Petrol only Toyota Corolla Cross 1.8 XR a great car in its own right

Just about everything we have said and written about the new Toyota Corolla Cross since its launch last year, has been about the Hybrid. Which is all well and good. But what about the common garden petrol version like this XR?

Corolla Cross

Petrol models are still best sellers

Interestingly enough, it’s the biggest seller in the range, selling the lion’s share. That said, the Hybrid has been constrained by supply challenges. The back order since Toyota SA’s flood pause proves that, with 40% of that demand for Hybrid. That tells us two things – you will wait for your Hybrid, and that the ‘common garden’ petrol model is the big seller.

After a week with it, we can also now tell you with confidence, that even the petrol Corolla Cross sells well for very good reason. On the face of it, the petrol-only models have lived under the shadow of the Hybrid. Which is to be expected in our bunny green world.

But this is Africa and things remain as they were on the ground. Look no further than the sales breakdown above for proper proof of that.


Nothing ‘common garden’ about XR

Anyway, what about this ‘common garden’ XR. Well first off, there’s nothing ‘common garden’ about it at all. Except perhaps for that bargain price. It’s a proper car in its own right. The new Cross carries the geneses of the Corolla and RAV4 badges into a car that’s reset the South African motoring landscape. As we say, for good reason, too.

Cross has shifted the world’s best-selling car badge Corolla badge squarely into crossover territory. It’s bold too. Morph a Corolla Hatch into a RAV4, Corolla Cross would sit in the middle frame of that clip. Handsome. Stylish too.

Neither too flashy, nor too basic, some say headlights are too big. Others find them attractive. Smart Key access the dual zone air-conditioned leather-trimmed cabin packing all the Hybrid XR’s bells and whistles reveals a typically Corolla ergonomic and spacious space. Visibility out improves thanks to that extra height.

Corolla Cross

Petrol XR has more grunt than the Hybrid

The petrol-only Corolla Cross has a 103 Kw 172 Nm 1.8 litre 4-cylinder engine turning the front wheels via a constantly variable automatic transmission. Take note that’s ten percent more power than the Hybrid. And once again, it shows.

Half a second quicker than the Hybrid to 100 km/h. it also pulls a second faster between 80 and 120 km/h. Zesty, in step mode it even tends toward racy. There’s surprisingly not much difference in weight to the Hybrid, which is why it feels the same. Also makes us wonder why not a bigger hybrid battery in the petrol-electric version?

The only real shortcoming by comparison to the Hybrid is at the fuel pump. It uses a half more fuel than the Hybrid does. Its 6.8 litre per hundred claim and a closer to nine in the real. The Hybrid will make its price difference back in fuel in around two years if you drive enough.


Corolla Cross XR is refined, comfy

On the road, Corolla Cross is easy to drive, refined and comfortable. A bit rowdier than the Hybrid, it makes up in poise with precise and inspiring handling and little body roll from the McPherson front and Torsion beam rear suspension. It’s engaging to drive.

Driver feedback could be sharper, and it could feel better connected, but then it’s a SUV, after all. Corolla Cross is also not quite the fastest car on the block. Let’s just call its drag strip performance middle of the road.

Corolla Cross of course has ABS brakes with EBD, there’s Hill Assist, all the airbags, ISOFIX, anti-theft and auto locking. Toyota Safety Sense includes Cruise Control, Blind Spot, Lane Trace, Rear Cross-Traffic and Pre-Collision systems.


sensible, practical, easy to drive

Sensible, practical, easy to drive and live with, it’s ‘Toyotaness’ aside, the biggest Corolla Cross plus has to be price. There’s good reason why the Corolla Cross is flying off the shelf. Most compelling in its own right, even at the XR’s luxury premium, it’s almost impossible to beat.

And it’s easier available than the Hybrid, too. Which makes for an interesting little conundrum for your dealer to solve if you must wait for a Corolla Cross Hybrid. Get him to put you in one of these until that’s available. If anything, this Cross Rx really is a great alternative – Michele Lupini

Photos & Data: Giordano Lupini

ROAD TESTED: Toyota Corolla Cross 1.8 XR
Engine: 103 kW 172 Nm 1.8-litre petrol
Drive: CVT FWD
0-60 km/h.        4.91 sec
0-100k m/h:       10.01 sec
0-120 km/h        13.98 sec
400m:             17.3 sec @ 133 km/h
80-120 km/h:      6.89 sec
VMax:             185 km/h
Fuel Average:     6.8 l/100 km
CO2:              154 g/km
Warranty/Service: 3y 100K/6 service 90K km
LIST PRICE:       R438K
RATED:            8
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