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All-new Altis hits the road

Toyota hopes to overtake Honda in car sales with Corolla's "sporty, cutting-edge design, exciting driving performance and comfort"

For the first time in history, Toyota was left sniffing the dust after being overtaken by Honda in passenger car sales last year. And despite brisk sales of its new Yaris eco-car during the final month of 2013, Toyota still failed to catch up with its arch rival. But things may be about to change.

Toyota, the country's largest automaker, is hoping to accelerate past Honda and win back the car-sales crown this year with the launch of its new Corolla Altis compact car.

With prices starting at Bt769,000 for the entry-level model, the Altis - which will be ready for sale in showrooms countrywide from Saturday - is expected to earn 4,000 orders for Toyota per month, said Toyota Motor Thailand president Kyoichi Tanada.

"We will target a younger generation of customers with the car's sporty, cutting-edge design and exciting driving performance, while its elegance, comfort and high equipment level is targeted at a more mature generation," he pointed out.

"With the distinct characters of the all-new Corolla that comes in various models for every customer, I am confident that the new model will respond to each customer's need and will play a significant role in increasing Toyota's sales and Thailand's passenger cars sales numbers as a whole," Tanada said.

The new Corolla is powered by 1.6- and 1.8-litre engines carried over from the previous model. The 122hp 1.6, which is also available with CNG versions, gets a new gearbox, while the 141hp 1.8 still relies on the old 7-speed CVT transmission. Both models have front strut and rear torsion beam suspension with stabilisers and disc brakes front and rear for improved roadholding and stopping performance.

The car's interior is larger than the outgoing model's, thanks to a 100mm increase in its wheelbase. As a result, the cabin is 80mm longer and 15mm wider. According to Toyota, rear passengers will be more comfortable with the increased cabin dimensions.

The interior also features a new soft-fabric cyber-carbon console, a new steering wheel and gauges, as well as a new air-conditioning system. There are four trim levels for the 1.8 and another four for the 1.6 (including two CNG models with automatic and manual transmissions).

The Corolla was first introduced in Thailand in 1966, and approximately 670,000 of the cars have been sold so far, making it the most popular passenger car in the country. Globally, more than 40 million Corollas have been sold to date, and it serves as a core model for the Japanese automaker.


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