Was wondering, do you think this latest iteration of the Corolla could be a "transition" car from its current size to one built like the JDM version? The Axio is built on a Yaris platform. Details are at toyota.jp. Interesting what they did with the Axio. There is an overall sense of thoughtfulness to its design that I find lacking in what they're bringing over here.
That is very possible. Toyota tends to be risk adverse - so if there are changes to be pushed down from corporate level, doing so with an transitional platform/model would be the less "shocking" to its conservative base.
Could the hint of TNGA - Toyota New Global Architecture.
Example this new plug in Hybrid concept from 2012:
Sort of Alfa-Romeo flavor in there. Not a bad thing for Toyota, considering its more conservative stock.
Design features are hit or miss, depending on the market you are catering to. Features that you or I might find useful or well laid out, others may find insignificant. But sometimes, you have to push these features out there and just see what happens. Sort of like our 1st gen Matrix - didn't really impress us at first, but once you see those seemingly minuscule features become quite handy, we eventually gres to love that little car. Example: rear seat backs are hard plastic, and flat - seems odd until you fold them - then they make a perfect flat load floor with the hatch lip almost level. Even more clever - are the smooth rubber strips imbedded in the plastic, shaped to let you slide stuff in but also prevents those items from shifting during transist. They coupled that with two rails that you can attach mini D-rings that can slide up and down the length of the load floor. With those and the side D-rings - I could secure even the most oddly shaped items in the back.
Hopefully with the Sciburu twins (Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ) and hints of a new Supra/Celica coming soon - we may see Toyota back on track.
So, Toyota can build 'em like no one else--with thoughtful design and ingenuity at every turn--or they can build 'em like everyone else, and make themselves just another car company.
Speaking of the Matrix, we looked at one when deciding on the Corolla. I remember that if you wanted alloys and other options that made it a very good car, it cost about as much as the larger RAV4. In a point I made with Bull, above, that at the moment, C-segment cars are sort of caught in the middle. They have options you can't get in a B-segment vehicle, but when optioned out, cost as much or more than a family-sized version.
I think it's interesting to note that while Ford, Hyundai, KIA, Mazda, and VW have hatch versions of their C-segment cars, Toyota have yet to make a suitable competitor. Sure, with the advent of the Auris here in the States, that's all well and good until you consider not all Toyota dealers are Scion dealers. So even still, Toyota, by their own hand, will limit their market share.