NEWS: The 2019 Corolla will come in manual and hatchback

A year ago Toyota got our hopes up for a hot Yaris GRMN, but Toyota cruelly dashed them by not offering it in America. I cried myself to sleep for days while listening to Enya alone in my room. As Americans that loves hatchbacks, we felt completely abandoned. But then, just as I was ready to reenter society as a broken man, Toyota comes back with arms open wide.

Toyota is bringing back the Corolla hatch, something that hasn’t been offered since the Corolla FX raised its last tailgate in 1988. The new car is the same as the next-generation European-market Toyota Auris, which you may remember as the Toyota/Scion iM. For the newest generation, they’re dropping the iM nameplate and calling it simply the Corolla Hatchback. Best of all, the Big T is also including a 6-speed manual, automatic rev matching, and an independent rear suspension.

Based on Toyota’s TNGA global architecture, the car will have a substantially stiffer chassis. This is good news because the the modular platform has greatly improved the Camry and the Prius, while the crossover stablemate, Toyota CH-R, is the closest thing to a compact crossover that I could actually like. While the others aren’t exactly firestarters, the Corolla sounds like it’s going to be somewhat fun to drive and that feels really good to say.

Toyota has been doing great things trying to shed their “living in purgatory” image they’ve built since their sports car genocide of the early 2000s. Akio Toyoda is continuing on his crusade to restore the soul of Toyota, and while the halo cars get all the press, it appears that Toyota has not forgotten about the everyman.

It’s surprising that Toyota even attempts to sate the desires of middle-class car enthusiasts, because not only is it difficult with CAFE fuel economy standards, but, frankly, they don’t need to. Toyota would do just fine being like everyone else making appliances that drive like a moist refrigerator box.

Toyota’s revival hasn’t been perfect, and we know everyone’s lamenting the Supra will be an automatic-only car, but let’s rejoice that the new Corolla will still retain a proper transmission. The shift-it-yourself, three-pedal, kill-it-at-a-stoplight manual transmission. They’re not just using the manual in the base model either — you can get it across the range, which is something other marques could learn from. The transmission will come with automatic rev matching, too, and as much as I love heel-and-toeing, computerized throttle blips make driving in anger much easier. There is also a CVT but we really couldn’t care less about that.

Power numbers haven’t been disclosed, but the M20A-FKS engine looks promising. Replacing the outgoing 1.8-liter four, it grows to a 2.0 liters employing an 80.5 x 97.6 bore-to-stroke ratio and dual VVT-i. While I would have preferred a square or over-square block, I’ll take what I can get. What’s interesting about the engine is Toyota says that they’ve integrated three under piston oil jets per cylinder, enlarged the water jacket and a given it a high 13:1 compression ratio. Assuming the cylinder walls aren’t too thin, this engine sounds like it has some additional potential to be unleashed.

The manual transmission and bigger engine are headline grabbers, but it’s important to mention the independent rear suspension. Since the demise of the eight-gen E110, the Corolla has used rear beam axles, which, while cost effective and good enough for Ethel to get her groceries in, isn’t nearly as suited to spirited driving as a good IRS setup.

The new IRS on the Corolla Hatchback is a multi-link setup akin to that of Corollas and Civics of the late 80s and 1990s. The front suspension uses the more common MacPherson struts, but Toyota says the geometry is optimized for drivers.

This should be a platform that is ripe for aftermarket parts development. While we don’t expect the same magic created by Hondas of the 90s, we’re looking forward to a fun FWD hatch that isn’t the size of an Acura TL, utilizes an NA engine, and isn’t dreadfully unreliable. It’ll be interesting to see to how the Japanese compact scene evolves in the next five years. Toyota’s given us a new Corolla hatch. Can we make it hot?

Some images courtesy of Toyota.

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20 Responses to NEWS: The 2019 Corolla will come in manual and hatchback

  1. Conan Dowler says:

    Struck by how much that looks like the groundbreaking Toyota WiLL VS from 2001…or is it just me?

