We know how good the hatchback and saloon versions of the updated Toyota Corolla are; the Touring Sports estate is all of that, but with a massive boot and more versatility. While, in general, Irish buyers continue to shun estates, the Corolla is the best of Toyota's updated hybrid bunch. Choose the specification carefully, though.
In the metal
This is the best-looking version of the updated Toyota Corolla, and I'll brook no argument on that matter. Yes, I'm biased - I'd always buy an estate much quicker than I'd buy a saloon or hatchback - but in GR Sport spec, with a slightly sportier body kit, bigger 18-inch wheels and a silver body with a contrasting black roof, this is the Corolla in killer spec, visually speaking.
It is also by far the most practical, of course. The Corolla hatch has a 361-litre boot. The saloon accommodates 471 litres. The Touring Sports? A significant 598 litres. Or 1,606 litres if you fold down the back seats. Plus, thanks to an adjustable boot floor, it gets the flat loading floor that the hatch lacks. It's not the biggest boot on offer in the class, but it's more than big enough to make the Corolla Touring Sports a truly practical and useful family car, something you can't quite say about the hatch.
There's also more space in the back seats of the estate thanks to the fact that the Touring Sports is built on a wheelbase that's 100mm longer than that of the hatchback.
Oh, and this GR Sport model - now the most expensive model in the Corolla line-up - is sexier inside. There are part-suede seats, contrasting red stitching everywhere and perforated leather for the steering wheel. Even the digital instrument pack (a new 12.3-inch system that is standard across the range) gets GR Sport-specific graphics (which somehow conspire to look less classy than those of the more basic models).
So, bigger, roomier, more practical, and sportier to look at. A slam-dunk for the GR Sport estate?
The undoing of the GR Sport model seems to be its 18-inch alloy wheels. We've noted in our tests of the updated Corolla hatchback and saloon that they're both prone to tyre rumble if the road surface isn't glassy smooth. In the GR Sport, that rumble is just too loud, even on relatively smooth motorway sections, and it spoils the Corolla's general mien of refinement and comfort.
The ride quality also suffers thanks to the one-inch increase in wheel diameter. It's not shockingly bad or anything, but it lacks the well-damped compliance of the 17-inch shod Corollas, and occasionally bangs and thumps into holes with a distinct lack of decorum.
Is there a big handling benefit to going for the GR Sport? Not really. The steering feels a hair weightier and more responsive, but it's not something that's going to dramatically improve your life or anything. The regular Corolla feels pleasantly sharp to drive, but if this GR Sport model feels a smidge sharper, it's at too much of a cost in refinement.
At least the 1.8 hybrid, now bumped up to 140hp (the old one had 122hp) is the same. It's largely refined and feels more and more like a conventional car to drive. The improved hybrid setup should yield better real-world fuel economy too, and it's better on the motorway than it used to be. We don't get the bigger, more powerful, 2.0-litre engine, but you won't miss it.
What you get for your money
While €40,380 sounds like a lot of money for a Corolla, it does buy you a lot of equipment. Aside from the larger wheels and the handsome GR Sport body kit, you also get heated front seats (with power lumbar adjustment for the driver), front and rear parking sensors, a wireless phone charger, keyless entry and - for this Touring Sports estate - black roof rails. Worth the extra? Not really in my opinion. A €39,980 Touring Sports Sol is still very well-equipped and avoids the refinement issues.
While the GR Sport spec asks too much of the car's refinement to provide not quite enough extra driving thrill, the Touring Sports estate is, without question, the best of the new Toyota Corolla bunch. It's the roomiest overall, it drives with 99 per cent of the same verve as the hatchback and the improved hybrid system is both refined and economical.