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Altered Burning – The Toyota Corolla Altis Diesel
[Image: 061E326AD0E72CF371D7F33666C.jpg] [Image: B866A17DB8A43B6AEB4CB67702CDD.jpg] [Image: AA10BF2A647639809D1074DE812BE.jpg] [Image: DAB5F7D1BD9DD02AEFE2CB7BBE1285.jpg] [Image: 926B67C92A9A7F14AC19E310FE321.jpg] [Image: CDF06620BE368E814EAFAD62BF1D.jpg] [Image: CD763ED61D6667938F978EC096BBB1.jpg] [Image: 2B6AACF68EEE76FEB7C931ED45BAA.jpg] [Image: 9F34A84E5654E4A8FF809629B57BDB.jpg]

Adhish Alawani gets behind the wheel of the Toyota Corolla Altis with a diesel heart. Is it just another Toyota or something more than that?

For a long time we had been looking forward to Toyota's diesel variant of the Corolla Altis. Harmaan had told me about the hatchback version, powered by a 1.4-litre diesel, that is sold abroad. From what he told me, there was no doubt this one was going to be an exciting car. At the same time, I haven't been a fan of the Altis' petrol variant. So, both these factors had given rise to a mixed set of presumptions in my mind before actually getting behind the wheel of the new Corolla Altis' diesel iteration.

Nurturing presumptions about a car before actually driving it is nothing short of a grave mistake for an automotive journalist. So, as soon as the car arrived at the office, I took the key and went out for a spin.

The engine comes to life with the typical diesel feel. However, the gruff of the diesel vanishes as soon as you get going. The refinement levels of this motor are unbelievably good. And so is the feel of the powerplant. Pulling smoothly and linearly from as low as 1,000 revs, the Altis comes into its element about the 2,000 rpm mark and from there on it puts a smile on your face.
It was totally unexpected of the Corolla Altis to pull that well and keep pulling all the way until over 175 km/h, especially considering that it has just a 1.4-litre engine that puts out a maximum of 88.4 PS. However, it's the 205 Nm of torque that makes you smile and the linearity of its delivery is the real hobgoblin that makes you fall in love with the way the engine responds to the movement of your right foot. Naught to 100 km/h in just 13.3 seconds tells us the story. Compare this with 11.5 seconds of the Altis' 1.8-litre petrol version and you realise how impressive the much smaller and much less powerful diesel motor is.

But it's not just the pedal-floored condition alone that delights you. An even greater surprise is in store during the city traffic drive. The strong pull and torque delivery from low revs to higher ones calls for lesser gearshifts. In fact, during my hour's drive through the hugger-mugger of Pune streets and traffic, I could stick mostly to the fourth cog, barring a couple of times when I had to drop speed drastically either to stop for a red light or to move slowly on for a bus to give me way.
The transmission is the next thing in line that continues to impress you. Butter-smooth and precise is how one would describe the six-speed box of the Altis. Did you read six-speed? Yes, you did. Quite astonishingly, Toyota have mated their diesel engine with a six-speed box, something that's unique in this class.

Come to the drive quality of the Altis and it doesn't disappoint you either. The suspension is slightly on the softer side, but, in any case, you wouldn't expect it to be stiff and sporty for a car in this segment. The steering is well weighted, but gives a hint of understeer while hard cornering. But again, it's not an enthusiast's car and is not expected to be driven hard round the corners.
Look at the cabin of the Altis and there is nothing surprisingly new. Apart from the wood inserts, which continue to be the disappointing bit, the interior of the Altis looks okay. The equipment level on the Corolla is remarkably good with automatic headlamps, tilt and telescopic steering, multi-information display and steering-mounted controls etc. Another big asset of the Altis has been its amazing legroom and comfort.
So how is the idea to own a Corolla Altis diesel? A fantastic deal if you look at the price tag. No one expected the Altis to vanquish the competition with its tag alone. Rs. 12.6 lakh for the base version and
Rs 15.8 lakh for the top end (OTR Pune) is killer pricing. Even better are the fuel efficiency figures that stand at 16 km per litre within city and 23 kpl on highways, beating even the small cars in the market!
If you look at the competition that the Altis faces, the Chevrolet Cruze is the only option at that price. The Cruze is a much more powerful option, but the Toyota brand, which spells reliability and efficiency, will put the Cruze far behind the Altis. The Skoda Octavia is on the verge of extinction and if you consider the Laura, it's a machine in a class apart, but has a much higher price tag too (Rs 3 lakh more than the Altis).

In short, Toyota have struck it perfect with the Altis diesel version. Quick, tractable, efficient, luxurious and inexpensive - what else does one want?

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