electrically adjustable front seats, auto dimming ORVMs and many more. The Chevrolet Cruze in India accommodates drivers of most sizes and shapes. Finding an ideal driving position isn’t  a problem in it. The Toyota Corolla Altis in the meanwhile features gray color interiors with a mix of wooden trim for the central console. Why, even the steering wheel is half wood and half covered by leather. The Corolla Altis diesel is also fully loaded with 6 speaker and CD audio system which is USB as also MP3 compatible, climate control, steering mounted controls, HID head lamps with an auto function and also washer for them. Space in the Corolla is fantastic and a tad better than that of the Cruze which makes one feel, as we discussed earlier, claustrophobic. Now the Skoda Laura boasts of the best interiors in this class. It has got anti pinch power windows, rear parking sensors, twin chillers and a rear privacy screen. However compared to the other two, the Laura is short on features with the main exclusion being that of steering mounted controls. It is a wee bit more spacious than the Cruze in the rear however the backrest is angled more keeping in mind the human contours. The low hugging stance of the Cruze makes ingress egress a bit of a problem which is slightly better in the Corolla followed by the Laura. Boot space however is best in the Laura at 560 liters while the Altis and Cruze follow it with space of 475 and 450 liters respectively. All the cars here come with 60:40 split rear seats which can accommodate a bit more of luggage, should the need arise.

The Toyota Corolla followed by the Skoda Laura and then the Chevy Cruze.

Handling and ride quality

The Toyota Corolla Altis in India is one car which actually surprises with its ride quality. Its ride quality is next to perfection and being a softly sprung car means that it absorbs bumps very effectively. It is relatively unfazed by even the small intrusions which might cause other sedans to lose their composure. However the steering wheel is utterly light and is almost lifeless like that in the Camry. Not only does the Corolla hate to be hustled in a corner, it even shows it with lots of body roll. Not an enthusiastic car though and is more for the chauffer driven rather than the enthusiast. Enthusiastic drivers would want to take a look at the Chevrolet Cruze in India. It delights with its tight body configuration which ensures that the car doesn’t roll much when cornered hard. However the lifeless steering wheel does spoil the party. The stiff suspension however doesn’t take its toll on one’s spine. Infact fully loaded, the Cruze provides for a nice ride quality. The Laura earlier on, was widely criticized for its stiff suspension but Skoda Auto India have done well to soften it a bit and now the Laura can be called as one of the best cars in this segment as far as the ride and handling characteristics go. Its steering wheel is also well balanced and has lots of feedback to deliver. The ride quality has noticeably increased from that of the earlier one.  NVH is lowest on the Laura followed by the Cruze and then the Corolla Altis, though there isn’t much of a difference and the sporty roar that the Cruze brings along with it once the turbo is on full song is something which enthusiasts would welcome with open arms.

It would be the Skoda Laura with its all round capabilities followed by the Cruze and then the Corolla.

Engine, performance and fuel efficiency

The engine under the hood of the Skoda Laura in India is a 2.0 liter common rail diesel one which pumps 110 Bhp at 4200 rpm and is mated with a 5 speed manual transmission. There is a 140 Bhp version of this diesel available however that is available only with a DSG transmission and since we are talking about manual transmissions here, we have omitted it from this comparo. This engine shoots from 0-100 kmph in only 12.7 seconds while seeing a top speed of 187 kmph. This engine suffers from turbo lag but not as much as the one in the Cruze. However the gearing of this car overcomes the turbo lag in the city and makes driving it a pleasurable experience. The gearshift action is also very slick. The engine in the Cruze is the most powerful in this lot. The 2.0 liter engine makes 148 Bhp of power at 4000 rpm while the peak torque of 327 Nm comes in at a high 2600 rpm. Driving the Cruze around in town means changing gears frequently. Moreover the power delivery isn’t as linear but once the turbo is on full song, the car gives a shove in the back with its acceleration. 0-100 kmph is covered in only 9.2 seconds. That makes it blistering fast. The top speed is a cool 202 kmph. If one is ready to forget the turbo lag, then this car should be the one for hardcore enthusiasts. While the engine in the Toyota Corolla Altis in India is one of the smallest in this comparison, it is one excellent performer. This engine makes 87 Bhp of power at 3800 rpm while the 205 Nm of torque comes in as low as 1800 rpm. The 6 speed gearbox is a perfect ally for this engine as it is precise and slots into its gate perfectly, even if the throws are a bit long. The 0-100 kmph figure is more in the ballpark of diesel hatchbacks which have not so potent diesel engines. The 0-100 kmph figure would read as 14.7 seconds and the top speed is also 168 kmph. The engine however is butter smooth in its operation. There is no perceptible turbo lag in the city and the engine is one drivable unit. It goes about its work efficiently and without much fuss.

