Odometer at pick-up: 1,744 km
Odometer Current: 3,908 km (2,163 by Autos.ca)
Fuel Consumption: 7.14 L/100 km
Costs: $181.80 (Fuel only)

It gets us in to work every morning, painlessly and comfortably, though not exactly effortlessly, sips fuel, and looks like no Corolla ever before it.

It’s been a quiet couple of weeks in the Yarkony household and that’s partly because our Toyota Corolla is so easy to live with. It gets us in to work every morning, painlessly and comfortably, though not exactly effortlessly, sips fuel, and looks like no Corolla ever before it.

Now that we’ve had plenty of time and kilometres to get familiar with the Corolla, we thought we’d talk about the drive. But before I forget, I thought I’d mention that I’ve had problems with the Bluetooth picking up and connecting to my phone sometimes. Not every time, but sometimes my phone just refuses to connect, even when I select it from the available paired phones.

Last time we mentioned that the seats are superb, but the lack of range in the steering wheel makes for a slightly awkward driving position for me. Startup is by way of a big button on the dash, and the little four-cylinder buzzes to life.

It’s quiet enough at idle, but starts to buzz and whine the harder you press it. While it does get a bit loud, and is accompanied by some tire and wind noise on the highway, it hasn’t grated on my nerves as some buzzy cars do. In fact, after passing a couple cars on the highway, I tend to settle in at high cruising speeds, something I normally forgo in underpowered cars.

Okay, perhaps underpowered is a bit harsh, but the Corolla’s 132 hp and 128 lb-ft of torque are working against 1,295 kg, and there’s no way you call a car that struggles up to speed like this fast. Adequate maybe. I don’t think that’s a surprise to anyone here.

However, the meagre power is somewhat redeemed by the responsive transmission. The Corolla’s continuously variable transmission is a flexible and efficient transmission. While not as sporty as Subaru’s more advanced applications of their CVT, the Corolla S nonetheless offers smooth and seamless (if a bit lurchy) normal operation, paddle shifters that accompany a manual mode, and a Sport mode that sharpens throttle and adjusts transmission responses, to get you into the engine’s power band (hp at 6,000 rpm and torque at 4,400) earlier and more often.

Catch up with our first reports: Arrival and Update 1

So, you kind of wheeze your way up to speed when not dawdling like an old granny, but once moving, you can poke along or try to keep momentum by maintaining aggressive revs. The revelation comes when you turn the steering wheel, or even when simply maintaining your lane at highway speeds. The Corolla S has a good, firm feel on centre when cruising the highway, and the car itself feels directionally stable, though not exactly locked down and planted. Facing an upcoming corner, the pedal is firm and easy to modulate and the brakes bite nicely.

Turn the steering wheel, and lo and behold, the wheels point in that direction. More than that, the steering wheel is firm without being heavy so it’s easy in all situations without being lax or loose. There may not be any sort of transcendental feedback that paints the picture of the traction underneath, but this is great steering for an economical little compact, and elevates the Corolla from the bottom of the pack to being one of the enjoyable drivers in the segment.

In fact, the steering, braking, throttle and handling are good enough on public roads that I would really like to take this to an autocross course to find out just how far you can push it before it loses its charm. However, longer turns, like onramps, and the steering begins to lighten up right when you want it to be at its firmest, so Golfs and Mazda3s won’t likely be going back to the drawing book over this one.

Then again, while the wheels may be upsized 17-inchers with P215/45R17 Firestone FR740 ‘high performance’ all-season tires, the suspension is still economical front MacPherson struts and rear torsion beam with stabilizer bars at both ends, but no question this trim still remains at the comfort end of the spectrum. Bumps are noticed but rarely felt strongly, and sharper turns are accentuated with a fair bit of body roll.

Still, the overwhelming reaction is awe that this is a Corolla. It may not be fast, but it is fun to push around and see what you can get out of it.