Toyota’s family favourite Corolla Cross gets the GR-S treatment

Toyota’s family favourite Corolla Cross is the latest model in the range to benefit the GR-S treatment. The popular locally built crossover has been with us a year already and in that time, it’s become an instant success story. Crowned South African Car of the Year 2022, the Cross also returned Toyota to the top of the passenger-vehicle sales charts.


Now Corolla Cross GR-S joins Gazoo Stable

Now Corolla Cross is also part of Toyota’s South African GR Gazoo Racing line-up and we went along to take a flip in so-adorned new model. Toyota’s GR brand hierarchy of course straddles four levels; GR Parts, GR-Sport, or GR-S, which like this one, the Land Cruiser 300 and an upcoming Hilux variant, offer off the floor cosmetic and dynamic enhancements. Then there are the fully-fledged GR performance models like GR Yaris, GR Supra and the imminent GR86. And then GRMN represents the highest echelon of pure GR performance.

Getting back to the new Corolla Cross GR-S, there’s more to it than just a prettier face. This one gets performance-tuned dampers and coil springs to ‘amp up dynamic performance without detracting from ride comfort’. That’s backed by a recalibrated power steering module to deliver more responsive handling, improved steering feedback and zestier cornering prowess.


GR-S suspension touches the spot

We had a short spin along the Peninsula’s most glorious roads and the enhancements were immediately noticeable. Only last week we commented that the regular petrol RX model may feel a tad distant, its steering wooden. Well, this one’s noticeably better and for us, the immediate choice in the line-up. As the bumf suggests, it also gets it done without compromise. Not quite perfect, but indeed a great effort and step forward.

Nothing else changes over the petrol XR version under the skin. The 103 kW 172 Nm 1.8-litre 2ZR-FE engine still turns a seven-step CVT transmission ‘to simulate a close-ratio transmission’. Our tests proved XR quicker in plain old droning CVT mode. Toyota claims 6.8 l/100 km on the combined cycle. Expect to use closer to nine in the real world.

Corolla Cross

Splendid GR-S cosmetic makeover

The rest of the changes come in the form Corolla Cross GR-S’ cosmetic makeover. To be honest, we quite like it with all the mascara, rouge and lipstick. Well, it’s more of a custom gloss trademark ‘GR Mesh’ black front grille fettling those giant headlamps. Yes, like mascara. The shiny dark finish spreads to the front apron too, while unique vertical ducts house compact fog lamps. And it’s all finished off by a bold Toyota gong in pride of place.

The wing mirrors and the black roof, its rails, and spoiler are also all finished in shiny black to complete that ‘sporty bi-tone look’. A rear bumper diffuser continues the blacked-out theme echoed by the GR badge on the tail. What’s not black comes in the choice of three cool GR brand hues with just as impressive names. Unique 18 alloy wheels are of course finished in gloss black and furnished with 225/50/R18 tyres Arizona Red, Chromium Silver Bi-Tone and Glacier White. Corolla Cross GR-S really looks the part.


Snazzy GR-S enhancements inside

There’s a fair amount of change inside. GR-S adds a dash of flair to the regular, svelte Corolla Cross cabin. Snazzy red contrast stitched and red perforated black leather spreads across the surfaces with a bold GR embossed on the front headrests. That’s complemented by a bold red accent line accent running across the dash and caressing the aircon vents each side. Add piano black detailing and a chunky matching 3-spoke mutifunction steering wheel

The Gazoo Corolla Cross is based on the substantial flagship XR. Which means you get LED lighting, power-retractable wing mirrors, rain-sensing wipers and keyless entry. Once aboard you have dual- zone climate control, LED ambient lighting and one-touch power windows, cruise control. Full smartphone connective touchscreen infotainment has Bluetooth and multiple USB ports. Add a reverse camera display with park distance control and a TFT multi-information display.

Corolla Cross

GR-S gets all the Toyota Safety Sense too

Toyota Safety Sense active safety includes adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, lane trace and a pre-collision system. That’s over and above ABS and EBD with Brake Assist, VSC and Hill Assist, ISOFIX child seat anchors and all the all the airbags.

The new Corolla Cross 1.8i GR-S now tops the petrol range at R453K complete with a 6-service 90,000 km service plan at 15,000 km intervals and 3-year 100,000 km warranty. Service and warranty plan are available from any of Toyota’s 220 dealerships countrywide. Ad Toyota Connect, including a 15 Gb complimentary in car Wi-Fi data, vehicle telematics and enhanced MyToyota app user features.

Corolla Cross

Corolla Cross GR-S will help keep it going right

We have liked the Toyota Corolla Cross since the outset. It is likely to now quicky regain that top selling passenger vehicle slot now that Toyota SA operations are ramped up again following the April flood fiasco and considering all that the GR-S model represents, the combined range is now likely to be even harder to beat. As that say, everything just keeps going right…

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