What is the use of all this power if it cannot be reigned in? To that very effect, all the cars in this comparison come with 4 wheel disc brakes coupled with ABS, EBD and ESP. Stopping power is almost equal however the most undramatic stopping prowess is possessed by the Chevrolet Cruze. The Toyota Corolla on the other hand has a long brake pedal travel which takes some time getting used to. The Laura on the other hand is also a calm and composed machine as far as braking stakes go but its brakes take a wee bit longer than those in the Cruze. Safety aspect is also similar in all the three cars here with the only sore point that the Corolla Altis doesn’t come with airbags in its base version. Simply not accepted from the world’s largest car manufacturer, Toyota.

As far as fuel efficiency is concerned, the Chevrolet Cruze in India delivers an overall mileage of 12.7 kmpl. The Skoda Laura just precedes it with an overall mileage figure of 13.3 kmpl while the Toyota Corolla Altis in India is the star of the lot returning an overall mileage of 17.7 kmpl. 17.7 kmpl overall is hatchback territory and something which is really stupendous of a 1245 kg kerb weight car. All the credit goes to the smaller capacity engine and the overall light weight of this car.

Though it may sound clichéd, it is the Toyota Corolla’s engine which we would prefer for the utter stress free nature that it goes about its work. Second spot is shared by the Cruze and the Laura. The Toyota is also the most fuel efficient of the lot.

Verdict

The Toyota Corolla Altis in India had taken a long time in its coming however as and when it did, it directly went heads on with the segment leader, the Skoda Laura. The Skoda Laura has been presiding over this segment for quite a long time however it was high time that it was overthrown from its perch. Okay, so to put hit the nail right on the head, the Chevrolet Cruze in India would appeal to those looking at adding some flash in their daily lives while getting diesel economy from their car. It is also the most powerful of this lot and is a hoot to drive. It is reasonably spacious and well equipped. It however isn’t a driver’s car primarily due to its vague steering. The Skoda Laura in India with its wide array of engine and transmission options is an alluring buy. It has got the space, pace and fuel economy. However for its price, it offers far less equipment than the other two cars here. Moreover, Skoda’s after sales service has taken quite a hit and Skoda need to rectify it immediately. The Toyota Corolla Altis however provides for acres of space for the chauffer driven as also for the chauffer. It has loads of equipment on offer. The engine may be befitting hatches but it has an ease of driving and also is very fuel efficient. Yes, its not a driver’s car but then the middle aged person would never want to corner at speeds of 100 plus. It provides that all important ride quality and that is what matters the most. It also has the Toyota badge on its nose, something which the others in this comparison simply cannot match. Coming down to the pricing, the Chevrolet Cruze price in India starts from Rs 11.78 lakhs and ends at 13.41 lakhs. It gets an automatic transmission option as well. The Skoda Laura price in India starts from Rs 11.44 lakhs and ends at Rs 15.8 lakhs. An excellent twin clutch DSG is offered as an option. The Toyota Corolla Altis price in India is from Rs 10.88 lakhs to 13.76 lakhs. All these prices are ex-show room, Mumbai.

Our top pick is the Toyota Corolla Altis diesel followed by the Skoda Laura and then the Chevrolet Cruze.

Toyota Corolla Altis in India Review

')">The world’s largest selling car which has crossed more than 37 million units worldwide has been in India since 2002. It has gone through three generations of changes and now the newest form is the Toyota Corolla Altis in India. Interestingly, the Altis moniker was used in Middle East and some other places far before it was even thought of in India. I have always been a fan of the Toyota Corolla for its solid interiors and reliability quotient. But then the new Altis especially with the diesel variant has been doing the rounds lately. It is estimated that this same engine would be under the hood of the Toyota Etios sedan later on this year. So, I did the same thing which I did 5 years back and that is call up Millenium Toyota and fix and appointment with them for a test drive. Back then, I was a gawky teenager who could barely hold the steering wheel properly but then it was project work that I was doing for Maruti. Now, when I reached the showroom, I told them the purpose of the visit. The best part is that they allowed us that car for a review and not for a test drive. Good people at Toyota, just like the car. Check on Road Price

Looks

The Toyota Corolla Altis in India is just an evolution of the previous car and not a revolution. Both the petrol and the diesel variants look different from each other and that, actually is a good move by Toyota Kirloskar Motors. This would help distinguish the car from the other cars which have the same look for their petrol as well as diesel variants except for the diesel badging at the rear. The diesel variant which we have on block here gets a honeycomb grille with the tear shaped head lamps flanking them. The air dam is subtly small but then it is a clear cut design. This design formula can also be seen in the Camry and also the new Etios sedan. By the way, the head lights are one of the best in the business. They are HID kits and something which we all fancy, white light. The fog lamps in contrast are small units like a rupee coin. The shut lines however seemed a bit irregular compared to the petrol variant.

