When you are introducing the public to a vehicle that means a big chunk of business to your company, you don’t do it halfway. Which is why the 2014 Toyota Corolla made a big splash when announcing its arrival to the media, the public and assorted Toyota owners, employees, and dealers in Santa Monica, California, featuring a “Get Elevated” theme.
Over 750 people in attendance were treated to a feast for the mouth and the eyes. Before the reveal, food stations were available, featuring a variety of unique tastes (licorice grits, for example) from chef Richard Blais, winner of tv’s “Top Chef All Stars.” The star of the food show was a liquid-nitrogen martini.
Once liquored up and stuff with food, attendees craned their necks to watch acrobatic tumblers put on a show inside high up hanging light boxes. The performers are part of a live experience troupe from Argentina called Fuerza Bruta (brute force translated from Spanish). Once the main area opened, the performances got louder and more bizarre, with a few femal performers sliding around in a lightly filled rectangular tank suspended above the crowd. Others were hanging on a sliding curtain rod running and tumbling back and forth on a waving silver lamé curtain. And still others did a dance skit symbolic of breaking out of a box, which is about the only symbolism we understood for the Corolla introduction.
While the majority of the people loved the show, the jaded, tired automotive journalists were wondering if they would ever see the car. After 30 minutes of the performance, the “elevated” Corolla finally dropped down from the ceiling to make its first public appearance on U.S. soil. It was not lost on us that two other cars, a blue and a white one, joined the red one that came from above, continuing Toyota’s push to show that it’s as American as apple pie.
Once the vehicle was properly introduced, Bill Fay, Toyota division group vice president and general manager, gave a brief speech (compared to auto show standards) about the Corolla’s 47-year history, as well as its importance to the brand. As an added surprise, comedian Adam Carolla appeared in his Long Beach Grand Prix driving suit for some brief and semi-humorous banter about changing the spelling of his name and his memories of Corolla from many years ago.
But enough about the experience. What about the vehicle?
First impressions: the production model shares a lot of the styling cues from the Furia concept we saw on the auto show circuit. The lines have been smoothed and cleaned up a bit, and looked worlds better than the current rental car favorite Corolla of today. Toyota calls the design “iconic dynamism,” and shows off a longer wheelbase (almost four inches) and tapered front and rear ends.
The front overhang is shorter than the rear, and the curved rear haunch character line is nicely done, but one we’re seeing in a lot of new vehicles (Impala, Mercedes Benz).
The nose is certainly more aggressive, and has a slight resemblance to the new Avalon, but certainly not as noticeable as the new face of Ford products, i.e., Fiesta and Fusion. According to the Corolla design team, because traditional headlamps tend to be big and bulky, all Corollas will come standard with slim LED headlamps, which not only look better but help with the aerodynamic styling (a competitive 0.28 coefficient of drag). Corolla claims to be the first compact sedan to offer standard LED front lamps.