Jump to content

Corolla 121 Long Term Ownership Review

alpha17

720 views

Corolla 121 can be introduced as one of the most popular cars in TYPICAL SRI LANKAN vehicle market. Even being aged closed to 20 years they still sell around 3 million.

So still most buyers are interested about this car, and I planned to share my 7 years of experience in this blog. I used a 2000 manufactured G Grade one which has a 1500cc engine.

What it really is?

Just a compact car designed for A to B transportation with good fuel economy and realiability.

Driving

So I’m going to start from how it is like to drive. When compared to the other cars in the same category the acceleration is really good for a 1.5L motor. The car is comparatively lighter than the 110 and Axio, so for me I’m yet to experience a better acceleration from a newer car with the same engine. It has good kick down acceleration due to 4 speed automatic transmission. For me the engine performance is better than the Civic ES5(1.5l), Mazda Axela 2004-2009, Lancer CS series and Nissan Tiida.

Handling is a bit sharper than the newer Axios,Allions and Premios, but not sharp as a Honda or a Mazda. Steering is really light with a very little amount of feedback from the road. Due to the rear torsion beam setup the car is not steady in corners when compared to the older 110 and Carinas(which has independent rear suspension). But it is comparatively better in corners than the Axio.Braking is ok. Neither great nor bad. When it comes to handling Hondas and Mazdas are better.

On the highways the car is steady for speeds around 100-120. After 120 there was a slight vibration(due to the resonance of the engine) but when you accelerate further around 140 the vibration goes away.  There is a noticable change in stability after  140 as you can feel the car is well planted than before. You can go all the way upto 180 without any issue ONLY IF YOUR CAR IS IN PERFECT CONDITION(TIRES, ALIGNMENT,BRAKES AND SUSPENSION). I’ve tested twice and really impressed.

For day to day driving around the town the car is good due to reduced length and good ground clearance. Ground clearance is really good when compared to other cars from the same class and even with never Fit,Grace and Prius. The light steering really helps for easy manouvering.

Visibility is okay, but sometimes the thick front A pillars are a bit disturbing. Also there is a problem about visibility when the dashboards is reflected from the windscreen during direct sunlight.

Driving position is pretty higher like most other Toyotas and not sporty at all. Feels like you are sitting on a chair.

Comfort

When I bought the car it was running on its original shock absorbers. But in 2015 I changed them using Japan made KYB Excel G and it reduced the the comfort level by a considerable amount. But the car is more comfortable than Mazda Axela, Honda Fit GP1 and GP5, Civic FD3, Honda Grace and Vezel, Toyota Aqua. I can really handle potholes well, but bumps can make the car wavy due to the rear torsion beam setup.

The refinement levels are really good when compared to the above mentioned set of cars and it is another field that the 121 really excels. Under lightfooted driving the engine noise can’t be heard, and road noise levels are much lower. After long journeys I felt less tired than the Gp5 and Gp1.

Seats are really comfortable and are a bit firmer than 110,FB15 N16s, but not firm as the Allion Premio 260 2007-2012 F grade and Hondas and Mazdas. One thing that I noticed was the rear seat thigh support is better than the Premios and Allions. Seat space is okay of you are under 6ft. Front seats feel a bit cramped due to the dashboard design beacause I’m 6ft. I always felt that Front seats are less spacious for me when compared to the other cars, even the GP1 is better.

Fuel Economy

Another area that this car excels. Based on my personal experienced around the town it does only about 9-10 kmpl with full time ac on 92 octane(because I live in a really hilly area). For trips like Colombo to Kandy it car return around 14-15kmpl with full time AC. It returned well over 18kmpl when travelled through highway to matara and longer trips with less traffic with 3-4 adults on borad. Also note that driving pattern hugely affects the economy level. Slow driving will never return good fuel figures. Maintaining a speed level around 70-80 will return really good fuel figures. After the first few months I never calculated fuel figures since it is much less expensive to run.

