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2010 Toyota Corolla XRS Review

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Japan’s biggest vehicle manufacturer has no sports car in its immense model line-up. Gone are the Supras, Celicas and MR2s. If you want a truck, though, Toyota has that market segment very well covered.

The Corolla in XRS trim is a more dynamic and involving car.

What happened? Well, it seems that Toyota ‘americanized’ itself while it was aiming for the #1 title, surpassing the Big Three in sales, who incidentally, shouldn’t be called the Big Three anymore for a number of reasons.

So for now, Toyota has a couple of ‘sporty cars’ to keep performance enthusiasts happy. Make that not unhappy.

Underhood modesty
Clearly, the XRS variant of the Corolla won’t win any stoplight races compared with other sporty compact sedans such as the Civic Si, Sentra SE-R Spec V and Jetta GLI. With 158 horsepower on tap, courtesy of the Camry’s 2.4-litre inline-4, you’re not going to get a rush of adrenaline in this ride.

Okay, it’s not slow; 0 to 100 km/h is achieved in 8.2 seconds, which is respectable and on par with rivals such as the Lancer GTS, Mazda3 GT and new Forte SX. While not the slickest shifter we’ve tried, the 5-speed manual is an improvement over the previous-generation XRS’ notchy 6-speed tranny.

Fuel economy, despite boasting a large 4-cylinder engine, is pretty good; we’re observing an average of 9.1 L/100 km with a mix of city and highway driving. And the car runs on regular unleaded, which wasn’t the case with the old high-revving Corolla XRS I drove back in 2006.

The car’s sportier handling obviously makes it more willing to pick up the pace and drive more aggressively, as body roll is more controlled and the firmer suspension setup and strut tower brace make the XRS more confident. But don’t think the Corolla XRS will make you get up early on Sunday morning while everyone’s still sound asleep and tear up the countryside.

The 158 horsepower on tap is a courtesy of the Camry’s 2.4-litre inline-4.