Corolla Cross: Is this 'baby Rav' the new car Toyota plans to build in SA?
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Bangkok, Thailand - Earlier this year, when Toyota announced plans to invest R2.4 billion in building a new passenger car in South Africa, one of its executives hinted that this new vehicle would form part of the company’s new ‘Corolla strategy’.
Until now, that strategy has seen the nameplate expand to include both premium hatch and sedan models as well as the budget-beating Quest that’s based on the previous generation. But now, with Toyota having unveiled an SUV version of the Corolla in Thailand, we’re wondering if this isn’t perhaps the vehicle that Toyota SA plans to build at its Prospecton plant in KZN.
It would certainly make sense, given the way our market is shifting towards SUVs.
Toyota SA remains tight-lipped about its future product plans, and when asked about the Corolla Cross, a representative said:
“Toyota's product portfolio is vast and we are currently investigating a number of different models for local introduction, however we cannot confirm the specific details at this stage.
“Please note that certain models are region-specific and therefore not immediately destined for our shores,” the spokesperson added.
But what is a Corolla Cross?
The new SUV is not just a Corolla hatch on stilts - like the Yaris Cross that was revealed in Europe earlier this year, it has completely unique bodywork, in this case heavily inspired by the Rav4.
But where does the Corolla Cross fit in relation to the Rav?
Although the two share Toyota’s TNGA global platform, the 4460mm-long Corolla Cross is 140mm shorter than the Rav4, and exactly 100mm longer than the C-HR, although it does share its 2640mm wheelbase with the latter. Evidently Toyota has put the extra length into boot, which (at 440 to 487 litres) looks somewhat more generously sized than the C-HR's cupholder-sized trunk.
The Corolla Cross is available with two powertrain options in Thailand, kicking off with the familiar normally aspirated 1.8-litre petrol unit that produces 103kW and 177Nm.
There’s also a hybrid version, and this serves as further evidence that the Corolla Cross might be destined for Prospecton as Toyota SA did state that the new model would be its first hybrid made at the local factory. The hybrid model pairs a 72kW 1.8-litre engine with a 53kW electric motor.
The only transmission choice mentioned for now is a CVT, but that could change as the Corolla Cross heads for export markets.
At this stage it remains unclear whether the Corolla Cross will be built here, but this is where we’d hedge our bets for now. It is also possible that TSAM could built a smaller Yaris-based car as the company has previously hinted that it would like to build a more affordable (than Corolla) vehicle here.