First drive impressions of 2014 Corolla Altis

By THOMAS HUONG | 6 February 2014


As a long time favourite family car, the new Toyota Corolla Altis has been reworked and now offers better fuel economy as well as more cabin room, comfort and driving agility compared with its predecessor.

Imported from Thailand, there are three Altis variants with on-the-road prices in Peninsular Malaysia tagged at RM114,000 for the1.8E, RM123,000 (2.0G) and RM136,000 (2.0V).

UMW Toyota Motor provides a three-year or 100,000km (whichever comes first) warranty.

The 11th-generation Altis has grown slightly longer and wider, with its wheelbase increased markedly by 100mm to 2,700mm.

Its 470L boot space can accommodate four golf bags.

The powertrains remain the same from the previous model line-up, featuring the familiar 1.8- and 2.0-L four-cylinder in-line DOHC engines with dual VVT-i (variable valve timing - intelligent) from the ZR engine family, that are mated to a CVT (continuous variable transmission) with seven-speed sports sequential shift.


Although using carried-over powertrain systems, Toyota Motor Corp chief engineer Shinichi Yasui contends that the new model’s performance feel and fuel-efficiency have been improved.

According to Yasui, fuel economy has improved by up to 7% and 3% for the 1.8 and 2.0-L variants respectively.

“Despite the larger size, the kerb weight of the Altis (for all variants) is similar to its predecessor,” he said.

Yasui pointed out that the new Altis uses more high-tensile steel which is lighter but stronger, and has better aerodynamics while the CVT was tweaked for a more responsive and sporty driving feel.

“We also improved the acceleration response,” said Yasui.

Concerning the design and engineering approach for the new Altis, Yasui said it adopted the concept of Waku Doki – the Japanese expression for “pleasant anticipation and adrenaline excitement”.

Its frontal styling uses Toyota’s “Keen Look” design, which integrates the front radiator grille and headlamps, for a flowing-dynamic look and sharper-looking nose.


For higher body rigidity, which affects handling and ride comfort, Toyota engineers added rear reinforcement gussets to the rear floor panel.

To lower noise, vibration and harshness (NVH), the new Altis has a acoustic glass windscreen to reduce wind noise and improved positioning of insulating materials.

Features and options

While the top-grade Altis 2.0V has a fair bit of extra cabin comforts and safety features, the more affordable variants are also quite decently equipped.

Standard features for the 1.8E and 2.0G variants include 16-inch wheels, halogen headlamps, LED rear lamps, black fabric seats as well as front and rear parking sensors.

Only the 2.0L variants have reverse cameras.

All variants have six-speaker audio systems, but only the 2.0L variants get a 2-DIN head unit DVD player with 7-inch touch screen, tuner, MP3, AUX-jack, USB, SD card slot, Bluetooth, smartphone link and voice recognition.

The 1.8L variant comes with a 2-DIN head unit CD player with tuner, MP3, AUX-jack, USB and Bluetooth.


Features that are exclusive for the 2.0V variant include smart entry and start system, 17-inch alloy wheels, LED projector headlamps with auto levelling and daytime running lights, combi leather seats, a driver’s eight-way power seat with lumbar support, as well as cruise control, VSC (vehicle stability control) and TRC (traction control).

UMW Toyota Motor also offers optional equipment such as a seven-airbag system and additional passenger seatbelt warning indicators for the 2.0V Altis only.

This optional safety package will raise the on-the-road price of the 2.0V Altis by RM3,900.

Another option is an in-car navigation system upgrade, priced at RM1,800 for the 2.0L variants.

Buyers of the 1.8E Altis can opt to have the same in-car infotainment set-up found in the 2.0L variants, complete with a navigation system for RM2,990.

There is also an optional aerokit consisting of front and rear bumper spoilers, side skirts and a trunk lid spoiler, which is tentatively priced at RM2,350.

Test drive to Semenyih

UMW Toyota Motor recently organised a media test drive of the new Altis from Shah Alam to Semenyih, Selangor and Mantin, Negri Sembilan.

It was a 200km drive via trunk roads and tolled highways, with a few stops to switch drivers.

The units provided were the 2.0V variant.

We like the car’s sleek and dynamic-looking exterior style, and there is a sporty feel to its black-themed cabin fitted with leather upholstery.

The new Altis has generous dimensions for a C-segment sedan, and as expected, we found ample rear shoulder and legroom.


Regarding ride quality, we felt that it provides a somewhat sportier drive when compared with its predecessor, but still has a high level of occupant comfort in typical Toyota tradition.

Any discomfort from rough surfaces and road bumps on trunk roads, were much softened by the car’s well-tuned suspension which has a front MacPherson strut and rear torsion beam set-up.

There was ample power on tap for quick highway sprints and overtaking manoeuvres, with three adult occupants in the car.

Rolling on 215/45 R17 Michelin Pilot Sport 3 tyres, our test drive unit did not have razor sharp handling, but it still performed with decent composure when we negotiated corners and bends on trunk roads in a spirited manner.

The new Altis design also aims to obtain best-in-class cabin quietness, and Toyota engineers had worked on improving aerodynamic efficiency which also lowers noise levels.

We think the company has succeeded, as wind, engine and road noise was quite muffled at highway speeds.

Based on our brief test drive, the new Altis comes across as a spacious, well-engineered sedan that has the stamp of the trademark Toyota consistency in making comfortable and practical family cars.