Interview with Toyota Corolla’s Chief Engineer – Shinichi Yasui
It was during the 2013 Dubai International Motor Show that we had the opportunity to interview the Chief Engineer of one the most popular cars on our roads, the Toyota Corolla. With the 2014 car being unveiled at the Motor Show, it was a great time to speak with Mr. Shinichi Yasui and find out what changes had been carried out in the all new Corolla.
AME: Good afternoon Mr. Yasui, pleasure meeting you.
Yasui-san: Good afternoon.
AME: Could you please run us through the major changes that have taken place in the 2014 Toyota Corolla?
Yasui-san: The 2014 Toyota Corolla is an all new model and the changes are more than just skin deep. The main focus was improving the design and handling of the car. Though the old Corolla looked good, it lacked the excitement and sporty appeal or Waku-Doki (the feeling of excitement) when compared to one of its biggest competitors, the Hyundai Elantra. Everything that we did in the new Corolla revolved around creating excitement and improve the Corolla experience.
AME: We like the face of the new Corolla and see hints of the Lexus spindle grille. Can we expect this to be the new face for all Toyota models?
Yasui-san: Although we did not look at any Lexus car when designing the new Corolla, I will agree that the nose of the car – the new grille and wrap around headlights are somewhat similar to Lexus spindle grille – which is good. You can expect this new look on other Toyota cars as well in future.
AME: The new Corolla is bigger and more premium than its predecessor, yet you have managed to be competitive in a price sensitive segment of the market.
Yasui-san: The wheelbase in the 2014 Toyota Corolla has been extended by 100mm. Also, the quality of materials have been improved significantly. Yet, we have been able to price it very competitively. The 2014 Corolla is produced in Taiwan. This helps keep prices down due to lower production costs. Despite lower costs, all Toyota plants around the world follow the same production and quality control systems. Therefore we are able to achieve good quality at lower costs.
AME: Have any changes been carried out in the ride and handling department?
Yasui-san: Yes, the extended wheelbase along with the improved suspension setup have improved handling, stability and steering response. The new Corolla is more comfortable, responds better and come with two engine options in the Middle East. Therefore offers more power than before.
AME: What engines can we see on the 2014 Corolla?
Yasui-san: We’ve waved goodbye to the 1.8 litre unit found in the previous Corolla. For 2014, we offer a 1.6 litre or a 2.0 litre option. Both engines come with a 4-speed automatic transmission. The 4-speed gearbox helps keep the weight down and works well with both engines.
AME: We predict the 1.6 litre engine will be more popular amongst fleet buyers while the 2.0 litre will be preferred for personal use. Do you have different trim levels to cater to these needs?
Yasui-san: Yes, we have two grades for the 1.6 litre and 2 grades for the 2.0 litre in order to cater to their needs.
AME: In your opinion, apart from the Hyundai Elantra, which car is considered a competitor to the Toyota Corolla?
Yasui-san: The Ford Focus, Honda Civic and Nissan Sentra.
AME: With no direct competitor to the Nissan Tiida hatchback, can we expect to see a Corolla hatchback soon?
Yasui-san: Although we do have a Corolla hatchback for the European market, there are no plans of bringing it to the Middle East anytime soon.
AME: That would be all, thank you very much.
Yasui-san: You’re welcome.