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Who knew a compact city car from Japan, launched way back in 1966, would go on to become the world’s best-selling range – to the tune of over 50-million units being sold. 56 years have passed since its launch, and lots has changed in the world. The Corolla has seen 12 incarnations over those five decades with several variations and iterations being developed for specific markets globally. We know the world’s SUVs are electrically focused, so it makes sense that the Corolla brand adapts to the needs of the market by introducing a Corolla crossover.
The new, locally made Corolla Cross is underpinned by Toyota New Global Architecture – a modular platform seen on the C-HR, Prius, RAV4 and 12th -generation Corolla models. This platform offers excellent ride quality without compromising agility, low NVH-levels, contributes to spacious cabin and class-leading luggage capacity, low centre of gravity – fundamental to securing a more engaging driving position and more responsive and precise handling with less body roll and a specific suspension set up that allows for enhanced packaging and excellent ride comfort.
I bring up the chassis/platform for good reason – everything Toyota promises from it, you get! In fact, it is a standout feature on the rich list of the new car.
The positive sentiments from the Corolla Cross’s chassis refinements are echoed through into the interior of the cabin. You are presented with an elegant design together with clever ergonomic. Quality soft-touch materials with a double-stitched accent detail are key features of the dashboard and surrounds. The large centrally mounted infotainment system allows for easy operation of most of the cars functioning. Perhaps a small pain-point would be graphic and layout of the screens graphics when compared with competitors who have more of a smartphone type layout.
Toyota has prioritised functionality when creating the Corolla Cross. Considering the potentials customers’ needs as young urban couples, or families, things like good visibility, large door openings that enhance spaciousness and occupant comfort are important, both of which are well catered for. The Corolla Cross has class-leading luggage capacity of 440 litres.
So far so good with Corolla Cross. Now let’s discuss it powerplants – there is a conventional petrol and Hybrid Petrol-Electric powertrains. Both powerplants are exclusively mated to Toyota's latest generation CVT transmission, aiding powertrain efficiency while offering the user convenience of an automatic transmission.
The 1.8-litre motor offers 103 kW/173Nm with a claimed 6.8 litres per 100 km. It is paired with a CVT transmission that offers seven pre-programmed steps in manual mode.
The Hybrid model also features a 1.8-litre 72kW/142Nm (pure ICE mode) and the latest generation Hybrid powertrain with more a compact yet more efficient battery pack. Toyota says the engine is smooth with immediate acceleration. The electric motor provides an instant torque boost aiding acceleration (like a mild turbo/supercharger). I can attest to the ultra-refined and quiet operation, perhaps jarred by the higher revving nature of the CVT gearbox when rapid acceleration is required.
I did enjoy the dedicated EV mode where operation is restricted to near-silent, full-electric propulsion. This mode automatically recharges the battery pack either via regenerative braking or by the petrol engine. As part of the Hybrid’s technology, there is a closed-loop system, which means there is no need to "plug in" to recharge the battery. The electric motor has an output of 53kW and 163Nm (at full capacity). There is a total system output of 90kW. Toyota claims a fuel consumption of 4.3 litre per 100 km. I on the other hand recorded an impressive 6.9 litre per 100 km figure in a mixed city highways driving pattern.
Toyota has nicely packaged the range into Xi, Xs and Xr derivatives. Xi denotes the entry-level model, which is aimed at customers seeking core-value motoring. Mid-tier Xs adds additional comfort and convenience specification, and the flagship Xr grade receives upgraded exterior aesthetics, larger alloy wheels and added features.
In conclusion, the Corolla Cross does a fabulous job of extending the nameplate into SUV/Crossover territory. A compelling product in many regards with only the CVT gearbox taking away from any driving exhilaration. This is arguably not the point; the focus is efficiency and practicality, all of which the Corolla Cross does very well.
Corolla Cross 1.8 Xi - R 349 900
Corolla Cross 1.8 Xs - R 390 100
Corolla Cross 1.8 XR - R 425 400
Corolla Cross 1.8 Hybrid Xs - R 413 000
Corolla Cross 1.8 Hybrid XR - R 448 300
Service and warranty
A six-services/90 000 km service plan is standard on all Corolla Cross models. A 3-year/100 000 km warranty is included • Hybrid model carries an 8-year warranty on the Hybrid battery. Additional service and warranty plan extensions can be purchased.
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