It's not really news that the all-new Toyota Corolla Altis is coming very soon.

Thailand is about to launch the 12th generation model this month, and it stands to reason that the Philippine launch is also forthcoming, following reports by other sites that there are actually some units in the country (already).

But we just got hold of some details about that all new Corolla Altis, and there's a surprise in store: our source says that the 2020 Toyota Corolla Altis will finally be offered with a hybrid powertrain. Yes, you read that correctly.

Toyota will be launching the new generation TNGA-platform Corolla with three engine choices: 1.6-liter inline-4, 1.8-liter inline-4, and the 1.8-liter Atkinson inline 4 hybrid.

Toyota will sell 2020 Corolla Altis Hybrid in the Philippines image

The base units will be powered by the 1ZR-FAE 1.6-liter Dual VVT-i engine which will have 132 PS at a fairly high 6400 rpm and 156 Nm at 4200 rpm. The new power unit is more powerful and has more torque than the current 1.6L which has 122 PS and 154 Nm. We're still unclear which gearbox choices will be available, but the units will be manufactured in Thailand, and it stands to reason that it could be offered with the 6-speed manual or the CVT.

The top-spec petrol units will not be a 2.0-liter, as Toyota has instead opted for the smaller 2ZR-FE 1.8-liter that makes 140 PS and 173 Nm of torque. As expected, the 1.8L has less power and torque compared to the 2.0L which in the current model makes 145 PS and 187 Nm. The new 1.8 Corolla Altis is expected to have the new transmission called the Super CVT-i which will have G AI Shift Control and paddle shifters.

The real kicker is that we didn't expect Toyota to launch the hybrid version of the Thai-made Corolla Altis. The powertrain of that model is virtually the same as the Prius, but in the more widely appealing Corolla Altis package. It will have an efficient 1.8-liter 2ZR-FXE engine that runs on the Atkinson cycle, meaning it produces much less power than the standard Otto cycle 1.8-liter 2ZR-FE. The Atkinson engine makes just 98 PS and 142 Nm, but is far more efficient for charging the electric drive system.

Toyota Corolla Alti Hybrid image

The key to the hybrid is its 600-volt electric motor that provides another 72 PS of power (combined with gasoline: 170 PS) and another 163 Nm of torque (combined with 1.8L: 305 Nm). The system will have a nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) battery unit which will be charged by the gasoline engine and regenerative braking, allowing the Corolla Altis to drive on battery power alone if there is charge available.

Unlike electric vehicles, the Corolla Hybrid will not require any special plug-in hardware like expensive chargers.

Our contact also tells us that the Corolla Hybrid will have Toyota Safety Sense that has a pre-collision system. It can detect other vehicles, but is not the version that can detect pedestrians, bicycles and motorcycles.

Toyota will sell 2020 Corolla Altis Hybrid in the Philippines image

It's no secret that Toyota Motor Philippines has been keen on boosting the awareness and sales of their gas-electric hybrid models as evidenced by the company holding a series of conferences to promote hybrids. The company has also been holding school tours to showcase the technology to students and the academe. Launching the hybrid version of the Corolla Altis will be key to that mission.

According to our source, the price range for the Corolla will be somewhere around PhP 1 million to around PhP 1.6 million. The Corolla Hybrid will be priced between PhP 1.5 to PhP 1.6 million; pricing, we've been told, has not been finalized.

The reason the price of this Toyota hybrid is much lower is because it will be manufactured in Thailand, not Japan. That means the Corolla Altis Hybrid will benefit from the ASEAN Free Trade Area, along with the 50% excise tax discount for hybrids under the TRAIN tax reform law. The Japan made Prius and Prius C do not qualify for any special benefits under JPEPA, as the engine size isn't anywhere near the 3.0-liter requirement. Some Lexus hybrids which have 3.5-liter engine units do qualify for JPEPA, though. 

Thanks to AFTA, the Corolla Hybrid will be the most affordable gas-electric hybrid in the Toyota line up once they launch it, undercutting the Prius which is priced at PhP 2.289 million as well as the much smaller Prius C priced at PhP 1.907 million.