The Yaris is not the only Toyota to flaunt a distinctly European look. The new Corolla has very similar origins and demonstrates the same feeling, albeit in a rather more muted fashion. The reason is perfectly clear. This Segment C Toyota is intended for the global market and therefore needs to offer a wider choice of versions combined with more universally appealing looks.

Design work on the new Nissan began in 1997 when the Toyota management invited “competitive bids” from its design centres in Tokyo, Nagoya, Brussels and Calty (California). The winner was EPOC in Brussels whose proposal was handed over to Toyota’s ED2 design centre at Sophia Antipolis, near Nice, where the Director Wahei Hirai was assisted by a team of 20 designers from eight different countries.

The new Corolla is available in five different versions: 3 and 5-door, saloon, station wagon and the Verso MPV. Some of them will be distributed worldwide, others confined to particular markets.

“This was a Group-wide project”, explains Hirai in presenting the car. “Especially at the start, with inputs from all our studios, before it was prepared for industrial production by TMC Nagoya. We had to make each version different and we achieved that by using different C pillar configurations and playing around with the details on the bonnet and bumpers, radiator grille and headlights”.

Inside, Toyota has gone for quality and a cutting-edge look, giving this mid-market model a number of luxury elements and something of a Lexus feeling. “We wanted an innovative interior design”, admits Hirai. And we also wanted to slot in enough visibly quality elements to make our car stand out from the European Segment C crowd”.

The article continues in Auto & Design no. 130

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