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DRIVEN: Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid is a roomy and efficient solution for SA buyers

Published Apr 21, 2022


Justin Jacobs

Pretoria – The Corolla name has stood the test of time. It is one of the most popular vehicles on a global scale and remains so to this day. The Toyota Corolla is basically the Hilux of the sedan segment, however with more customer interest invested in compact crossovers, it was time for the Corolla to evolve. This is the Corolla Cross and it is the first foray into the crossover segment for the long standing nameplate.

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A crossover Corolla… Why did it take so long to implement this truly fantastic idea? Since its introduction, the Toyota Corolla Cross has become extremely popular, in fact some 2 384 were sold just last month. The Corolla Cross has the right name and the right badge, but what’s it like to live with? Toyota South Africa recently handed me the keys to the top-spec Corolla Cross 1.8-litre XR Hybrid.

Before I delve into the Hybrid aspects of the car, let me run you through some of the things that I like about the Corolla Cross. Let’s start with the design.

Toyota has recently moved into a very good spot where their cars are looking great, sporty and angular. The Corolla sedan is an eye-catching thing and the Cross retains that appeal. The front features a large trapezoidal grille, flanked by long headlights with DRL technology.

The vehicle appears tall and long, in fact, its dimensions make the newcomer one of the biggest offerings in the segment; with a wheelbase of 2 640mm and an overall length of 4 460mm. I also like the chrome-like strip that runs atop the door line, it blends into the rear pillar to create a unique design element.

The rear of the car is neat, uncluttered and with large rear lights and a black cladding on the lower bumper. The latter runs the lower edges of the car, adding to a somewhat adventurous appeal. On this Hybrid model, there are blue accents which, along with the blue badges, allude to the eco-friendly characteristics of the car.

Step inside and you are greeted by a familiar looking interior that echoes that of its Corolla Hatch and Sedan siblings. It is not just visually appealing but also offers decent quality. My test unit featured a tan leather interior which I really liked. I also like the large infotainment screen which offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; the climate control is housed just below the screen and it all looks neat, uncluttered and is ergonomically placed.

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The partially digital instrument cluster is also a nice touch as is the fact that the Corolla Cross offers around 440-litres of luggage capacity with a 60/40 split rear bench set-up, making it one of the most versatile in the segment.

Under the bonnet of this Corolla Cross Hybrid, is a 1.8-litre naturally aspirated motor that develops 72kW and 142Nm. While it might not sound like a lot, the Hybrid system does add to the mix and you can expect a total output of around 90kW and 163Nm. What I love is that the Hybrid system supports the petrol motor when you need the power and when you don't, the car can run on just the battery alone in limited circumstances. This usually takes place at speeds below 40km/h.

Where the system really shines is in stop/go traffic. Here the engine hardly switches on at all and I saw around 3.3l/100km on a trip from Sandton to Pretoria in afternoon traffic. I think that while fully electric cars might be the solution to countries that have placed emphasis on infrastructure, the hybrid could very well be the solution in South Africa.

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With a self-charging hybrid like the Corolla Cross, you don’t need to rely on a charging infrastructure to get around, and while your fuel usage is not zero, it is significantly less than the average car. The Corolla Cross Hybrid returned a respectable 5.4l/100km while in my possession.

The ride is also relatively comfortable and fuss free, active cruise control and lane-keep as well as Blind Spot Assist ensure that things are safe and the high ground clearance means that you can still venture off the beaten track when that adventurous mood hits.

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Car ReviewsSUVToyota