The reason that we can say that the all-new 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback is “all-new” is because it really doesn’t share anything in common with the Corolla sedan that’s currently on sale here in the U.S. The Corolla Hatchback is based on the European version of the car, which Toyota calls the Auris. It rides on a brand-new platform — Toyota’s global architecture — and it’s an improvement in pretty much every single way over the current Corolla sedan.
Related: 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback First Drive: the Changes It Needed
Under the hood of the Corolla Hatchback is a new 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 168 horsepower. That’s a 31-hp improvement over the outgoing Corolla iM. That car felt a bit sluggish, but this car doesn’t. The bigger changes to the powertrain — for me — actually come with the transmissions.
There will be two available transmissions on the hatchback: a continuously variable transmission or a six-speed manual. Both get changes that make them a bit more drivable and a bit easier to live with. Starting with the CVT: It is a CVT, but at the bottom of it is what we call a “fixed gear.” Essentially what it has is a 1st gear that behaves like 1st gear in a traditional automatic transmission, which gives it better off-the-line acceleration. One of the big complaints about CVTs is that they have a rubber-band feel that makes them really bad from a stop. In the Corolla Hatchback, acceleration from a stop feels much more linear and the car feels much more responsive.