Toyota’s all-new made in SA Corolla Cross is about to take over. Here’s why.

Every now and again, a car comes along to fundamentally change the South African motoring landscape. The brand new Toyota Corolla Cross is the next of those rare machines. Toyota is no stranger to reshaping the SA car market. Think Corolla, Hilux and most recently, Fortuner. And now the country’s biggest carmaker is at it again and this time it really means business


Bold looking, if you were to morph a Corolla Hatch into a RAV4, Corolla Cross kinda sits in the middle frame of that clip. It’s a handsome car with many a cool styling accent. Cross carries the geneses of both those great Corolla and RAV4 badges across into a car that’s set to change the SA motoring landscape for very good reason. Like it’s positioning. Slotting in below the Fortuner and RAV4 and above the CH-R, Cross shifts the Corolla badge squarely into SUV territory.

It embraces all those SUV merits of a versatile, modern and capable car into the world’s most popular car badge. Corolla has of course racked up over 50 million global sales over 12 generations. But hold on to your hat — this is where it really starts to get interesting. Corolla Cross trumps its obvious rivals in just about every vital SUV statistic. But it beats them to death on price. And then wraps it up in that greatly loved Toyota quality, dependability and reliability.

Sound like a winner? Damn sure it does! But wait, there’s more! The manner in which Toyota SA has embraced hybrid technology through Corolla Cross as a no compromise, no nonsense green driving solution, is a splendid response to a huge green car conundrum in Eskom-poor South Africa. Says company boss Andrew Kirby: “We could have just brought in another electric car that has no infrastructure around it and sold a few and made virtually no difference.


“But Hybrid is different — we plan to sell twelve thousand Corolla Cross Hybrids a year. “The Hybrid saves a third on fuel, so in effect, every third Corolla Cross Hybrid is equivalent to one zero emissions sale. “So, with a little luck, that way we’ll sell 4,000 zero emissions cars a year. “Compared to the under 400 green cars of any nature — battery electric or hybrid sold in SA in the last year, it all makes so much more sense. “For now, Hybrid is the only real green car solution in SA.”

It’s a plan that carries President Cyril Ramaphosa’s personal endorsement as the backbone of his even more recently acquired green grant. To move sustainable motoring forward against all odds in this country. Carmakers trying to bring full electric cars into the market are faced with a huge credibility issue in Eskom’s inability to provide the very electricity required to charge them. But Toyota’s Hybrid system does not need to be charged by a wall socket in your garage.

See, this fine system, borne out of Prius and of which well over a million have been sold over the past 20 years, generates its own electric power while driving. It does so by storing its own electric power harvested from braking, while coasting and free-wheeling, in a small but effective battery. The motor can drive the car under full battery power. And also boost its petrol engine performance like a turbocharger. All while improving economy too.


Best of all, a Corolla Cross Hybrid weighs in at a fraction of, and also costs a fraction of a conventional battery electric vehicle. In fact, you will pay the R23K Corolla Cross Hybrid premium over a regular petrol version off in just 18 months of normal driving. After that, you’ll pocket the third saving in petrol for the rest of your Corolla Cross’ driving life. At these new R20 per litre petrol prices. Think about that for a second!

Getting down to brass tacks, refined and quiet operation, the Corolla Cross Hybrid has a 72 kW142 Nm 1.8-litre 2ZR-FXE Atkinson cycle petrol engine. It’s joined at the hip with a 53 kW 163 Nm electric motor in Toyota’s more compact yet more efficient latest generation Hybrid powertrain. With 90 kW total system output on tap, the Corolla Cross Hybrid delivers smooth and immediate acceleration response and near-silent driving in full-electric mode.

It sips an average of 4.3 litres of petrol per 100 km. At a most impressive 98 g/km CO2, with improved performance to boot. That compares to the 6.8 litres per 100 km at 154 g/km CO that the torquey and refined 103 kW 173Nm 1.8-litre VVTi 2ZR-FE petrol-only version returns. The petrol Corolla Cross also drives its front wheels via a 7-step CVT transmission. A low centre of gravity and beefed-up McPherson front and Torsion beam rear suspension make for an engaging drive.


Although it is a little heavier than the petrol Corolla Cross, the Hybrid carries a fraction of an electric vehicle’s battery storage. So, it adopts none of the feel and handling ills associated with those BEVs’ excessive weight. Handling is in fact quite precise and confidence inspiring and there’s very little body roll either. It’s no rocket ship, but then neither are any of Corolla Cross’ rivals partiularly quick. And the Hybrid is far and away the cleanest and economical of the lot.

Lke its hatchback and sedan siblings, Corolla Cross is built on Toyota’s acclaimed New Global Architecture to ensure that same fine ride quality. Agile and quiet on the road, Cross has an ergonomic and spacious cabin, class-leading luggage capacity and excellent visibility out. Step aboard and Cross’ cab echoes its Corolla Hatch and Sedan siblings’ elegant design and ergonomic style.

Soft-touch materials and double-stitched accent detail abound around the large central infotainment system. Exceptionally equipped from the bottom of the range, Corolla Cross comes in a 3-grade strategy. Toyota’s familiar entry-level Xi spec is aimed at core-value customers, while mid-tier Xs adds comfort and convenience and the flagship Xr gains exec spec, larger alloys and added features.


Colour coded from Xi spec, the range also kicks off with keyless entry, power-retractable wing mirrors, 17″ alloys in 215/60/R17 rubber, automatic light control and LED tai llamps. There are four cupholders, stowage binnacles, a 12-volt power outlet and 60/40 fold-down rear seats, one-touch power windows, air-conditioning and a multifunction steering wheel. To help control the cruise, the, infotaiment, Multi-Information Display, Toyota Connect and more.

Xs adds foglamps and upgraded LED headlamps, Park Distance Control and rain-sensing wipers. Black Leather Interior, dual-zone air-conditioning and a TFT-type MID. Add Apple CarPlay and Android Auto touchscreen audio with two more USB ports, a reverse camera and Toyota Connect. And XR adds 18″ alloys shod with 225/50/R18 tyres, a black and grey radiator grille, full Toyota Safety Sense, and a choice of LED interior lit Black or Terra Rossa red leather trim

All models get driver, passenger and side airbags across the board, ISOFIX child seat anchors, an anti-theft system and auto door-locking. Add Vehicle Stability Control, ABS and EBD brakes and Hill Assist Control. XR models’ Toyota Safety Sense adds Adaptive Cruise Control, Blind Spot Monitoring, Lane Trace Assist and a Pre-Collision System.


Built in Toyota’s Prospection, Durban plant in both right and left hand drive for local and export sale, Corolla Cross represents a R2.9 billion investment. It has brought several thousand new jobs to the plant and its supply line. And therein is another great story of tenacity though adversity. Toyota SA had to quite literally jump through hoops to get this car into local production, on time through lockdown. That is an achievement that the company is justifiably most proud of.

The Toyota Corolla Cross comes with e six-service or 90,000 km service plan at annual or 15,000 km intervals and a 3-year/100,000 km warranty. The Hybrid also carries an 8-year system battery warranty. Additional service and warranty plan extensions can be purchased from any of Toyota’s 220 dealers across South Africa.

A pretty long story by Auto standards, but for very good reason. It really is time to move over Toyota’s new Corolla Cross is coming to town!

Toyota Corolla Cross Pricing
1.8 Xi                 R349K
1.8 Xs                 R390K
1.8 Hybrid Xs          R413K
1.8 XR                 R425K
1.8 Hybrid XR          R448K

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