Toyota knows it's not even worth trying.
Whether you call them station wagons or shooting brakes, the segment simply isn’t popular in the US any longer. Of course trends can and do change, but given America’s clear preference for crossovers over traditional sedans and hatchbacks, a wagon revival is not expected. And that’s kind of a shame because the new 2019 Toyota Corolla Sports Touring is perhaps one of the hidden gems of the Japanese automaker’s lineup. Designed and engineered in mostly in Europe for European customers only, the Corolla Sports Touring replaces the Auris and is built on the automaker’s global TNGA platform.
We chatted with the new wagon’s chief engineer, Yasushi Ueda, at this year’s Paris Motor Show and were surprised to learn just how much time and thought went into what’s essentially a stretched version of the new Corolla hatchback America will be able to buy.
“The European customer tends to put a lot of stuff in the cargo space but we also studied what kind of stuff exactly. For example, big boxes and mountain bikes. It was designed for customers with an active lifestyle.” But unlike say, a Subaru Impreza hatchback, the Corolla Touring Sports will be front-wheel drive only. And that’s okay because this wagon has some sports car inspiration.
For example, it features McPherson front struts, a multi-link rear suspension, new shock absorber technology, and even an adaptive variable suspension. It’s certainly not your typical old-school American wagon. “We know our European customers enjoy a certain type of driving feel and we developed a car that will satisfy them.”
Aside from body style, another department where the Corolla Touring Sports differs from the hatchback are its engines. There are three options: a 1.2-liter turbo gasoline engine with 144 hp and a pair of hybrids, a 1.8-liter and 2.0-liter with 120 hp and 178 hp, respectively. The US-spec Corolla hatch has a 168 hp 2.0-liter gasoline engine only.
“We specifically benchmarked Volkswagen Golf and Honda Civic wagons.” And no, Toyota has no plans to offer a hotter version. “We engineered the Corolla Touring Sports to a certain level that will offer sufficient driving pleasure for its segment.”
While America is becoming a country dominated by crossovers, it’s nice knowing alternative body styles like affordable sport wagons exist elsewhere. Ueda-san confirmed there are no plans to bring the Corolla Sports Touring stateside.