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Is The Toyota Corolla A Sports Car? (Answered)

Toyota Corolla needs no introduction; it is often regarded as the best-selling car of all time. But did you ever wonder what type of car it truly is? Some websites term it a sports car, but as we will discover in this article, that is not quite true. In this blog, we’ve used a variety of parameters to accurately determine whether the Toyota Corolla is a sports car or not. If you don’t want to get into the technicalities, here is a short answer for you.

Toyota Corolla is not a sports car because it does not have enough power (90-145 hp) to be classified as one. The initial generations of this car were subcompact cars, while it is now classified as a compact sedan. Apart from a few initial generations that had RWD, most of Toyota Corolla’s models come with FWD, which isn’t a sports car trait.

From 1966 to 2021, we have seen countless models of Toyota Corolla roaming the streets. With every new generation, Toyota has introduced a Corolla model with better specs. Therefore, we have examined different generations of Toyota Corolla to reach a more valid answer. We have used engine power, performance, drive system, and design to determine the true type of Toyota Corolla.

Also read: How Well Does A Toyota Corolla Drive In The Snow? (Answered)

Power

Let us start by taking the most obvious factor into account: engine power. The is important because sports cars are defined as “powerful cars with low weight.” This means that it must have an above-average power level for a car to be classified as a sports car.

It is pertinent to mention that power is not always the decisive factor. We have several cars, such as Mazda MX5, which has a low power level (181 hp), but it is a true sports car. Similarly, we have Dodge Chancellor at 492 hp – yet it is not a sports car; it is a muscle car.

So, the next logical question arises: What should be the value of engine power for a car to be classified as a sports car? Unfortunately, there is no exact answer for that. There is no research journal or automobile catalog that has listed any such value. However, after undertaking some meticulous research and evaluating the power levels of several sports cars, we have found a value. Typically, sports cars have engine power greater than 150 hp. Let us put Toyota Corolla to the test and see whether it fulfills this criterion or not.

The following table enlists the power range of each generation of Toyota Corolla.

GenerationPower Level
1st Gen (1967-70)60 – 65 hp
2nd Gen (1970-78)55 – 75 hp
3rd Gen (1975-79)55 – 108 hp
4th Gen (1979-86)60 – 110 hp
5th Gen (1983-87)58 – 130 hp
6th Gen (1987-95)64 – 165 hp
7th Gen (1992-97)72 – 117 hp
8th Gen (1997-2002)69 – 125 hp
9th Gen (2001-04)90 – 192 hp
10th Gen (2004-09)90 – 224 hp
11th Gen (2007-13)110 – 160 hp
12th Gen (2013-present)90 – 145 hp

There are a few models of Toyota Corolla that have a power level higher than 150 hp. In many cases, We cannot use power alone to determine the true class of a car. Therefore, we move to another metric: power-to-weight ratio. In our previous articles, we found that sports cars have a power-to-weight ratio greater than 0.07. After calculating the power-to-weight ratio of these models, we see that not a single model has a power-to-weight ratio greater than 0.07. Therefore, based on this factor, Toyota Corolla is not a sports car.

Also read: Types Of Fuel A Toyota Corolla Uses (All Generations)

Performance

What truly separates a sports car from a normal car is its performance level. High-end sports cars boast impressive speed and acceleration, coupled with sharp handling. We can examine the performance level of the Toyota Corolla to determine whether it is a sports car or not.

Sports cars usually have a top speed greater than 140 mph. We will use this value as a threshold for Toyota Corolla to be classified as a sports car. 

ModelMPH
1966 TOYOTA COROLLA E1087 mph
1970 TOYOTA COROLLA E2091 mph
1974 TOYOTA COROLLA 30 STANDARD 120093 mph
1979 TOYOTA COROLLA 130097 mph
1983 TOYOTA COROLLA 1600112 mph
1990 TOYOTA COROLLA 1300106 mph
1997 TOYOTA COROLLA G6109 mph
2002 TOYOTA COROLLA 1.6 VVT-I115 mph
2003 TOYOTA COROLLA SPORTIVO120 mph
2006 TOYOTA COROLLA D-4D 90124 mph
2012 TOYOTA COROLLA HATCH 122 mph
2020 TOYOTA COROLLA 2.0 XR CVT123 mph

It is evident from the table that none of the generations has a top speed greater than 140 mph. Thus, according to this merit, Toyota Corolla is not a sports car.

Also read: Toyota Corolla Transmissions: Overview, Problems, Fluids

Drive System

The third factor that we will be examining is the drive system used in a Toyota Corolla. A general rule of thumb is that sports cars are equipped with rear-wheel drive. There are several reasons for this. RWD allows you to drift easily, and it offers the exciting “thrill of the drive” that other drive systems lack. Also, in this drive system, the weight is evenly distributed between the rear and the front. This makes the car more stable and allows the driver to take sharp turns without the fear of tripping over.

In the latest generations, Toyota Corolla has an FWD system. Contrary to popular belief, this has not always been the case. Toyota Corolla used to be equipped with an RWD until its fifth generation (AE86). However, since the FWD system is more cost-effective to install, Corolla was never meant to be a performance car, so Toyota Motors decided to part ways with RWD. After the 5th generation, Toyota Corolla has always been equipped with an FWD system, which is not likely to change anytime soon.

However, we would like to clarify that having front-wheel drive does not necessarily mean that a car is not a sports car. For example, in this article, we already looked at the Honda Civic, and we concluded that despite having FWD, some models of Honda Civic are sports cars.

Also read: The Expected Mileage Of A Toyota Corolla

Design

Finally, moving on to the most important factor. The design of a car is what truly differentiates a normal car from a sports car. Several cars possess engine specs and a performance level similar to a sports car, but they don’t have the sleek and aerodynamic design. This prevents them from being classified as sports cars.

The main emphasis in designing a sports car is on three things: reducing drag, enhancing handling, and providing high maneuverability. This way, a sports car can attain high speed in less time, leading to faster acceleration. These factors also allow sports cars to take sharp turns efficiently. Therefore, sports cars are designed to be aerodynamic and close to the ground. As far as body style is concerned, sports cars come in 2-door body coupe.

When we look at the Toyota Corolla, it is obvious that it does not fulfill any of these criteria. It is not a 2-door body coupe; it mainly comes in sedan or hatchback body styles. It is not a low car; it has a ground clearance of 6.7 inches. This is much higher than the average ground clearance for sports cars that is 5.1 inches.

Out of all of the models of Toyota Corolla, Toyota Corolla Sport is the closest to a sports car. Its design and engine specs closely mimic a sports car. Although this car comes with a forward-wheel drive, hatchback body style, and a meager power level of 169 hp, its performance level is close to that of a sports car. But even calling this model a sports car would be a stretch. At best, this model can be called a sports compact.

So, what’s the conclusion here? According to these parameters, Toyota Corolla is not a sports car, but it is a compact car. It does not boast the engine specs, power-to-weight ratio, or design of a sports car. Only the latest model of this car can be categorized as sports compact. The remaining generations fit well in the category of compact cars, although they still boast high performance.

Also read: Is The Chevy Camaro A Sports Or Muscle Car?

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