A major feature of the sixth generation Corolla was its engine, which adopted a newly developed double-overhead cam 4-valve mechanism called the "High-Mecha Twin Cam." At that time, while double-overhead cam 4-valve mechanisms enabled high speeds and high output, they were also expensive and primarily mounted in sports cars and sporty models. Use in everyday family cars was not considered. However, the manager of the Engine Development Department declared, "When we pursued the ideal engine with both high performance and good fuel economy, we inevitably turned to this type of engine." With that, the team embarked on the development of a new double-overhead cam 4-valve mechanism for use in a family car — with superior fundamental performance of output and fuel economy, whilst accomplishing excellent mass productivity and low production costs. However, there were many issues that had to be resolved in developments. For example, to determine the optimum cam drive method to open and close the valves, durability tests — lasting several hundred hours at 6000rpm — were repeated over and over using several types of prototype engines. As a result, an engine with high performance and fuel efficiency in the practical application range was completed with characteristics that appeal to the senses with comforting tones.
In the development of the sixth generation Corolla, a project team was organized to increase overall quality. The team made more than 2,000 proposals and cooperated with more than 100 part manufacturers to improve quality in even areas that the customer would never see. Also, by ensuring high sensory qualities for higher levels of satisfaction, the development staff was confident it had created a new standard for the appearance and finish of Toyota manufactured vehicles. With this level of quality, far beyond the boundaries of conventional family cars, the sixth generation Corolla was well received by many and became a major hit model.
- * CROWN: Introduced in 1955 and is now in its 12th generation as a large luxury passenger vehicle representative of Toyota.
At the time of its initial release, the sixth generation Corolla was available in four body types, including a 4-door sedan, a 2-door coupe, a 3-door hatchback and a 5-door hatchback. In August 1987, the van and wagon models, which had been carried over from the fourth generation model without any model changes, underwent a conversion to FF (front engine, front wheel drive) drivetrain and joined the sixth generation lineup. When the model change was made for the sixth generation, the 3-door coupe and 5-door models were discontinued in Japan, but a 5-door liftback model was established for Europe.
Seven types of engines were available at the time of the initial release. This included the 1.3-liter OHC (Over Head Camshaft) 2E engine, the newly developed "High-mecha twin cam" 1.5-liter 5A-F and 5A-FE engines, the 1.6-liter Sports twin cam 4A-GE and Supercharged 4A-GZE engines and the 1.8-liter OHC 1C-II diesel engine. A 1.5-liter OHC 3E engine also was available exclusively for the van model.
In September 1987, the 1.6-liter High-mecha twin cam 4A-F engine was established exclusively for the 4WD model.
In May 1989, in the second half of the model period, the 5A-F and 4A-F engines were replaced by the EFI controlled 5A-FE and 4A-FE engines. In addition, the 5A-FHE was established for some grades of the coupe and hatchback models by further tuning the 5A-FE engine for improved output. Then in September of the same year, the 2.0-liter OHC 2C-III diesel engine was added to the lineup for 4WD models.
For the drivetrain, the front wheel drive was adopted from the time of the initial release for the sedan, coupe and hatchback. In August, three months later, the van and wagon were converted to the FF drivetrain, and the conversion of all Corollas to FF, started on the fifth generation, was completed. Later, Corolla's first full-time 4WD, based on the FF drivetrain, was established to further support the diversification of customer needs.
A wide and low theme was adopted for all body types, and a luxurious design was given to the sixth generation Corolla. To achieve the exterior design, the Corolla was designed like higher grade vehicles with well-proportioned style, including a large, low form with a small cabin proportion and with rounded lines, which was the newest trend. Specifically, when seen from the side, the exterior design emphasized a carefree image with its straight horizontal lines that seemed to flow from the top of the fender to the rear trunk and with a cabin that appeared to be positioned on top. In addition, a visual effect was also incorporated by bringing the front pillar and rear pillar closer to the center pillar to achieve a well-proportioned style, and a delicately designed radiator grille was adopted to achieve a design that overflows with a sense of luxury.