This car is not as bad as people claim. It does require some time to get used to. The gear shifting is notchy, valve "lift" (Toyota version of VTEC) is too far away (at 6200 RPM) and it revs to ~8200 RPM until the limiter and needs to be shifted very swiftly if you want to get straight into the "lift" zone in an upper gear. The clutch bites late and the pedal travel is too short and is too light. You really need to concentrate and have proper footwear to feel the car. Most TS Corollas have worn out engine mounts because of dodgy shifting, and stretched accelerator cables due to that. Shifting must be very well planned and rev matched at around 3K RPM if you want to operate this car smoothly in the city. Highway travel is OK, but very noisy due to high revs with the short six speed gearbox.
But then, there is the good part. Fuel consumption is really surprisingly good - around 8,3 liters per 100 km of mixed driving with occasional acceleration up to the "lift" and beyond. The engine itself proves to be very flexible, towing itself even uphill in any gear starting from 1,2K RPM. There is a lot of body roll because of the car's height, however it can really handle with its regular shock absorbers and stiff spring combination provided by Toyota without losing the comfort. The gaps between the arches do not make this car any prettier, but it's good for city driving around the curbs.
Then there's acceleration - 6,6 secs to 100km/h (with traction control off) instead of the official ~8 to 100! I can easily keep up with 535d Beemers while looking at their funny faces, and I'm able to beat EP3 Civics!
The downsides of this car are: a notchy gearbox that often requires a double clutch press when the gearbox is cold to let the disc go and to shift properly when the revs are matched, corrosion on a bruised body, and not that pretty gap between the wheel and the arch.
Good things: great acceleration (although you need to watch the speedo because the lack of torque does not make you feel acceleration that much), absolute reliability (just give it the oil it needs like 5w40 or 10w40, but not too dense as it's not good for the valvetrain, and not 0w20 or any other fancy watery liquid, and this engine will outlive you).
The car is very roomy too and has the best A/C I ever had on a car. The 55 liter fuel tank gives you a range of around 600-650 km in mixed conditions, and the ride component quality and geometry is top notch as it holds all the bumps without any problems requiring fixing.
It's the best hot hatch for money it's worth. It's not as great to drive as a Civic Type R, but it's a better allrounder and it's cheaper, and most important of all, it's far more reliable than any Renault/Peugeot/Ford or even VW.