Toyota did something really good by creating the hatchback version of their new Corolla. It added a sporty look that the Corolla sedan needed. When we got behind the wheel at the media event, we were surprised by how good it was. Well, it seems Toyota has seen fit to give it a Special Edition treatment in only the car's third year, which is a bit of a surprise (the aging Land Cruiser got the Heritage Edition after almost 70 years).
Despite the fact that the car goes into the 2021 model year without any significant changes, the Special Edition receives a lot of aesthetic upgrades to signify its special designation. As if the bright "Blue Flame" paint on the XSE trimmed version of the Corolla Hatchback wasn't enough, the brand gave the Special Edition "Supersonic Red" for all 1,500 limited-edition versions.
It also gets its own aero effects with a new front spoiler, side skirts, and rear bumper. The black coloring on these additions matches nicely with the new gloss black wheels, bringing some sinister to the Hatchback. The Special Edition also gets black trim around the grille, as well as black trim where a foglight surround would normally exist. Although it doesn't provide any aerodynamic enhancement that we know of, it adds a bit more aggression to the front end.
There are a couple of nitpicks, of course. First of all, there are no power or handling upgrades for the Special Edition. It has the same 2.0-liter naturally-aspirated 4-cylinder engine that delivers 168 horsepower. While it's not a bad engine, it could use more oomph. The worse part is the fact that the Special Edition only comes on the SE trim with the CVT instead of the slightly sportier XSE with its very good manual transmission. We just don't get why Toyota did this. Trim that looks sporty gets mated with a CVT? Granted, the CVT does have a real first gear, but still.
The 2021 Corolla Hatchback line doest get some additions such as rear-seat side-impact airbags. blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert as standard equipment. It also gets options like the new Enhanced Cargo Space Package (no cost) that swaps out the spare tire with a tire repair kit. This package provides additional cargo space under the deck, a nice option. The cargo cubic footage goes from 17 to 23 as a result. Two new paint colors for the 2021 Corolla Hatchback (non-Special Edition) are Magnetic Gray Metallic and Wind Chill Pearl.
No pricing details for the Corolla Hatchback have been revealed yet, but we don't expect much change to the $20,290 base MSRP. The Special Edition sale date will likely be in a few months, but we're thinking not too many folks will rush out to get it. They'll probably wait for the hot hatch version that's rumored to come. Toyota even said, "The 2021 Hatchback Special Edition foreshadows even more excitement still to come in the hatchback segment..." That's good news, indeed.