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Thomas Mallett2012-10-17 17:49:15

Countries and their cars: Japan

 
 
Slideshow
The Toyota Corolla is the top-selling model of all times with more than 32 million units sold throughout five decades of existance

What can I pick for Japan? Like all the major car producing countries there are numerous choices. Maybe HondaHondaHondaJapan, 1948 > present102 models
2431 photos
10 videos
’s NSXNSXHonda NSXJapan, 1992 > 20062 series
11 versions
22 photos
3 videos
? No, that’s too niche. Or one of Honda’s V-Tech powered models? No, that would miss the point. I’m picking the humble ToyotaToyotaToyotaJapan, 1937 > present155 models
4668 photos
10 videos
CorollaCorollaToyota CorollaJapan, 1966 > present11 series
184 versions
115 photos
instead.

Over 37 million Corolla’s have been sold to date and that is quite a feat. Indeed, it is the best selling car in the world…ever. If that doesn’t make it the car that represents Japan the best then I don’t know what does.

I made an argument for the Toyota PriusPriusToyota PriusJapan, 1997 > present4 series
64 versions
149 photos
2 videos
being the car of this decade so far back in 2010, at the turn of the decade, but the Corolla has a far longer history and it probably embodies the qualities that Japan is famous for more than the more modern upstart.

It is difficult to make the Corolla sound exciting. Indeed, in the most part it isn’t…at all. But it went rallying with the Corolla and in one of motorsport’s most famous moments Carlos Sainz threw his helmet through the rear window of his smouldering Corolla. He can’t really be blamed – he was 500m away from the finishing line and crossing it would have meant his third world rally title. No wonder he was angry.

If Sainz had crossed the finishing line would the dour image of the Corolla have changed all that much? I doubt it, but it proves that Toyota has some engineering clout behind them and that the Corolla was actually a damn good rally car.

And that is what the Corolla is, a very good car indeed. It does all the things that a car needs to and has done consistently since England won the football world cup (and that was an awfully long time ago).

For those of you who can’t remember when England won the world cup it was 1966, meaning the Corolla has been rolling out of the factory for nearly fifty years and the current generation is the 11th of its kind.

The Corolla brand has been built on foundations of reliability and build quality. That could be sniffed at today when we have got so used to cars performing impeccably and with excellent chassis dynamics to boot. But back in the days of British Leyland and the Detroit based manufacturers it is a resounding argument.

That the Corolla is still called by that name when so many others have fallen by the wayside suggests that it still holds plenty of appeal for the Toyota faithful. And, that isn’t just based on sales either. Every time a new car comes out a manufacturer holds focus groups and surveys to assess the quality of its branding – and the name is part of that.

Famously some of them get it very wrong and Toyota has even tried to brand the Corolla as an AurisAurisToyota AurisJapan, 2006 > present3 series
183 versions
282 photos
in England – but how many people actually know what an Auris is? It wouldn’t surprise me to see the Corolla name come back here too.

Who knows whether the Corolla name will endure, and with China entering car production the way it is and VW’s aspirations what they are it is entirely possible that the 32 million Corolla units (and counting) will be usurped from the top of the pile. But it won’t be for a good few years yet.

The inescapable truth is that for most people getting from A-B is the function of a car, and that is what the Corolla does, and has done, more consistently than any other car produced. That is why the Toyota Corolla has to be the car that represents the country that introduced the mass-produced white good.

First Generation - 1966-1970

The Corolla E10 was launched in Japan in November 1966 at a Japanese dealership sales channel called Toyota Corolla Store. Its major competitor was the Datsun 1000, released a few months before the Corolla. It was sold until 1970 in coupé, sedan and station wagon body styles.

Second Generation - 1970-1978

While the original Corolla was a very good, solid and reliable car, many considered it a little too small and underpowered. Toyota quickly recognised the need to make the Corolla larger and endow it with more power. Thus the second generation Corolla arrived in 1970.

