Toyota Furia sheds light on next Corolla
Photo credit: TOYOTA
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DETROIT -- Toyota offered a vision of its next-generation Corolla sedan that arrives in late 2013 with the unveiling of the Furia concept at the auto show here.
The Furia's wheelbase is four inches longer than that of the outgoing Corolla, and the Furia is two inches longer overall.
Pushing the wheels to the corners typically has advantages in dynamic handling and interior room, but tends to reduce trunk space. Also, the Furia is wider but the outgoing Corolla is taller.
In a statement, Toyota calls the Furia's styling language "iconic dynamism …which uses pure and simple surface elements to create a confident, decisive and recognizable appearance appealing to more youthful consumers."
The success of the Corolla -- Toyota's top-selling model worldwide -- will determine how much the company's sales and profits will grow in coming years.
How close is the Furia to the production Corolla?
Toyota insiders said there will be few changes. In the press materials, photographs show paper license plates that say "Corolla" in large letters, with "Furia Concept" in much smaller type beneath it.
But not everything will reach production.
For instance, the Furia comes with 19-inch wheels, which clearly won't make the cut when the production model arrives. The standard Corolla comes with a choice of 15- or 16-inch wheels.
Critics have noted that the Corolla is emblematic of Toyota's need to move away from dowdy styling, saying that compared with vibrant, newer compact sedans from Ford, Mazda, Hyundai and Kia, the Corolla is downright dreary.
The Corolla is also the oldest model in a U.S. market segment that has been upended by other Asian, U.S., and European rivals.
Bill Fay, group president and general manager of Toyota Motor Sales USA, introduces the Corolla Furia concept Monday at the Detroit auto show.
Photo credit: BLOOMBERG
Akio Toyoda, CEO of Toyota since 2009, is pushing the company to embrace more energetic styling and performance.
Toyota has previously pitched the Corolla as the Lexus of affordable transportation, but that has left its styling well short of the cutting edge.
Now it seems Toyota has determined that younger buyers require more intriguing design.
Toyota sold 290,947 Corollas in 2012, up 21 percent from the year before, when the Japanese tsunami reduced inventory flow.
But it also marked the first time in a decade that it did not lead the compact category, having been outsold by the Honda Civic.
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