Car review – Toyota Corolla Altis 2002

Posted: 14th March 2008 by Jacky Yong in Cars
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The Altis was launched in Malaysia in 2001 as a new rebranding of the ever famous Corolla model. It brings over the proven record of comfort and reliability that has associated itself with the name Toyota. This is a 1.8G spec, ZZE122, meaning the full spec, with all the bells and whistles. Compared to the E spec, this particular spec has got gated automatic shift stick, Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), optitron meter among others.

The particular model that I have driven is the 2002 model, 1.8G spec. Brilliant car it is! Let’s go over the details one by one. We’ll start from the outside.

The owner has fitted wing mirrors with signal indicators, something that is not found in other Altises for this particular year:

Despite aging at 6 years, this car is still quite modern in its design. A view from the rear still has the menacing stance associated with newer cars.

In its flesh, the car is solid and well-built. A well-known criteria for measuring well-built-ness is the sound of the door when it is closed. An assuring thud instead of the Milo-tin-can sound of the Proton is heard.

Let’s go to the highlight of the car, the interior.

This is the sight that greets you as you open the door to the cabin.

The plush interior contains things that are designed with all the critter comfort in mind. Seats with lumbar support, soft cushions, inviting controls, user-friendly dials, one-touch door lock, power wing mirrors. Best of all, the power window works! (Sorry, I got carried away after driving the Iswara for so long!) The driver sits very high up, I can swear I can almost look inside other vehicle’s occupant and see what colour of their pants is! Perhaps too, this contributes a lot to the superiority complex when I drive this car. When I drive the Proton, I always feel inferior compared to a Beemer or a Merc! 🙁 No such thing with this baby!

Gated gear stick! In operation, the gear is smooth and very intuitive. You will not accidentally shift into R or other lower gears while driving. It requires a conscious effort to do that. However, this being such a quiet car, there is virtually no difference between N and D in terms or NVH (Noise, Vibration and Harshness). I find myself having to look at the meter to know which gear I am now, something that does not happen in the old Wira Automatic. It’s a good thing, trust me. 🙂

How is the engine like? With 132 horses inside this baby, there is plenty of pented-up power waiting to be unleashed. In operation, the car response immediately at the lightest touch to the throttle. Needs some getting used to! The sound of the engine can get very loud at high rev due to the inherent use of steel chain instead of the traditional rubber timing belt in most other cars. However the noise is seldom felt as I rarely have the need to go over 4000 rpm.

The tyre is a 195 / 60 / 15 inch measurement, and it is a very rare combination. Not good, very limited tyre choice.

One thing that has been discussed over and over again with this car is its cornering ability, or the lack of it. The car handles very poorly when pushed hard. I took this car for a spin along the Cyberjaya routes. Though the power is there, the car hesitates a little when rounding a corner. I artificial induced kick-down by shifting to 3rd gear, and the car jerked as if the power to the wheels were cut off. The VSC in action perhaps? To be honest, the Wira handles brilliantly round corners, and in this aspect, the Wira 1.5 automatic wins hands down! However there is one rare occasion when I just threw caution to the wind and pushed this baby to the limit. At the big round SKVE interchange towards my home, I entered the corner at 90km/h, grabbed the steering tightly, and tapped slightly on the throttle. I managed to screech the tyre slightly, but nothing more than that. No doubt the body roll is felt, but the car went into a controllable understeer. The tyres did not lose that much of grip, probably the works of the VSC or the TRC. I dare not try with either of them turned off. Let’s just leave the experiment to the professional shall we?

Fuel consumption is great too. For a 1.8 litre engine, it clocks 500 km for a RM73 worth of petrol. (assuming petrol price is still RM1.92 per litre) Not bad, when the Wira 1.5 A only gets 350 km for a similar tankful value! Highway trips are great, since the NVH is way better than the Wira, minimizing fatigue to the driver and passengers. Going at 150 km/h and above is easily achievable. (Whoops, don’t report me to the police okay?) The car handles with full confidence at high speed.

All in all, the Altis is a great car. For such an old car, it still commands a very high price in the 2nd hand car market, when other cars of other marques (Nissan, Ford, Honda) depreciated much more. Being a Toyota, reliability is never a question. This car will always deserve a special place in my heart.

More pictures here.

  1. Seehow Lim says:

    Hey Jacky,
    Thanks for your respond. My deal already ON, I’m using my Altis now for more than a month already. Feel great with the car at many way, performance, style, look, safety and price (and many many more). The car already aging 10 years.
    However, still have some minor problem need to touch up like key alarm remote control. Need to do 1 more set remote because the used car only have 1 set and the touch pen already missing. I checked, this car’s alarm system control by toyota cobra system, do 1 set touch pen with remote alarm need RM200. Beside, also noticed some minor sound at rear wheel, guess is from rear bearing. But I sent to workshop check before, the guy said nothing. Maybe can send to others shop during next service time. You have any idea the price for rear bearing? (I change front bearing cost me RM600++)
    Last, the cushion at driver seat is not comfortable due to previous owner is a fat guy…. hehe. Not sure do you know where and how can repair the seat? And cost how much?

  2. Godwin says:

    Greetings, please I a curious and I need answers to my questions regarding Toyota Altis 2000 model! I have paid for this particular car but in the cause of registering it so that I have plate number I discover that the Chassis number [VIN] is not complete, the unit number is 10 not up 17 units as required by WMI

  3. Godwin says:

    I will also like to know if Chassis numbers of Cars [toyota Altis] must be above 10unit. Secondly, I was made to understand that the first 3unit of chassis number of a car is identification code of the manufacturer and country of origin where the car was assembled; The question is Car with CE1 is which country and assembled where?

  4. Godwin says:

    I have paid for Toyota Altis 2000 and I was told it is same with 2003 and it automatic and left wheel drive, I hope I have not made a mistake!

  5. Eric says:

    I’m agreed with Jacky. Toyota produced the best and reliable model at early 2001 till 2008. It was proven reliable and last if properly maintained.

    Economical Class B
    Toyota Vios 1.5E or G (1NZ-FE)
    First Batch – 2003 to 2005
    Face Lifted – 2006 to 2008

    Luxury Class C
    Toyota Altis 1.6E (3ZZ-FE)
    Toyota Altis 1.8G (1ZZ-FE)
    First Batch – 2001 to 2004
    Face Lifted – 2004 to 2008

    I preferred first batch, it last longer and less issue. Even 16 years old well maintained Toyota Altis 1.8G wont lost if compare to current new model proton / perodua that less than 50K. You can feel it when you driving, it was huge different. It gave well balance of comfort and power yet economical to maintain if you don’t mind it was a old Toyota model

  6. jack cheah says:

    I just got the altis 1.8g 1st generation for about more than 8 months. its good, really enjoyed driving it, only problem is the body roll, i do think the car is a bit high in ground clearance and also there are no anti roll bar at the rear wheels originally.
    I got that fix by fitting ultra racing anti roll bar and strut bars.
    it feels soo much stable during straight and cornering.
    Great car to drive around, but recommend to install anti roll bar at the rear wheels.
    you can feel the car is much more stable in any driving conditions.