The 195/65 R15 are common to both the diesel as well as petrol variants. This means that this car has a planted stance. They perfectly fill the wheel arches well. There is a single quarter glass treatment at the rear window. The door handles are also chrome laced ones. The rear profile shows up the split tail lamps, which have a similar shape like the front ones. The rear hatch handle is also chrome. Integrated into the bumpers are two round reflectors. The inverted tail pipe is a common thing for both the petrol and diesel variants.

Interiors

The interiors haven’t changed much or rather they haven’t changed at all from the petrol variant. The optitron meters still held on to my attention. The half wood, half leather steering wheel feels good to hold but I know that from previous experience that I wouldn’t be saying the same thing about its application. It however boasts of audio controls as well as cruise controls. The two tone dash along with wood inserts have a feel good factor attached to them. Infact, I loved those beige seats in the Toyota Corolla Altis in India that I feel that they are way too superior to the ones found in the competition namely the Chevrolet Optra that I drove recently. The very fact that it is 8 way adjustable adds to the feel good factor. Those rectangular AC vents also do a good job of directing air flow in the right direction.

The glove box is also huge and it is a two stage one. The in dash 6 CD changer system along with USB and AUX input makes it one for the geeks. The audio output from the 6 speakers also is satisfying if not exceeding expectations. The auto climate control also does a good job of cooling the cabin within no time. The rear seats are also comfortable since most of the times, this car would be chauffer driven and Toyota Kirloskar Motors have paid special attention to this aspect. The rear passengers are treated to a flat floor and their own aircon controls. One of the features which not many premium segment cars offer is a rear blind for the rear passengers. However the Toyota Corolla Altis does boast of this feature. The boot space is also good at 475 liter and this coupled with the 60:40 split seats allow carrying lots of luggage with ease. The boot is also lit by a single bulb thus making loading chores easy.

Handling and ride quality

Well, the new Toyota Corolla Altis in India in its diesel avatar gets a new electronic power steering. The specialty of this power steering is that it comes into action or rather uses power only when steering force is required. It is said to be environment friendly as well since it doesn’t have hydraulic fluid in it. Well, my initial skepticism about the steering was correct since it looks good and is chunky to hold but then lifeless in feel. So in feel, it hasn’t been changed much than its petrol sibling. It is light at parking speeds but then becomes lifeless once the speeds rise. But then having a heavy diesel motor on the front wheels to steer does make a difference. Since this car is been billed as a chauffer driven one, ride quality is something which the engineers at Toyota Kirloskar Motors have put in efforts at. L-arm MacPherson strut for the front suspension and new torsion beam at the rear does help in providing a pliant ride quality for most of the terrain. High speed stability however is a bit disconcerting though. The car has a bit of tendency to pitch and bob and sometimes gets affected by crosswinds as well.

Handling is strictly okay with the car displaying an aversion to turns at high speeds. It prefers to do its work at sedate speeds. It is easy to park as well with the reverse parking sensors assisting one visually and audibly as well. The road noise is something which the occupants are nicely cocooned from. However if you are shifting loyalties from a petrol engine to the diesel one, you would definitely notice the faint diesel clatter.

Engine, performance and fuel efficiency

The Toyota Corolla Altis in India is offered with two engines. The one in question which I had for the review was the diesel one. It is a 1.4 liter unit which is a common rail unit(don’t know of anyone who doesn’t make one nowadays) pumping out 88 Bhp @ 3800 rpm whereas the torque spread is 205 Nm @ 1800 rpm. Disappointing as you may point out for such a heavy sedan. But then what matters more is the torque spread which is available from as low as 1800 rpm. This is mated with a 6 speed manual transmission which has been exclusively made for the the diesel power plant. It does the 0-100 kmph run in only 14.7 seconds and crosses the 158 kmph top speed easily. The petrol on the other hand is a familiar unit which has been doing duties since 2002 in India. It is the 1794cc , 16 Valve, 4 cylinder, VVT-i  DOHC unit which pumps out 132 Ps of peak power at 6000 rpm whereas the peak torque generated is 170 Nm @ 4200 rpm. This engine is combined with a 4 speed manual or 4 speed auto transmission. The 0-100 kmph mark is achieved only in 11.4 seconds by the manual transmission whereas the auto one does it in 12.5 seconds. The top speed for both however is 177 kmph.

