Disclaimer: I did not want this car. I was perfectly happy with my Vios. I might have thought about getting a second car, but that was it. The car is a 2015 Toyotal Corolla Axio Hybrid, with the face lift. Okay so with that out of the way, do note I will be comparing the car mostly with my Vios, and also with a 2010 Prius and a 2013 Prius C when comparing the Toyota HSD (Hybrid Synergy Drive). Exterior 'Dat nose tho'. That is the most disruptive front end on a Corolla I have ever seen, bar none. It’s part of Toyota’s new design language, which came to being with the Lexus RX200h and got carried over to Toyota, as made evident by the Kouki Camrys, Axios and Aquas gracing the streets. However, you learn to get used to it, and eventually, from some angles, it even begins to look decent. Apart from that, the only other differences in the exterior are the improved rear lights (they look a lot better) and the introduction of brown as a body colour (not seen on JDMs since the KE7x models I think?), which replaces the beaten-to-death maroon. Interior The interior is mostly the same as the Zenki version, however, the dashboard can only be had in black now, plus the side a/c registers have been replaced with old school twist center twist type ones. There are also vents under the rear seats pointed at the rear passengers' feet, a la BMW X1 style. The sears on mine were beige, which is the apparently the "in" thing these days, god knows why, because they get stained if you even look at them for too long. I also like (and prefer) the regular (gated) shifter from the Aqua/Prius C rather than the center return in the Prius and Hondas. Oh and a thing of note; the B gear is the Toyota HSD equivalent of a Jake Brake which I find fascinating, and also very useful when climbing down inclines. The colour LCD is unobtrusive and offset to the right, and there’s also a tachometer, why I don’t know, since the left pedal is not connected to the engine in any way, but if I were to fathom a guess, it would be to keep the car as “normal” looking as possible. In fact, if I were to remove the hybrid emblems on the sides and replace the rear HSD emblem with a Start/Stop emblem, no one would know it was a hybrid. Bells and whistles The car has nearly every option box ticked, with the exception of LED head lamps, alloys and heated seats (don’t need them anyway). The dealer fitted alloys which actually look a good deal better than stock, and I don’t really mind the halogen head lamps. The car has Toyota’s new Safety Sense C system, which comprise of a trio of safety systems - Pre-collision warning - Lane Departure Alert - Auto High Beams I’ve got the latter two switched off, but I do use the pre-collision warning, because it also tell me when the car in front of me has moved off, which is useful for when I’ve got my nose buried in my phone sitting in traffic. Apart from that, it’s got basically got all the features of the current Allion/Premio, i.e. all auto windows, rear wiper, auto headlights, climate control, adjustable driver’s seat height etc. Driving and comfort Omfg, the steering. I used to think light steering was the bomb, with the few times I’d driven other hybrids, but eff me if the electric steering in the Axio Hybrid isn’t the numbest steering system on the planet. I can turn the wheel with my pinky, effortlessly. There is absolutely no feedback, at ALL; it gives zero indication as to what surface the wheels are on. I can be doing 80, and have no clue kind of road I’m on; the tire hum gives me more feedback than the steering wheel. The suspension is plush, but I have no lack of confidence when throwing the car into a corner, it remains planted on the road pretty well. It does dive during hard braking, something the Vios simply did not do; I would stand on the brake pedal and it would merely stop on a dime, flat and completely composed. The Corolla actually stops better, but it does so with ass in the air. Hybrid performance I usually drive in ECO mode, mostly because the car defaults to that if it is not driven for a few hours, and I can’t be arsed to press the ECO mode button all the time. The car has “only” 99hp combined, even though the engine is good for 74hp and the motor is capable of 40hp on it’s own. Clearly things have been over engineered in this case. Acceleration isn’t blinding, but pick up from a standstill with ECO mode off is clearly better than the Vios (thanks to all that low down torque from the motor). It’s clear even during hard acceleration the car is not struggling, and that it can do better. I assume they’ve tuned the firmware on the eCVT to keep engine stress down to the very bare minimum. Speaking of eCVT, the car has no gearbox; just two motors (one is used mostly as a generator) sitting between the engine and the wheels. The transition from EV to ICE and vice versa is much better, and quicker than a 2010 Prius. When the ICE comes on, it feels like VTEC just kicked. I often find myself looking at the tacho to see if the ICE is on or not, because road noise easily overcomes the engine noise when travelling at 40km/h and above. The EV mode is good for accelerating up to 60km/h or so, and I’ve managed to sustain as much as 70km/h on a flat gradient for brief periods of time. Driving in EV mode is a sublime experience, and I doubt I could ever go back to a regular ICE powered car unless it was an uber quiet euro. That fact also makes me yearn to own a LEAF, and I’m already working towards obtaining one by mid of next year. “Aiye, meka thel karanne kiyak witharada?” I managed to do 672kms on the first full tank. The journey consisted of mostly 100km/h+ speeds on the way to, and around, southern Sri Lanka. The average Colombo run is between 18kmpl to 20kmpl (paying attention to the real time gauge is pointless), with a maximum of 23kmpl reached during the trip mentioned above. I’ve posted a photo of the current stats, and you can see from the average speed I’m not exaggerating. So to wrap things up, I’m more or less satisfied with the car. I certainly like the fact that there aren’t many brown Axios out there yet (I see maybe one every two days). Without going into a tirade, I’ll say that I enjoy not wasting as much fuel as I used to for the past 15 odd years I’ve been legally driving. It has always been something that was on my mind while tolerating the grind from the Kotte area to Borella, and I’ve often thought that a hybrid would be ideal for this situation as it assuages my “waste not want not” mantra. And if certain detractors still believe that I bought this car to save on money (which many people do and I find absolutely nothing wrong with that), but I’m being all suave about it; I’ve got a fuel allowance which more than covered the fueling costs of my Vios while I had it, i.e. I spend 0 rupees on fuel out of hand and have enough left over to pamper the car with Modellista bits and bobs (coming soon).
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