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Gareth Butterfield tests the Toyota Corolla Sport Touring

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Toyota-Corolla-Sports-Tourer

I’ve always struggled to fathom why the buying public has seemingly fallen out of love with the estate car. One seen as the best possible tool for a family, or an indispensable workhorse for the working man, they’ve quickly been replaced by SUVs and now they have something of a cult following.

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Toyota-Corolla-Sports-Tourer

I’m one of the many people who have signed up to that cult. I love an estate car, and I was very keen to test the new, British built, Toyota Corolla Touring Sports. See, they don’t even call them estate cars now. What have we become?
Anyway, one of the things I like about the estate body style is the way it can transform the looks of a car. While the standard Corolla hatchback is by no means an ugly duckling, add on an estate boot and you’ve got a genuinly beautiful car that looks almost too good for the mainstream market it has been launched into.
Its side profile is nothing short of gorgeous, and although the rear view is a little underwhelming, viewed from the front quarter, it has a lovely, flowing swoop from front to back. I love it, especially in silver.

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Toyota-Corolla-Sports-Tourer

One of the first things I need to get off my chest is the “Sport” in its rather clunky name is something of a red herring. While it’s no damp squib, especially with the 178bhp 2.0-litre version I was testing, you really shouldn’t expect any tyre-smoking frivolity. And the CVT gearbox bundled in with every Toyota hybrid system is always a bit of a buzz-kill.
Let’s get onto that hybrid system. Anyone who’s graduated from the Prius school of eco-motoring will find it familiar. It’s a self-charging setup with a small battery to whisk you along silently for a mile or two in town and a petrol engine that will cut in if you prod the right pedal too hard, or if the battery runs out of juice.
It’s proven incredibly effective over the years, but don’t always believe the MPG claims. While systems like this are great in the urban sprawl I always tend to struggle to get decent figures at motorway speeds.
That said, 50mpg is within very easy reach in most scenarios and emissions can be as low as 103g/km in the 1.8 litre, 122bhp version.

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Toyota-Corolla-Sports-Tourer

Comfort and practicality are excellent. Headroom is generous, there’s lots of space in the back, and the boot is, obviously, rather capacious for its class.
Refinement and reliability are strong suits with the Corolla and the Touring Sports is no exception. The dash layout is nicely thought-out, with a clean look and just the right number of physical buttons, supported by a decent infotainment system and an excellent driver display.
The range starts at just over £27,500 for the Icon version, and reaches over £32,000 for a top-spec Excel. There’s a GR Sport version but, as I say, don’t buy the Corolla for its thrills.
As a day-to-day runabout, however, it’s brilliant. Quiet, easy to drive, economical and smart to look at. You’ll struggle to find a decent estate car in this end of the market, especially one with such strong eco-credentials.
So if you’re like me and you can’t bear to see the estate car die out entirely, snap one up. You won’t regret it.

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Toyota-Corolla-Sports-Tourer