How did we miss the fact that it’s been 50 years of the humble Toyota Corolla?

During the late Fifties and early Sixties Japanese domestic vehicles sales still stayed firmly on two wheels — the Japanese bought 30, 40 times more motorcycles than cars, but then they discovered export markets… And then in 1966 Toyota launched the Corolla. And then history happened, and now Toyota is the biggest carmaker in the world with over 10 million sales a year.

So after half a century and 46 million Corollas and counting, Toyota, is ready to celebrate. For its birthday not only has Toyota updated its sales icon inside and out, but the Japanese are also introducing a special Corolla SE 50th Anniversary Edition with exclusive paintwork and trim, plus a bit of extra kit thrown in like a smart key and Toyota’s Entune infotainment system.

Revealed in the US, the 2017 Corolla features a suite of safety kit standard across all trims and even throws in a back-up camera to the entry model. Select cars get a 7.0in satellite navigation system, and depending on whether you go for the LE, XLE, SE or XSE you get to choose between newly designed 16in and 17in wheels.

Sprucing up is courtesy of a new (sportier according to Toyota) front fascia design incorporating a new grille and LED headlamps, while inside designers went with circular air vents and a new dash centre panel. Increased colour palettes for your interior options, and paint choices for the body cover the whole range, but the 50th Anniversary edition offers exclusive Black Cherry Pearl, Classic Silver and Blizzard Pearl hues. Only 8,000 of these examples will be built.

On the safety front, all cars get Toyota Safety Sense-P tech, which bundles Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection; Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist; Dynamic Radar Cruise Control and Automatic High Beams. Customers in hotter climates will appreciate the air conditioning with dust and pollen filtration.

To maximise economy, Toyota has chosen a CVT for its newly added Corolla LE Eco in the US, which coincidentally gets the most powerful engine in the range, worth 140bhp, yet returns the most efficiency.

Currently the 2016 GCC-spec Corolla starts from Dh65,900, but we have yet to see what guise Toyota Middle East will bring the new Corolla in over here next year.