Early March saw the unveiling of the new third-generation Toyota Auris, and now it’s the turn of its American twin, the Corolla Hatchback, to take to the spotlight. The new five-door, which will debut at the New York International Auto Show (NYIAS) and replace the Corolla iM, will come with a different engine and transmission options compared to its European sibling.

As with the Auris, the Corolla Hatchback rides on the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA). It measures 40 mm longer than before at 4,370 mm, with all of it going to the 2,640 mm wheelbase; the front overhang is also 20 mm shorter. The car is also 30 mm wider (1,790 mm) and 25 mm lower (1,450 mm), while the cowl is now a massive 47 mm lower, resulting in a lower bonnet, a sleeker shape and better outward visibility.

The Auris’ extroverted exterior design, a development of the company’s Keen Look and Under Priority design language, has been left intact. The front end features a narrow upper grille flanked by J-shaped full-LED headlights that wrap deep into the front fenders. They are underscored by the massive trapezoidal lower grille that projects further out from the curved edge of the flatter clamshell bonnet.

Along the side, the beltline kinks upwards towards the rear for a more dynamic look. The rear is more rounded and has a more compact look, thanks to the faster rear windscreen rake and prominent haunches above the rear wheel arches, while the light guides of the full-LED tail lights emphasise the car’s extra width. The tailgate is made from Toyota Super Olefin Polymer (TSOP) and ABS plastic to reduce weight.

Buyers can choose from seven colours, including the new Rival Blue as well as Blizzard Pearl, Silver Metallic, Midnight Black, Galactic Aqua Mica, Scarlet, and Oxide Bronze. Unlike the Auris, the Corolla Hatchback is not available in a two-tone paint scheme.

We get our first look of the car’s interior here – similar to the C-HR crossover, the Corolla Hatchback’s dashboard has a layered design with a floating infotainment system, and Toyota claims that the lower profile of the upper dashboard and the wider centre console provides an open, harmonious feel.

Matte silver and piano black accents, coupled with optional contrast stitching, add a premium look and feel, while more uniform materials and the removal of unnecessary switchgear lettering contribute to a cleaner design. Toyota has also expended effort to improve tactility and minimise panel gaps.

The centre console has been made longer to better accommodate a wider variety of physiques, and comes complete with a centre tray available with Qi wireless charging. The front hip point has also been lowered and the cushioning of the seats revised, providing a more natural posture and a better driving position together with the steering wheel, gearlever and pedals.

Standard equipment is vast, with the base SE model coming with 16-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry, single-zone automatic climate control, paddle shifters, an electronic parking brake and two front USB outlets. Move up to the top XSE and you get a chrome front grille, LED fog lights and 18-inch alloys.

Also thrown in are dual-zone climate control, leather-and-fabric upholstery, heated front seats, an eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, dash and door stitching and a seven-inch multi-info display. The XSE CVT model comes with adaptive headlights as well.

For infotainment, the Entire 3.0 Audio system comes as standard with an eight-inch touchscreen, Entire 3.0 App Suite Connect, Safety Connect, WiFi, voice recognition, Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa personal assistant integration and six speakers. The XSE gets the Audio Plus system with HD Radio, weather and traffic information, SiriusXM, Entune 3.0 Connected Services, Service Connect and Remote Connect.

The range-topping Audio Premium system is optional on the XSE CVT, and that bundles in all the aforementioned features together with dynamic navigation and POI search, Destination Assist Connect, dynamic voice recognition and an eight-speaker, 800-watt JBL sound system with Clari-Fi.

Whereas the Auris is offered with either a 1.2 litre turbocharged petrol engine or a 1.8 litre or 2.0 litre hybrid, the Corolla Hatchback will be available with just one engine at launch – the new M20A-FKS 2.0 litre Dynamic Force naturally-aspirated four-cylinder petrol. Physically lighter and smaller than the previous 1.8 litre engine, it comes with D-4S direct injection and VVT-iE electric variable valve timing.

The new engine is quieter, cleaner, more powerful and more fuel efficient than before, although Toyota has yet to release output figures or any other numbers at this moment. Transmissions include a new Direct Shift CVT – with a launch gear for better low-speed efficiency and a wider ratio spread – as well as a six-speed Intelligent Manual Transmission (iMT) with automatic rev-matching.

Under the skin, the Corolla Hatchback’s compact TNGA C platform employs a mix of adhesives, spot welding and additional bracing for improved controllability. An extensive use of aluminium and high- and ultra-high-tensile steel also ensures a low weight while also bumping up torsional rigidity by a whole 60%, benefiting both fuel efficiency and on-road feel.

The front MacPherson strut suspension has revised geometry and other key changes such as new spring and damper rates and reduced friction in sliding parts, providing a high quality of ride, handling stability and steering feel. At the rear of the car, the multi-link suspension gets updated spring and dampers and modified geometry. All these changes result in 40% lower friction and a 20 mm lower centre of gravity.

Refinement is another area that has been given a once over, with revised drivetrain efficiencies and increased use of sound insulation, sealants, foams resonator ribs and silencers reducing powertrain drone and road noise. Additional seals in the body panel gaps provide additional noise insulation and enhance air sealing performance, while aero fins in the tail lights reduce wind noise.

Last but not least, safety. The Corolla Hatchback comes as standard with the second-generation Toyota Safety Sense (TSS) system, incorporating Pre-Collision System autonomous braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, full-speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC), Lane Departure Alert (LDA) with steering assist, Automatic High Beam (AHB) and the new Lane Tracing Assist (LTA). There’s also a standard reverse camera, while Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM) is fitted on the XSE variant.