Stylish, efficient, practical and comfortable, the Altis has always been the standard setter for the class to follow. Now, after a mid life refresh, the Toyota Corolla Altis is ready for the challenge of the new year.

From the outside, they've made a few significant changes to the look of the car. A more aggressive, sportier front bumper takes the place of the old, docile one, while sharper, more prominent headlamps finish off the new look. In the back there's a new rear bumper, along with redesigned taillamps and chrome embellishments, all of which are complemented by new 16 inch wheels.

Inside, it's very similar to the outgoing model, though with some improvements on fit and finish and equipment. A new steering wheel replaces the old one, making it more reminiscent of the Camry's. Behind the new steering wheel is a pair of paddle shifters, while the old glossy faux wood panels have been swapped out for a set of classier matte faux wood, giving a better quality feel. Some may say that being one of the two range topping models of the Altis that this one should have leather seats, but personally I prefer the fabric ones in our tropical temperatures.

Features wise, this 1.6V has pretty much everything you need. The AM, FM, CD, MP3 stereo system gets an auxiliary-input port, and has 6 speakers for full audio, while for maximum comfort there's a fully automatic climate control system to keep the cabin temperatures in check. For convenience, Toyota outfitted the Altis with a full suite of motorized features with power windows, locks and mirrors, a smart key transponder (for push start convenience), steering wheel audio controls as well as a Bluetooth handsfree compatibility.

At the heart of the new Corolla Altis is a new range of powerplants. When I tried out the first version of this Altis, launched in 2008, I've always remarked how much the 1.6 liter model feels better than the original 1.8 liter version. This particular version has the new 1.6 liter engine which, when combined with the new Dual VVT-i system, is now capable of 122 horsepower and 154 Nm of torque.

The only mark for improvement that I feel the 1.6V needs is the new 6-speed CVT that debuted with the 2.0L model, as the old 4-speed automatic just feels okay amongst the rest of the competition, most of which offer better and more efficient transmission choices. Besides, the paddle shifters would make more sense with 5 or more gears to choose from. Another possible improvement should be focused on tire noise, as it can get a little noisy at highway speeds or less-than-desirable road surfaces. As it stands, the 1.6V returns 10.5 km/l in city driving (light to moderate traffic) and 15.4 kilometers per liter on steady highway driving (100 km/h average), pretty good figures considering how much fuel is nowadays.

With these and more, the Altis 1.6V is still the great car it is. There is still some areas for improvement, but at PhP 970,000, it's still every bit the attractive buy as it was before.
  • Make:Toyota
  • Model:Corolla Altis 1.6V
  • Engine:1.6L DOHC 16-valve Inline-4 Dual VVT-i
  • Max Power:122 PS @ 6000 rpm
  • Max Torque:154 Nm @ 5200 rpm
  • Transmission:4-Speed A/T
  • Price as Tested: