As a city car, the Corolla is hard to beat. Even the entry-level GL has the 100 kW (135 BHP) engine, pulling a mere 1100 kg, which makes for ample get-up and go.
The gearshift is clunky but precise, and the hydraulic clutch is silky smooth.
Steering is nicely weighted and geared, all-disc brakes are fine, but the ABS is a little over-sensitive. Ride quality is very good, for a light car with conventional strut/torsion beam suspension.
Only major negatives are poor rearward visibility, and a lack of traction in the wet.
On the open road, it's not quite so accomplished. The low gearing makes it feel a little buzzy at 100 kph, although it smooths out by 120. Economy very good, 38.5 MPG (7.5 l/100Km), without trying too hard to be economical. Overtaking is not a problem, plenty of grunt.
Pressing on through the twisties, the steering loads up dramatically, and handling is nowhere as composed as, say, a good Euro hatch. It does its best to dissuade pushing hard.
General comments: Plain inside, but nice dash and white-faced dials. Column stalks have a smooth, quality feel. Seats themselves are comfortable, but the driving position is not tailored to taller people. Rear-seat folding is excellent; just as well, because the boot is smaller than you might expect (only 270 litres). Build quality excellent; looking closely in, around and under, there is nothing remotely dodgy about the design and build. There's even a cabin filter for the ventilation system.
Minimal maintenance, thanks to chain-driven cams, hydraulic lifters, no distributor. Combined with excellent fuel economy, and proven reliability, running costs are low.