Toyota Corolla is world’s most successful vehicle having sold more than 44.3 million units since it was first introduced in the 1960s. Corolla is also the longest running nameplate in the history of automobiles, and is also the global leader in vehicle sales each year.
Toyota Corolla is also the highest selling car in Pakistan and not just this, Pakistan also has the highest Corolla sales in the Asia Pacific region while ranks 4th in the world in terms of sales volume.
Each generation of Toyota Corolla has seen tremendous success in our market, be it the imported models from the 1970s and 80s or the local assembled versions since the early 90s. However if we observe, the bulk of the Corolla sales in our market are the 1.3 liter variants, among which the base X grade remains extremely popular. A better equipped G grade is also available in Corolla lineup, which is doing rather well particularly in the recent Corolla generations in Pakistan.
Since long Toyota has used the X lettering to represent the basic Corolla models. In 70s and 80s it used to be called DX, however 90s onward its either XE, XLE, XLi or simply X depending on the market where its sold. Although these models offer the same reliability Toyota is known for, they are a compromise over features & equipment on offer. But it doesn’t really matter since these models have enjoyed some fantastic sales over the period, especially in our market.
The 7th gen was the first locally assembled Corolla to roll off the Indus Motors assembly line in Pakistan in 1993. With a 20 unit per day production back then, the 7th gen Corolla was launched with 1.3 liter carburetor engine and was initially available in 5 non-metallic colors. Available trims were XE and GL, whereas diesel versions were also introduced a couple of years later.
Being the base version, the 7th gen Corolla XE came equipped with black bumpers and missed out RPM meter, power windows and rear garnish. The XE had a 2-spoke steering wheel & came without wheel caps and had simple hubcaps on plain steel wheels. On the other hand the GL trim was equipped with air-condition, RPM meter, 3-spoke steering wheel, better seat upholstery, power windows, matching bumpers, rear garnish and full wheel caps.
The XE remained the volume seller among the available 7th gen Corolla trims. However people believed it looked rather incomplete particularly on the outside when it came with black bumpers and came without rear garnishing. The GL and other better trims had a full reflector at the back connecting both the taillights, which Indus Motors used to call rear garnish. The XE didn’t have this, and had a plain grey pane instead.
So catering to the demands, Indus Motors towards 1999 offered a better base trim, called as the XEG. As it offered matching bumpers and rear garnishing and while being short in equipment, matched the looks of the up-spec trims efficiently.
In 2002, Indus Motors finally bid farewell to the 7th generation Corolla after a 9-year long production period and introduced the 9th generation Corolla as a replacement. The 7th gen 1.3 liter variants had a 2E carburetor engine under the hood, while the 9th gen had a 1.3 liter 2NZ-FE fuel injected unit. The 1.3 liter variants were now called XLi and GLi.
This was the generation when the base XLi was much more popular than the GLi even when it had little to offer in terms of features & equipment. Compared to the GLi, the 9th gen XLi had no power windows & ABS but was visually very much identical to the up-spec variants, contrary to the 7th gen XE which deliberately looked bland.
The 9th gen Corolla XLi was the hot favorite car of its time, used extensively as cabs & a prime choice for rent-a-car businesses. Furthermore the car financing was very much relaxed in that era which resulted in bulk loads of deliveries of these base Corolla variants. Although the local assembled XLi was attributed for below-par quality and miserable braking capabilities due to lack of ABS, narrow tires and enhanced ground clearance by Indus Motors, still it was the hot selling trim among all available 9th gen Corollas.
Then came the 10th gen Corolla in 2008. With this generation the Corolla became bulkier as it grew in size but retained the tried & tested 1.3 liter 2NZ-FE engine under its hood. A year later in 2009, the Corolla became the highest selling car in Pakistan beating the eternal Suzuki Mehran. And once again the 1.3 liter Corolla variants had the lion’s share in sales, though with this generation the GLi started to become as popular as the XLi versions. The 10th gen Corolla XLi still missed out on power windows and ABS however just as the 9th gen, it was visually much identical to the up-spec trims.
The 11th gen Corolla was introduced here in 2014 however this time the 1.3 liter GLi took away the major chunk of sales compared to the XLi. One of the main reasons was the availability of an automatic transmission with the 1.3 liter Corolla GLi, something that wasn’t on offer with the previous generation GLi and something that XLi missed. However recently Indus Motors have started to offer a 4-speed automatic transmission with the 11th gen XLi, the first time in the cheapest Corolla trim.
And it’s not just the locally assembled Corolla, the X has been popular in imported JDM versions of Toyota Corolla too. Particularly the 9th gen Corolla X Assista Package and the 10th gen Corolla Axio X.
Pakistan is the only country in the world where the Corolla is available with a 1.3 liter engine, everywhere else its 1.5 liter & above. The reason people buy the Corolla 1.3 in Pakistan is that they get a large body sedan with the tax structure of a sub-compact saloon. Basically a car that has a body and suspension of a 25 lac Altis Grande but costs almost as low as an 18 lac Honda City, charming isn’t it?
There were reports regarding the introduction of Toyota Vios as a replacement of 1.3 liter Corolla XLi and GLi in Pakistan, however Indus Motors have reportedly deferred those plans. The XLi and GLi together, have the highest number of sales among all Corolla variants in Pakistan and will continue to be successful as long as there is no direct competitor in the market.
Have you even owned a based grade 1.3 liter Corolla X/XE/XLi? Let us know with your ownership experience.
A 3d animation professional with over 20 years of industry experience having served in leading organizations & production facilities of Pakistan, an avid car enthusiast and petrolhead with an affection to deliver writings to help shape opinions. Formerly written for PakWheels as well as major publications including Dawn. Founder of CarSpiritPK.com