How Toyota Corolla saw off “fierce” competition to win Medium Car of the Year

How Toyota Corolla saw off “fierce” competition to win Medium Car of the Year

It’s a recurring theme of the annual Continental Tyres Irish Car of the Year awards – of all the categories up for grabs, best Medium Car is invariably, inevitably, one of the most competitive shake-ups of the lot.

So it proved again in the 2020 instalment of Ireland’s premier automotive awards, as a hatful of genuine heavyweight contenders – including Skoda, Kia, Mercedes, Mazda – jostled for the Medium category prize.

In the end, though, it was no contest!

“There was some heavy-duty competition in the Medium category, all great cars, but the new Toyota Corolla still managed to be head and shoulders above everything else to win the category,” marvels Irish Car of the Year jury member Bob Flavin in our latest video review of 2020 winners.

“The Corolla took a quantum leap forward in 2019 and the judges were really impressed,” enthuses fellow juror Caroline Kidd. “It’s one of the most efficient cars we drove in the entire year.”

High praise indeed, and a ringing endorsement of Toyota’s decision to replace its Auris model with an all-new hybrid-powered version of the legendary Corolla.

World’s best-seller

Since making that move, the Japanese car-maker hasn’t looked back – the all-conquering Corolla is currently the world’s top-selling model, while the Corolla was also Ireland’s best-selling car in the all-important January sales period.

But why? What has the Corolla got that those other heavyweight contenders do not? We invited ICOTY jury stalwarts Caroline and Bob to climb into the Corolla and talk us through its unique qualities… here’s what they had to say.

“The judges were really impressed with the Corolla’s quantum leap, especially in terms of design and engineering,” says Caroline Kidd.

In one of the most competitive categories in the whole competition, the Corolla has got broad appeal,” she says. “It’s a very comfortable car, very stylish, desirable, and it has a truly efficient hybrid powertrain – one of the most efficient cars [the jury] drove in 2019.”

“There’s also been a step forward in terms of quality, which you can see with the beautiful soft-touch materials in the interior, not to mention all the latest safety features and infotainment,” Caroline adds.

Style, efficiency, comfort

“Overall, the judges liked the Toyota Corolla for its style, efficiency, comfort and suite of standard safety features.”

High praise indeed, with fellow juror Bob Flavin keen to emphasise the Corolla’s family credentials and range of choice.

“Every family in Ireland is aware of the Toyota Corolla, because they’ve have been around for years and years,” he says.

“But now there are three versions of the car to choose from – there’s the epic looking saloon, there’s a sports tourer, and of course there’s a hatchback version, so there’s plenty of choice for the Irish buyer.

“The Corolla is a predictable family saloon, hatchback and estate, and that’s what makes it easy to drive,” Bob continues. “But there’s one other little secret as well, and it’s that all Corollas are automatic. It’s a very quiet car, very responsive.”

A couple of tech innovations and a feature designed to make motorway driving that bit easier – and safer – are what seal the deal.

“Another nice handy feature is active cruise control which you can set to follow the car in front of you, so you won’t get any closer or further away,” he says. “It’s the ultimate lazy man’s motorway tourer!

“The dashboard lay-out is really easy and straightforward and the new updated Corolla also gets Apple Car Play and Android Auto,” he adds. “It’s a very simple to use interface because Toyota are pretty clever with these sorts of things.”

As hybrids go, the new Corolla is one of the most efficient offerings on the market with a range of safety and driver assistance features that emphasise Toyota’s famous attention to detail. Our Medium Car of the Year for 2020 is a stand-out winner.