Does Toyota need to bring back the Corolla wagon?
By John LeBlanc for MSN Autos CanadaWhat you’re looking at, above, is the new Toyota Auris Touring Sports Hybrid, a gas-electric hybrid version of the formerly gas-only Auris wagon we first saw at last year’s Paris auto show. And if you’re thinking what I’m thinking, then yes, it should be sold in Canada as a Corolla Wagon when that model gets redesigned later this year.
To recap, the Auris is essentially Toyota’s European Corolla. I've already argued that the four-door hatchback Auris would make a great replacement for the Matrix. But now, if you haven’t noticed, Toyota's Euro compact's styling is very similar to the Toyota Corolla Furia concept from this year’s Detroit auto show (seen left), a show car that’s supposed to get us ready for what the next North American Corolla sedan (due by the end of this year) will look like. But is offering only a four-door Corolla enough to keep compact rivals at bay?
Between you and me, Toyota needs to buff-up its image in the ultra-competitive Canadian compact class. Sure, the Corolla is still one of the best selling cars in Canada. But the sedan-only bodystyle is an image killer. If the next Corolla adopts some of the looks of the Furia/Auris, we think that’s a good start. But one of the reasons why compact rivals like the Ford Focus, Mazda3, Hyundai Elantra, and Kia Forte sell so well is they offer a variety of body styles, including practical hatchback versions.
So here’s where a new Corolla Wagon, not seen since 1998, could steal some thunder. First off, there’s been speculation that the current Corolla-based hatch, the Matrix won’t make it to the next model changeover. And with the marketing success Toyota has had by expanding its Prius brand with more bodystyles, expanding the Corolla — which use to have hatches, coupes and wagons — seems like no-brainer. And beyond the pricey Prius V, no Matrix leaves the woeful Scion xD and xB as the sole hatches for Canadian Toyota dealers to sell — not good.
What do you think? Is Toyota missing an opportunity if it doesn’t introduce a hatchback and/or wagon for its next Corolla? Or are the only customers that buy these vehicles automotive journalists and car geeks?