The new Toyota Corolla has just been launched in Malaysia, so what’s this taped-up car about? Spotted by reader JohnnyBoy in Iskandar Puteri, Johor, this is clearly the Toyota Corolla Hybrid. We can tell by the blue tint in the front Toyota emblem, and the matching blue accent in the headlamps.

Long hybrid-shaped badges can be found covered on the front wings and boot lid. There are pics of the cabin too, and zooming into the dashboard shot reveals an EV Mode button ahead of the gear lever – located next to the VSC and Drive Mode buttons, this button is left blank in our regular Corolla 1.8G.

You also don’t need to be a detective to find the owner of this Corolla Hybrid, as it wears UMW Toyota Motor (UMWT) license plate holders. The interior pic also shows UMWT’s regular 2-DIN touchscreen head unit that leaves a very thick bezel on the dashboard’s centre screen holder, as seen on just-launched car.

In Thailand, Toyota sells the Corolla in 1.6L, 1.8L and Hybrid forms. The Corolla Hybrid uses the 2ZR-FXE Atkinson-cycle version of the familiar 1.8 litre NA engine that churns out 98 PS at 5,200 rpm and 142 Nm at 3,600 rpm. Paired to a 72 PS/122 Nm electric motor and CVT, total system output is 122 PS.

Head unit aside, the car here appears close in spec to the Thai Corolla Hybrid High, as only the range topper there gets the full Toyota Safety Sense suite of driver assists. The camera on top of the windscreen and the buttons on the right steering spoke are TSS components.

So, is UMWT gearing up for the debut of the Corolla Hybrid so soon after launching the new Corolla? There might well be plans, but our guess is that for now, this is just an evaluation unit.

As with other brands with hybrids in their portfolio, they’ll have to make a case for local assembly for the hybrid to be priced competitively, and Malaysians are used to hybrids being value champions of the range. Currently, even the regular Corolla is a CBU import from Thailand, so we won’t be holding our breath.

But should it happen, and if UMWT can muster a good price for the Corolla Hybrid, it might be an interesting C-segment option as there’s no hybrid offering between the Honda Civic and Mazda 3. Also, RON 95 petrol prices will be floated next year, so a car with good FC would be “more valuable” moving forward.

What do you think? Full local launch report of the new Toyota Corolla here.


GALLERY: Toyota Corolla 1.8G in Malaysia