Built right here in Mzansi, the Corolla Cross happens to be a product of Toyota’s R2.6-billion investment in its Prospection Plant. As the local market slowly ditches sedans in favour of SUVs, the Corolla Cross may be somewhat late to arrive at the party but it is set to continue with the success of its sedan counterpart.
To get the idea of what Toyota’s newest member has to offer, we spent the full day in Cape Town sampling it. It joins the highly-contested stable with five derivatives and two powertrain options.
Built on the same TNGA platform that underpins the C-HR, Prius, RAV4 and 12th-generation Corolla models, the Corolla Cross is 4,460 mm long, 1,825 mm wide and sits 1,620 mm high. The dimensions place the model on top of its rivals and translate to a spacious cabin with remarkable head and legroom. The boot space measures 440 litres and that can be expanded, thanks to the foldable 60:40 split rear seats.
Saddle inside, and it’s a near-identical interior that I’ve grown used to in other Corolla models with an impressive air of quality to it. More especially, the XR derivatives I drove with either Black or Terra Rosa Leather – leather upholstery and black leather is found in the Xi and XS models. The good all-around visibility as well as the multiple driver's seat adjustment are some of the things that I came to like about the new Toyota Corolla.
Also similar is the touchscreen infotainment system that’s compatible with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Toyota Connect.
It’s when you step outside of the newcomer that you notice how elegant the Corolla Cross is following Toyota’s latest maturity recipe. The front is dominated by a trapezoidal radiator grille, large headlights, a broad lower bumper with vertical accent lines as well as fender flares.
The rear meanwhile, is fitted with large elliptical taillights with trapezoidal detailing.
Toyota’s entry-level Xi and Xs models make do with 17” alloy wheels shod with 215/60/R17 tyres while the range-topping Xr features 18" alloys and 225/50/R18 tyres.
The entire Corolla Cross range is powered either by a naturally-aspirated 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine with 103 kW and 172 Nm or a 1.8-litre petrol-electric hybrid unit that pushes out a total power output of 90 kW and 163 Nm. All models come fitted with CVT transmissions while a turbocharged powerplant is on the horizon.The powertrain is not exactly thrilling when behind the wheel but it delivers adequate shove when needed. And while I wouldn’t normally vote for the CVT gearbox, the one prowling in the Corolla Cross is positively impressive. It’s only when you plummet your foot with intent during overtaking that the engine battles to garner any form of momentum.
In any case, while CVTs sacrifice driver engagement, it is on the fuel efficiency front where it shines. Toyota claims the non-hybridised petrol models will return 6.8l / 100 km while the hybrid variant will shine at the pumps with 4.3l / 100 km.
The ride quality though is decent and buyers who are looking for comfort will be clearly satisfied in this regard, thanks to the basic torsion-beam suspension at the back and McPherson at the front.
When it comes to safety, Toyota has you sorted with standard features for all models such as an anti-theft system, auto door-lock, ISOFIX anchor points, airbags, vehicle stability control, ABS, EBD and hill assist control. The high-end Xr variants add the Toyota Safety Sense which comprises; adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, lane-trace assist plus pre-collision systems.
In an era where almost every manufacturer wants a piece of the SUV pie, the new Toyota Corolla Cross makes a good case for itself simply because it conducts its business in a stellar way. Also, it wears a Corolla badge and that’s always a good thing and don’t forget; it’s built right here in SA.
A six-service/90 000 km service plan is standard on all Corolla Cross models with a three-year/100 000 km warranty that’s also included. The hybrid model carries an eight-year warranty on the battery.
Additional service and warranty plan extensions can be purchased from your nearest Toyota dealer.
Corolla Cross 1.8 Xi R349 900
Corolla Cross 1.8 Xs R390 100
Corolla Cross 1.8 XR R425 400
Corolla Cross 1.8 Hybrid Xs R413 000
Corolla Cross 1.8 Hybrid XR R448 300