Hot response for the new Corolla
1,500 bookings for new Corolla Toyota Corolla

JUST six weeks after the order book was opened, Toyota distributor Borneo Motors has secured about 1,500 bookings for the new Corolla. That's roughly 35 cars a day - or three-and-a-half cars an hour, based on a 10-hour day. The response is the best Borneo Motors has had for a Corolla in recent memory.

The new car - the ninth model since the Corolla was conceived in 1969 - seems to be turning more heads than its sombre predecessor. "It's the best Corolla we've had," a Borneo Motors manager said. "In fact, many of the salesmen have booked the car for themselves. 

The hot response is obvious to competitors along the Leng Kee Road motor belt. "We're right across them and their showroom is always packed," said a manager at Peugeot distributor AutoFrance. 

The situation has been so hectic Borneo Motors has had to cut back customer test-drives to just a spin around the block - and it had to set up a queuing system to prevent arguments. 

Competitors like the Mitsubishi Lancer and Honda Civic - introduced around the same time as the Corolla - have not taken off as well, according to trade sources. Part of the reason is the Corolla's relatively low price. Ranging from $84,988 for a 1.5 manual to $94,988 for a 1.6 automatic, it is cheaper than most rivals in the segment.

If orders for the Corolla - traditionally Toyota's best-selling model - continue to pour in at the same rate, the marque could have a fighting chance of overtaking Nissan's pole position in the sales chart. At the end of September, Nissan had a 2,000-unit lead over Toyota in passenger car sales.