Reliability

This is the car which made me a Toyota fan. It never broke down. Never even had to touch the spare tire. I had done 60,000km (93,000km to 153,000km). I only had to do the running repairs and replacements. Did the tuneups and changed the ATF fluid once for every 40,000km. Used only Toyota oils.Did the services on time and never let the “makabasses” touch the car. Changed the AC cooler. Changed one hub razor. Only the running repairs. But remember that most of the cars up for sale have been through much abuse and therefore don’t expect the same level of reliability from every car. Make sure to set aside about Rs.100,000 for the repairs when you are buying a car. Also note that some cars have manufacturing defects, eventhough the car model is proven reliable. I know a guy who sold his 2010 personally imported Allion after doing 60,000kms due to excessive repairs. That depends on your luck.

Options

Has a good amount of options considering it’s age. Always go for a G, G limited or a Luxel grade if you buy one. I will do another entry explaining about all the grades and options.

Build Quality

Interior is really good with soft touch materials on the dashboard and upper doors. All trim pieces are solidly fixed so I never experienced any “creeks”. Interior material quality is better than the 141 Axio and 2nd and 3rd gen Prius. Good when compared with the cars of the same category. 

Notable Faults with the car

-The steering rack is issue is famous with these Toyotas. It gives no problem except for the “duk duk” noise when travelling on bad roads. I repaired it but again after 3-4 months the noise came. Best thing is to replace it with a good reconditioned part.

-As mentioned before the dashboard’s reflection on the windscreen reduces the visibility during direct sunlight(only when the sunlight falls directly on the dash)

-The center console has a small compartment, just over the ash tray and the lid of it was broken from the begining and in most 121’s I’ve seen it broken.

-Discoloration of the headlights is pretty fast due to the shape of the headlights

Resale

The car was sold over a month ago keeping me a 150,000 profit even after 7 years of usage. Remember that if the price is right you can easily sell it. I was quoting a really high price earlier and got a chance to sell it keeping 275,000 profit. But at that time I had no car to move on so gave up the idea(3 months ago). I advertised the car on a not-that-much-famous site on internet and next day morning two boys came for inspection and in the evening gave the advance. He still calls me due to satisfaction.😃

Really I loved the car throughout it’s stay with me for 7 years. Really a good car which is suited well for the Sri Lankan conditions and Typical Sri Lankan car buyer’s requirements. Make sure to look after the car well and it returns you with good reliability. Always use japanese parts and good mechanics for the repairs.

Hope to do another entry to this blog about the Grades available in 121. This review is based purely on my experience and some details might differ from car to car. Please inform me if there is something inappropriate or wrong and welcome for all comments. I triend my best to provide and unbiased review.Thank you for reading👍

Cheers!!!

-alpha17-

  • Like 3
  • Thanks 3


14 Comments


Recommended Comments

Unbiased, no-nonsense and to-the-point. :)

My favorite pastime is reading vehicle ownership reviews on team-bhp, elakiri.com, and AL forums - to be honest, this must be the most phlegmatic review I have ever come across if you don't mind me saying so :D 

  • Thanks 1

Share this comment


Link to comment
alpha17

Posted (edited)

3 hours ago, Hyaenidae said:

Unbiased, no-nonsense and to-the-point. :)

My favorite pastime is reading vehicle ownership reviews on team-bhp, elakiri.com, and AL forums - to be honest, this must be the most phlegmatic review I have ever come across if you don't mind me saying so :D 

Not at all mate💪I really appreciate your comments.This is just a review about one of the cheapest cars made by Toyota Japan. But still I love the car very much. I had great memories with it. Went to some of the most important occations in my life in this car. So I really love it. Saw it even in a dream a few days ago:D Love is a personal thing, so better not to mention about it😁

Edited by alpha17

Share this comment


Link to comment

@alpha17 good stuff mate! when writing blogs make sure to include at least one photo which relates to the blog. Then it will make your blog post more interesting to read. You can upload the main photo as Feature Photo which is located bottom of the edit view and if you have more photos you can just upload and drag and drop any place in your blog post. For this blog post I just added the same photo which you had in your AL blog home page. Feel free to replace it if you have a better pic.

