The corolla holds the caveat as the most popular car ever made. I owned one for a while and I have to confess it was a bit boring to drive. (It was actually a pre facelift 1997 model with the 1.3 engine.)
Having driven most of the range the 1.6 is the best proposition for tuning or the E100 with it's 1.8 petrol engine. Toyota did a 6 speed gearbox on this model which shortens the gear ratios and really makes it feel a lot quicker than it was.
The legendary AE86 was a lot of fun despite it's small engine but these are sadly rare now. We will base our next comments on the AE100 onwards as these are the most popular but the tips still apply to earlier models.
The gearchange is a little lethargic so car tuning tips would recommend that you get a quick or short shift gearstick (SSGS).
The corolla also rides quite high on its soft suspension. To remedy this fit some high quality coilovers and lower the car by upto 40mm. If you get adjustable suspension then you can set the ride to suit you but most Corolla drivers prefer even non adjustable shocks over the OEM ones.
A rear anti roll bar will help to address the body roll and keep the car firmly planted on the road see our suspension modification article.
There are a few engine mods open to you. As the Corolla is not a particularly powerful car then it will cost a fair amount of money to achieve a noticeable power gain.
Remaps are very difficult because Toyota lock their ECU's and no one has yet come up with a way of unlocking them. If you have done extensive modifications you will really want to optimise the fuel and timing of the engine. The best option for you is to fit an aftermarket engine management computer to handle the fuelling and timing and this will effectively dispense with the standard cars ECU. Power gains from this alone are not phenomenal unless you have a turbo model. On a NASP engine a remap is likely to give you around 10-20% more power.
Popular modifications for the Corolla include a high flowing panel air filter and sports exhausts. Car tuning tips recommend fitting a sports catalyst to free up a bit more power from the engine as the standard cat is very very inefficient.
When it comes to engine mods you really need to go in deep to make a difference. Get the head ported, polished and gas flowed. Fast road cams will raise the power by a noticeable amount and give a much more zippy top end.
Big brake upgrades are a good idea if you intend to do some track work but the standard cars brakes seem pretty good at their job. To uprate the brakes look to other models int he Toyota range for suitable donors like the Celica. Another option is to go the aftermarket route and get a big brake conversion kit.
You can still perform the modifications we recommend to the 1.3, 1.5 and 1.6 engines but you should only expect a modest power gain of 5-10%, for the same amount of money you could do an engine swap and get a 75% power hike if you drop in the 1.8 Engine from the E100.
We suggest that if you want a bit more information on Corolla Tuning you consult the following sources. TorqueCars have a comprehensive Corolla tuning article and also a very active, friendly and helpful Corolla forum.
If you have any tips to pass on to other Corolla owners please use our comments box below and we will update this article, after all we are all here to share knowledge. Please also let us know if we've missed out an engine or performance mod that you feel should be included in here.
Please use our forums if you wish to ask a tuning question, and please note we do not sell parts or services, we are just an online magazine.
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