Brakes are front ventilated discs and rear solid discs. Toyota Kirloskar Motors have kitted the diesel variant well with ABS, EBD and also Brake Assist. These features retard the motion of the car well within safety limits. Safety is tended by the GOA body, multiple air bags and seat belts with pretensioners.

Fuel efficiency is the best part of the Toyota Corolla Altis diesel. It did manage to give a realistic 16.1 kmpl in the city whereas the highway figure was 21.3 kmpl. This has got to be the most fuel efficient diesel sedan in its category and one below. The petrol on the other hand gives a fuel efficiency of 11.3 kmpl in city and 15.1 kmpl on the highway. Toyota have also launched a CNG version so expect it to better the petrol’s mileage by 30%.

Verdict

Toyota Kirloskar Motors have been always late in introducing their quality products into the Indian market but as and when they are launched, the models are an instant hit. Classic example can be taken of the Toyota Fortuner in India. With the Toyota Corolla Altis in India in its diesel avatar, the company have released a cat amongst the so-called pigeons. It has got good looks on its side, ample interior space, is feature rich and best of all very fuel efficient. On top of it, it has got that Toyota badge and reliability. Its power output may not seem that good on paper but on the road, it is a real performer. The Toyota Corolla Altis price in India starts from Rs 12,02,300 for the base petrol and goes all the way to Rs 14,38,900 for the top of the line petrol with CNG option. All these prices are ex-show room, Mumbai.

Specification Of Toyota Corolla Altis Diesel D4DGL

Engine details: 1364cc, D-4D engine
Maximum Power: 88 Bhp at 3800rpm
Maximum Torque: 205Nm @ 1800 rpm
No. of Cylinders: 4
Valves Per Cylinder: 4
Turbo Charger: Yes
Transmission details: Six Speed Manual
Front Suspension: MacPherson strut
Rear Suspension: Torsion Beam
Steering details: Electronic Power assisted with Tilt & Telescopic functions
Turning Radius: 5.3 Meters
Front Brake Type: Ventilated Discs
Rear Brake Type: Solid Discs
Mileage-City (kmpl): 16.1
Mileage-Highway (kmpl): 21.3
Fuel Type: Diesel
Emission Norm Compliance: Bharat Stage IV
Tyre Size: 195/65 R15
Tyre Type: Tubeless Radials

New Toyota Corolla Altis in India, a facelift therapy

Almost everybody is aware about the partnership venture between Toyota of Japan and Kirloskar Company of India. Toyota Kirloskar always manages to be in the news. Now it seems that are they are planning to add a new feather to their hat with the ‘facelift of the all new Toyota Corolla Alits’. Wondering how do we know about it? So just for your information, it our sheer duty as well as pleasure to keep you updated and bring you the news from all the corners of India. Back on the track, it seems Toyota Corolla Altis is touring all the corners of India, though not really. It looks like Toyota Motors wants to test the capability of the car before its official launch or should I say before it is officially offered in front of the customers. Didn’t I tell you, Toyota always manages to be in the news?

So here’s a “peek a boo” at what this car looks like. To start with the car seems to have been fitted with a new wider grille but the headlights and the tail lights are almost similar to the previous model of this car. I was wondering from where does this car gets the aggressive looks and trust me very soon I found out that it is because of the wider chin. But besides these minute differences, I couldn’t see any other difference, at least not any major difference. I don’t expect for any mechanical changes in the car. Since, Toyota seems to be very happy with the insides of the previous model of this car, we don’t expect any changes inside either. However there’s a surprise waiting for you. There is a rumour that besides those two 1.4 liter diesel and the 1.8 liter petrol engines, Toyota will also launch this car with a brand new 1.6 litre petrol engine with 120 Bhp on tap. Enough to have it been priced competitively and also to give some sleepless nights to the Honda City. Not a bad deal, isn’t it?

Now to see all this yourself you have only three options. One, wait for couple of months till the official unveiling of this car. Two, keep your eyes open, there might be a possibility that it might be zooming right in front of you or third which I think is the best option, keep a tab on our website and we might bring you more insights of this ‘too shy to come out car’.