DRIVEN: Toyota Corolla Cross is dressed for success

By Time of article published Nov 4, 2021

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By Colin Windell

Cape Town - At first glance the newly launched Toyota Corolla Cross may look like just another Corolla, but in the South African market it is unique and required a study of the London Underground railway system to become a reality.

According to Nigel Ward, executive director of manufacturing at the Toyota SA Motors (TSAM) plant in Prospecton, Durban, the Toyota Corolla Cross is assembled on the same line as the Corolla Quest.

“Lack of storage space on the production floor meant we had to get the just in time delivery of the right components to the correct station perfect. We also needed to know how to predict where ‘logjams’ could occur and eventually it was by studying the London Underground that we managed to devise the system that is now up and running.”

Not only is the assembly process a unique feature of the Corolla Cross but it is also the first being manufactured locally on the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) and represents a modular platform, capable of underpinning hatch, sedan and SUV model ranges as seen in C-HR, Prius, RAV4 and 12th-generation Corolla models.

Additionally, it is the first hybrid car to be manufactured in South Africa.

The Toyota Corolla Cross launches in two formats, a petrol 1.8-litre with three specification options, and the battery hybrid version with two specification grades – pricing starting from R349 900 for the base petrol to R448 300 for the full-spec hybrid.

A drive through the Cape Town city traffic onto the open road heading towards Riebeeck Kasteel in the hybrid was not so much a revelation but a comforting feeling that, actually we can do something positive to save the planet.

Hybrids are not new in the Toyota/Lexus line-up but the Corolla Cross marks the first the company is targeting locally as a volume seller and president and CEO Andrew Kirby admits there is still work needed to be done to bring the price of hybrids down – much of which depends on increasing volumes.

Driving through a CVT gearbox, the Corolla Cross Hybrid switches seamlessly between pure electric power and the engine, easing itself along in city traffic on electricity with zero emissions until the space opens up to accelerate to highway speeds.

Fuel consumption on the launch run according to the on-board computer was 6.1 l/100km and I have to admit to pressing on a bit on the open road and experimenting with it its overtaking acceleration capabilities so that figure would likely drop with a more conservative driving approach.

On the outside, the Corolla Cross fuses the design language of the Corolla Sedan and Hatch models with a SUV-shape with large, elongated headlamps, a prominent trapezoidal radiator grille and large elliptical tail lamps with trapezoidal detailing and crease lines at the rear.

Inside, the Corolla Cross feels larger than it actually is, surrounding the occupants with soft-touch materials and, for the driver, an uncluttered and easily readable dash display with multiple options of what to view at any given time.

Although a small SUV, it has a luggage capacity of 440 litres and the rear seat has a 60/40 split to free up more space and to house bulkier items.

The Hybrid model is powered by a 1.8-litre Atkinson cycle engine with outputs of 72kW and 142Nm in pure ICE mode. The electric motor outputs 53kW and 163Nm for a total usable system output of 90kW.

The pure petrol model has the tried and trusted 1.8-litre VVTi 2ZR-FE engine offering 103kW at 6 000r/min and 173Nm 4 400r/min.

The three-grade model range uses Toyota's familiar Xi, Xs and Xr nomenclature and the base Xi offers as standard colour coding, keyless entry, power-adjustable and auto-retractable exterior mirrors, 17-inch alloy wheels shod with 215/60/R17 tyres, LED tail lamps and automatic light control, cruise control, air-conditioning, 12-volt power outlet and all-round one-touch power windows, multi-Information display (MID) for the driver and Toyota Connect.

The Xs versions gain foglamps and upgraded LED headlamps, park distance control and rain-sensing wipers, black leather interior, air conditioning upgraded to dual-zone variant and the multi-information display (MID) is upgraded to the TFT-type. A touchscreen audio system with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto are in place too, along with two additional USB ports and a reverse camera.

The Xr features list kicks it up a notch with 18-inch alloy wheels shod with 225/50/R18 tyres, black and grey radiator grille, Toyota Safety Sense, choice of Black or 'Terra Rossa' (Red) Leather interior and LED interior illumination.

All Corolla Cross models offer buyers an anti-theft system, auto door-lock, ISOFIX anchor points, driver, passenger and side crash bags across the board, Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), ABS + EBD + Hill Assist Control.

On the XR models the Toyota Safety Sense comprises adaptive cruise control, Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM), Lane Trace Assist (LTA) and Pre-Collision System (PCS).

Toyota Corolla Cross pricing:

  • 1.8 Xi - R 349 900
  • 1.8 Xs - R390 100
  • 1.8 XR - R 425 400
  • 1.8 Hybrid Xs - R413 000
  • 1.8 Hybrid XR - R448 300

A six-services/90 000km service plan is standard on all Toyota Corolla Cross models, with service intervals of 12-months/15 000km and a 3-year/100 000km warranty. Hybrid model carries an eight-year warranty on the Hybrid battery and additional service and warranty plan extensions can be purchased from Toyota dealers.

Visit Colin-on-Cars for more driving impressions by Colin Windell

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