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Japan now gets new hybrid versions of the Toyota Corolla Axio (sedan) and Fielder (estate). They become the first Corolla-badged models to offer a hybrid powertrain, as the Auris hatchback and Estate have now dropped the Corolla nameplate.

Both models share the same hybrid powertrain found in the Prius c – a 73 PS/111 Nm Atkinson-cycle 1.5 litre petrol engine backed up by a 61 PS/169 Nm electric motor. Combined system output is rated at 101 PS, and its claimed economy figure is 33.3 km per litre, compared to the Prius c’s 35.4 km/L (both figures measured under the JC08 test cycle).

It uses a Nickel-Metal Hydride battery pack placed under the rear seats. Toyota is late to the game with Lithium-Ion batteries – as of now, only the Prius Plug-in Hybrid, RAV4 EV and European-market Prius+ use the newer, more efficient technology. The latest Honda Civic Hybrid and CR-Z are already using Lithium-Ion batteries.

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On the outside the Corolla Axio and Fielder Hybrid are differentiated from its standard siblings by a new front grille with “Synergy Blue” emblems and an exclusive Light Blue Metallic colour option. Inside, there’s a new 4.2-inch colour screen on the instrument cluster to show all the necessary hybrid displays.

The new hybrid Corolla Axio and Fielder models command a 20% premium over the standard petrol-powered variants, and are positioned between the Prius and Aqua (Prius c) in Toyota’s hybrid lineup. As it is, hybrids account for around 40% of Toyota’s domestic sales – a number that is bound to rise as the company starts to offer new petrol-electric variants of its standard models.

This won’t be the new Corolla that we will get (that’ll be the ASEAN/European 2014 Toyota Corolla), but a hybrid option for the Toyota staple sedan sure sounds good, doesn’t it?