  2. Nigel says:

    That is very good news !!

  3. BlitzPig says:

    “Can we make it hot?”

    Why should we have to?

    Will this new Toyota come with “SI” level suspension tuning from the factory? If not, why not? How much BHP will it’s NA 2L four produce? How much does it weigh? Just how available with the manual actually be?

    Pardon my skepticism, but for too long Toyota has shown that they don’t care about driver oriented cars in the North American market, and all the talk from Mr. Toyoda has yet to conjure up a successful driver’s car from Toyota, or an American dealer network whose understanding of “driver’s cars” goes anything beyond adding tape stripes and fake trunk wings to a Camry.

    I hope this thing works out for us, but frankly, until proven otherwise, I’m expecting another damp refrigerator box, with “Twin Cam VVT-i” decals stuck on the sides of it.

    • Yuri says:

      “and all the talk from Mr. Toyoda has yet to conjure up a successful driver’s car from Toyota”


      • BlitzPig says:

        Complete marketing failure.

        Too expensive for what it was, wrong engine, dealers who still don’t understand it.

        I might have ordered one if it had a Toyota engine, and been priced a bit more realistically, and if the dealers didn’t cram ever single option on them when they ordered one for stock.

        • Those are all good points, unfortunately dealers are independent of the auto manufacturers and trying to teach sales people what makes an 86 cool is like trying to teach every bicycle enthusiast the appeal of motorsport.

          That’s not to say salespeople are worthless rather, they’re more representative of the public than of the car community. To most, a car is merely a widget.

          • Jayrdee says:

            Can confirm. I work in parts at a Toyota dealer and had a sales guy ask me “What does the ’86 even stand for?”, as he placed an order for new floormats to give to a customer Lol.

            I drive an AE86 too.

        • Mark Newton-John says:

          Toyota designed the 86 with the Subaru motor to lower center of gravity to make it a better driver’s car. So forget turbocharging, a six, or a Toyota inline engine.
          If it makes you feel better, the engine is Toyota designated 4U, after the previous U and 2U flat motors.

    • Ben Hsu says:

      Since Toyoda became president we’ve had the 86, LFA, several naturally aspirated V8 Lexuses including two sport coupes (RC and LC), and potentially a new Supra. Plus all the racing programs and the GRMN Yaris (though not available in the US). I’d say that’s not bad.

  4. r100guy says:

    George Lucas must be proud! Forty one years after the filming of Star Wars, the imperial storm trooper look lives on as Toyota’s current design language, very retro! I guess Toyota would rather made droids than cars. May the force be with you!

  5. Mark Newton-John says:

    M20 motor? So is this going to be the ME192 Corolla for North America?

  6. Jayrdee says:

    This would look mean on coilovers with some fat, bronze TE37v wheels.

  7. Mark Newton-John says:

    Need to make a competitor to the Ford RS, ST models. Hence GRMN? TRD Pro? Bring back the Levin trim?

  8. Frank says:

    Man! That’s ugly!

    It is my type of car. I’d like to have seen a picture of the back with the hatch opened. Could I sleep in the back of it as comfortably as I could sleep in the back of my 1983 Celica GT hatchback? I’d like to have a car that I would get 40+ mpg and I could easily sleep in. The Celica wouldn’t get 40 mpg but I could nurse 35+ mpg out of it regularly and I slept comfortably in it many times.

  9. ahja says:

    That’s awesome. I’d really like a 2-door variant, but I can see this being an actual contender for me if my fortunes increase and I find myself looking to buy a brand new car, something I’ve never yet done. And I think torquey 6-speed hatchbacks are among the most enjoyable and practical cars there can be. But would the US _really_ get this Euro-style cars?

    • nlpnt says:

      That depends – do you mean “get” as in understand? If you mean, will the US get it as in will it be available here that’s a definite yes, it’s being shown at NYIAS for that very reason.

  10. The Bachelor says:

    It comes with a decent suspension (unlike the Civic) and a stick.

    Ask for anything more…and your wife is picking the car.

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