Also you may consider renaming this blog post as 'Toyota Corolla 121 Review' if you are planing to write several blog posts under your AL blog page and also rename the title of your main blog page.

Cheers,

 

  • Thanks 1

Share this comment


Link to comment

The reflection you get on the windscreen is caused by dashboard polish applied to the dashboard

Share this comment


Link to comment
1 hour ago, Magnum said:

The reflection you get on the windscreen is caused by dashboard polish applied to the dashboard

Nope mate. I never used dashboard polish. It is existent on my Allion too. But there is a special 3M tint to eliminate that and costs about 13,500.

Share this comment


Link to comment
1 hour ago, alpha17 said:

Nope mate. I never used dashboard polish. It is existent on my Allion too.

 

You can use a dashboard cover, I have one though I didn't have a problem with reflection - got it to cover the dashboard from direct sunlight

QCwNaSt.jpg

  • Like 2

Share this comment


Link to comment
16 minutes ago, Hyaenidae said:

You can use a dashboard cover, I have one though I didn't have a problem with reflection - got it to cover the dashboard from direct sunlight

QCwNaSt.jpg

Not intending to ruin this thread on 121..but have to say Very nice interior!! Looks elegant.😍

  • Thanks 1

Share this comment


Link to comment

A comprehensive honest review which this car deserves !! Good work ! 121, premio/Allion haters might not like this though 😂

  • Thanks 1

Share this comment


Link to comment

Nice succinct review.  When it came out in the early 2000s the 121 was a a bit of a novelty for the local car buyers  in terms of design etc...remember it was introduced into a market of 110's FB14's etc so the interior, features as well as the fuel efficient engine was quite a hit and  back then I remember being in one and appreciating the good space in the front compared to my dad's B14.  The 121 was probably the most popular model of corolla here. Sadly due to the extreme popularity 90% off these cars were used as a trade-able commodity hence the derelict state they're in. 

  • Thanks 1

Share this comment


Link to comment
On 3/6/2019 at 7:11 AM, Hyaenidae said:

You can use a dashboard cover, I have one though I didn't have a problem with reflection - got it to cover the dashboard from direct sunlight

QCwNaSt.jpg

I’ll probably consider about it. From where did you get it? 

BTW I agree with konos. Nice interior🤘And those leather covers really blend well.What about adding a polished aluminium trim? Will look nice with the contrast😇

Edited by alpha17
  • Thanks 1

Share this comment


Link to comment
On 3/6/2019 at 8:31 AM, TheFlyingFox said:

A comprehensive honest review which this car deserves !! Good work ! 121, premio/Allion haters might not like this though 😂

Thanks mate. I really appreciate the 121 for it’s driving. Easy to drive but the engine has considerably more oomph than other 1.5l cars due to resetting the ecu and flooring for about 20 minutes. This made a considerable difference. I don’t specifically hate any car, but I really can’t bear with the people who put all kinds of racing quotes decals on Marutis and wagon r s. Also there are people who owns these Allion 240’s and just 1.5l econoboxes have their fb bio as “racing is my soul” “street racer”. Even saw a Premio in Wennappuwa area saying that “speed is my greatest asset” and laughed from my a**. 

 

On 3/6/2019 at 10:48 AM, matroska said:

Nice succinct review.  When it came out in the early 2000s the 121 was a a bit of a novelty for the local car buyers  in terms of design etc...remember it was introduced into a market of 110's FB14's etc so the interior, features as well as the fuel efficient engine was quite a hit and  back then I remember being in one and appreciating the good space in the front compared to my dad's B14.  The 121 was probably the most popular model of corolla here. Sadly due to the extreme popularity 90% off these cars were used as a trade-able commodity hence the derelict state they're in. 

Yup, I remember when the 121 came out. I have to say that even in most of the Toyotas like Axio,Allion and Premio have improved what was in the 121. Engine is the same but feels much different than the 121. Gearbox is different. But overall the suspension system has only minor changes. When driving the current car most things remind me of the 121.

Share this comment


Link to comment

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Register for a new account in our community. It's easy and FREE!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


×