Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) lent us the new Corolla Altis Hybrid. We got to test the car over the course of two days, one relaxed Sunday, and one hectic Monday. For context, the compact hybrid had to fulfill mall plus traffic crawling duties, and towards the end of our experience, we cruised up and down Tagaytay for lunch.
My current benchmark in fuel efficiency is my personal car with a 1.5L turbocharged engine. In the city, my car can manage 8.8 km/L with moderate traffic, and up to 17 km/L on the highway. My route to work every day is a 19-km crawl from the north of Quezon City, all the way to the AutoDeal office in Makati, with heavy traffic making my drive last at least an hour and thirty minutes long.
First, we managed 99.9 km/L, while on EV mode. This is expected, but the result was short-lived since the gasoline engine kicked in right after the batteries needed charging. Of course, this isn’t the real fuel economy figure that we’re reporting now – that and we didn’t use any fuel. We do have to note that starting the Corolla Altis up is a confusing experience, partly because only the electric motor will switch on, and not the gasoline engine. It’s so silent when it starts up that it could probably make for a good getaway vehicle or a car you can use to sneak out of the house at night.
Fuel economy figures in the city were staggering. In light to moderate traffic during its mall-crawling stint, it managed 16.4 km/L. It doubles my city-driving benchmark and matches my highway driving figure. Once traffic gets heavier, you can expect figures as low as 11 km/L, but that’s a two-hour stint with nothing but stop-and-go traffic on EDSA, C5, and Commonwealth Avenue.
Thanks to the electric motor, the Corolla Altis could accelerate out of a stop without revving the engine at all. On top of that, the motor responds extremely fast and acts as a golf kart, delivering instantaneous action whenever needed – perfect for stop-and-go traffic.
The frugal nature of the 1.8L Hybrid engine also translated onto the highway. Checking the gauges after a stint on SLEX revealed 27.3 km/L. Of note, we were five in the vehicle during this run. I was beside myself because personally, I’ve never seen figures this high after a long drive. We averaged 90 km/h and we also used the Radar Cruise Control that Toyota bundles with this compact hybrid.
Toyota’s hybrid system seamlessly alternates between the gas and electric engines even when accelerating. When tackling lower speeds, the electric motor takes charge, letting the gasoline engine rest. Even when flooring the accelerator, the engine kicks in, but the electric motor will still assist the engine to achieve faster speeds.
We sat down with Toyota for a little chat about the new Corolla Altis. They told us that the market was quite receptive to the new model’s arrival in the Philippines. Inquiries were being made left and right, and since it is such a popular model, many were quick to pull the trigger. With a huge fan base and following, driving around the new hybrid was also an experience because of a few honks and waves I received from fellow Altis drivers.
So there you have it, the car lived up to its hybrid name. Color me impressed because even the guy in charge of delivering the unit to me said, “boss ang tipid!”
To that, I reply: “Indeed it is, sir. Indeed it is.”
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