Over many generations Toyota’s Corolla has sold in vast quantities around the globe. Irish motorists love the front-wheel drive car more than most and this fact is reflected in our sales charts through the years with 200,000 sold!

The latest Corolla is designed as a world car, so you will see near identical machines across the planet. World cars must be all things to all buyers and this can result in a very bland exterior but Toyota hasn’t done a bad job with the four-door saloon. There is a new, longer and lower exterior that reflects the larger Camry and old Corolla to some degree. The front end is more curvaceous, while side on the now 100mm longer wheelbase allows for a well-proportioned cabin and front and rear body overhangs. The rear doors get a stylish lift up towards the C pillar that adds a bit of sophistication. The rear has a more notchback-look that disguises a large boot. Overall the latest Corolla is both smart and well styled on the outside.

Inside the 11th generation Corolla you’ll find plenty of space. The interior has been enlarged and there is much more rear passenger room over the outgoing car. Up front Toyota’s continues its latest flat-looking dash theme. In the center of the dash there is a modest-sized touch screen display.

Otherwise the layout is pretty conventional and functional. The driving position and all round visibility are good. Our test car featured seating upholstered in an Ivory fabric. While the cabin looked good with the contrasting plastics and light seats my only concern would be how well it will wear.

Three specification grades are available; Terra, Aura and Luna. All get seven airbags, LED daytime running lights and USB connectivity to name a few. Other toys include Bluetooth as standard on Aura and Luna while the later gets a reversing camera, some additional chrome trim and front fog lights.

Power, for now, comes from a choice of three engines; a six-speed, 1.33-litre VVT-i petrol (starting from €20,995), a 1.6-litre Valvematic ‘Multidrive 7’ automatic (€25,995 Aura) or a 90hp, 1.4-litre D4D diesel that features Stop/Start technology starting at €21,995 that is very well priced compared to its rivals.

On the road Corolla does what it says on the tin. It is refined, quiet - unless you’re pressing on in the diesel and predictable in terms of handling. Our top-spec Luna D4D (€24,550) cruised well on the motorway and with just 90hp (and 205nm) on tap it was never going to be exciting but it was very frugal on diesel.

Toyota has sold over 40 million Corollas and with the latest version the Japanese giant has taken a big step forward. Corolla has always been a good and dependable machine despite critics consistently describing it as dull. The new machine mightn’t be thrilling to drive but with its improved looks, attractive pricing, increased cabin space and refreshed styling it will continue to sell in large numbers here with an expected 2,500 sales in 2014. Currently a new Corolla rolls off the assembly line every two minutes!

Michael Sheridan