The exterior design of the ninth generation Corolla was based on flowing, perpetual styling that utilized advanced packaging with characteristic features that included a long wheelbase, wide treads and big cabin. The front and rear overhangs were shortened, and the sense of vehicle status was increase — skillfully balancing youthfulness and a refined image. Even with its increased overall height, the new model portrayed a carefree image.
The interior design adopted a simple, lasting design with an emotional, youthful image. A sense of massiveness and elegance were skillfully balanced with a form that expanded freely and created gradual curves in the crosswise direction from the center of the instrument panel, and the stately form that expanded widely in the vertical direction of the center cluster. A bright, top and bottom 2-tone color scheme was adopted to complete an interior trim that was comprehensively coordinated in color and form. As a result, a high quality space comparable to that of a class above was achieved within a compact body size.
All gasoline engines for the ninth generation Corolla were designed newly with the generous use of advanced technology, such as VVT-i (Variable Valve Timing-intelligent system)*, and both higher output and better fuel economy were achieved.
* The 2ZZ-GE engine adopted the VVTL-i (Variable Valve Timing and Lift-intelligent) system.
VVT-i is a valve timing mechanism that incorporates electronic control in the VVT (Variable Valve Timing) system adopted by the 4A-GE engine of the seventh generation. The conventional VVT system altered the opening and closing timing of the intake valves during low speeds and high speeds and used a condition-based switching method. In contrast, the VVT-i system targeted higher output, better fuel efficiency and lower emissions and used a method that constantly controlled the intake valve timing. With the adoption of this model, the VVT-i system evolved from a mechanism that focused on a sporty drive to one that focused on overall performance and efficiency. It is now widely used in many engines.
For the NZ series and ZZ series engines, various new technologies were adopted, such as a slanted squish combustion chamber for stabilized combustion and an offset crankshaft to reduce engine friction loss.
All engines were developed and tuned with emphasis on performance in the practical range. The 1.3-liter 2NZ-FE was designed for a maximum output of 65kW/6000rpm and a maximum torque of 123Nm/4400rpm, while the 1.5-liter 1NZ-FE reached a maximum output of 81kW/6000rpm and a maximum torque of 143Nm/4200rpm. The 1.8-liter 1ZZ-FE engine generated a maximum output of 100kW/6000rpm and a maximum torque of 171Nm/4200rpm and provided a high quality drive and excellent fuel economy.
The Sports twin cam 4A-GE engine, which for 17 long years had supported the Corolla Sports models, finally reached the end of its important role. The 1.8-liter 2ZZ-GE engine was adopted beginning with the ninth generation Corolla. This engine shared the basic concept of the 1ZZ-FE but was developed to display sportier characteristics. In addition to the continuously variable intake valve timing offered by the VVT-i, a VVTL-i mechanism also was adopted to control the amount of valve lift on both the intake and exhaust sides. Furthermore, high rotation and higher output were pursued by adopting a short stroke design, a higher compression ratio and larger diameter valves. A maximum output of 140kW/7600rpm and a maximum torque of 180Nm/6800rpm were achieved.
On the other hand, the 2.2-liter 3C-E diesel engine was inherited and adopted from the eighth generation Corolla. Minute modifications were made, such as adopting a cross flow intake and exhaust method and an electronically controlled fuel injection pump to generate a maximum output of 58kW/4400rpm and a maximum torque of 147Nm/2400rpm.
For the transmission, a newly developed, electronically controlled 4-speed automatic transmission called the Super ECT (Electronically Controlled Transmission) was adopted. This transmission incorporated high precision hydraulic control for smooth shift quality and good response. Other highly advanced control technologies included an ascending and descending control and a flex lockup control. The flex lockup control, together with the reduced operating friction of the transmission itself, contributed to fuel economy, and equipping the ninth generation Corolla with this Super ECT resulted in good fuel efficiency with excellent response suited for the next-generation global standard.
With the adoption of a new platform, a MacPherson strut suspension was adopted for the front, and an ETA-beam or a double wishbone suspension was adopted for the rear. A MacPherson strut suspension with an L-shaped lower arm similar to that of the past was adopted for the front suspension but was entirely redesigned, and the suspension geometry was optimized. Also, stabilizers were adopted in all vehicles to ensure roll rigidity and superior riding comfort. The ETA-beam suspension adopted on the rear of FF (front engine, front wheel drive) models was a type of torsion beam suspension. This suspension uses the changes in the camber angle and toe angle that occur due to the toe-correct bushing and torsion of the axle beam to achieve riding comfort and stability both when turning and when driving in a straight line. The rear suspension used in the 4WD (four wheel drive) models was a compact double wishbone suspension with optimally positioned arms and a sub frame. This suspension was also equipped with a stabilizer, an ideal suspension configuration for 4WD properties.
The steering mechanism was also completely redesigned, and a power steering system was adopted in all vehicles. In some models, the newly developed column-type electric power steering system was adopted. This power steering system calculated the amount of assistance necessary based on vehicle speed and engine speed, used a motor and speed reduction device to generate the assist torque when steering and provided a natural steering feeling. Also, because assist force was only generated when steering, better fuel efficiency performance was achieved and the structure was simplified with fewer component parts.
In addition to the attractive appearance, aerodynamic characteristics were also pursued for the ninth generation Corolla, and smooth air flow was ensured along the underbody. Also, wind noise was reduced and aerodynamic performance was improved with a flush surface design for the merging points of the glass, pillars and roof and by adopting a fender liner spats.