Third Generation - 1974-1981

The Third Generation Corolla's were released in 1975, and featured a raised centre section in the grille that carried back to more angular bodies. Now there were a total of five Corolla models available, including two and four door sedans, a 2 door coupe, SR5 sports model and 5 door station wagon.

Fourth Generation - 1979-1984

The fourth-generation model released in 1979 in Japan, and was the last generation to have the entire lineup in rear-wheel-drive configuration. With a new chassis the Corolla was a more sophisticated and satisfying car than any Corolla before it. It also changed from the leaf spring rear suspension to a more compliant coil spring system

Fifth Generation - 1983-1987

The fifth generation is generally regarded as the most popular Corolla when measured against its contemporaries, and some 3.3 million units were produced. This model, from 1983, moved the Corolla into front wheel drive. However, the SR5 Coupe, Liftback and Station Wagon retained the 4th generations rear-drive chassis.

Sixth Generation - 1987-1992

In 1987 Toyota introduced the sixth Corolla generation focusing to reduce sounds that were compounded and felt in the interior and to convert those noises into pleasing sounds. Overall this generation has a more refined feel than older Corollas and other older subcompacts. Most models were now front wheel drive, along with a few 4WD All-Trac models

Seventh Generation - 1991-1998

In June 1991 Corollas received a redesign to be larger, heavier, and have the completely rounded, aerodynamic shape of the 1990s. The Corolla was now in the compact class, rather than subcompact, and the coupe still available known as Corolla Levin AE101.

Eighth Generation - 1995-2002

Introduced in May 1995, the eighth generation shared its platform (and doors, on some models) with its predecessor. Due to a recession, Toyota ordered Corolla development chief Takayasu Honda to cut costs, hence the carry-over engineering. The European three door hatchback was the base for the Corolla World Rally Car (WRC)

Ninth Generation - 2001-2008

In 2001, the ninth-generation Corolla was introduced in Japan, with edgier styling and more technology. It is built on a shortened Toyota Vista platform. Marketed as a premium compact sedan to an affordable hatchback, the Corolla was designed as a 'Global' automobile to suit different market needs, making it one of Toyota's most versatile and most popular models ever.

Tenth Generation - 2006-present

The Corolla E140 is the tenth generation of cars sold by Toyota under the Corolla nameplate. It was launched in 2006 and designed to be sportier, with a larger interior, wider chassis and a more economical and powerful 1.8-liter engine.

 

Other articles from this series:

Countries and their cars: Italy – Ferrari F40
Germany: The car that represents it best - Porsche 911 Turbo
Countries and their cars: USA
Countries and their cars: France

 

Encyclopedia
ToyotaToyota
CorollaCorolla

6 comments

takio
The Corolla probably takes the crown as one of the most reliably unremarkable cars of all time, but the Honda Civic also has a very long and rich history with quite a bit more character, I'd say. Also...
more
20.12.2012 @ 10:10
takio
The Corolla probably takes the crown as one of the most reliably unremarkable cars of all time, but the Honda Civic also has a very long and rich history with quite a bit more character, I'd say. Also...
more
20.12.2012 @ 10:10
takio
The Corolla probably takes the crown as one of the most reliably unremarkable cars of all time, but the Honda Civic also has a very long and rich history with quite a bit more character, I'd say. Also...
more
20.12.2012 @ 10:11
takio
The Corolla probably takes the crown as one of the most reliably unremarkable cars of all time, but the Honda Civic also has a very long and rich history with quite a bit more character, I'd say. Also...
more
20.12.2012 @ 10:12
takio
The Corolla probably takes the crown as one of the most reliably unremarkable cars of all time, but the Honda Civic also has a very long and rich history with quite a bit more character, I'd say. Also...
more
20.12.2012 @ 10:12
takio
The Corolla probably takes the crown as one of the most reliably unremarkable cars of all time, but the Honda Civic also has a very long and rich history with quite a bit more character, I'd say. Also...
more
20.12.2012 @ 10:12
Anonymous

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