GR Sport treatment hones Corolla Cross more desirable
Toyota Gazoo Racing is quite a thing. Starting in every World Championship this side of Formula 1 and FE, the Japanese giant’s sporty Gazoo brand is the reigning FIA World Endurance, World Rally and World Rally Raid Champion.
Gazoo Racing, or GR, took those titles with its respective Le Mans 24 Hour winning GR Hybrid Hypercar, Monte Carlo Rally winning Yaris WRC and South African built Hilux DKR, which also won the Dakar Rally. Cute hey?
Anyway, the Gazoo brand is also infiltrating the entire Toyota range. Witness the full blown Gazoo Yaris, Gazoo Supra, GR86 and the imminent Gazoo Corolla. All of them completely fettled for no compromise driving performance.
No reason to wear your baseball cap back to front
Then there’s the GR Sport range, which includes suspension and aesthetic enhancements, like the Land Cruiser 300, Hilux GR Sport, and this Corolla Cross GR Sport. Everyday cars that carry enough Gazoo magic, without the need to ever wear your baseball cap back to front.
Now, there’s more to this car than just a prettier face. The Toyota Corolla Cross GR Sport gets performance-tuned dampers and coil springs to improve dynamic performance without detracting from ride comfort. That’s backed by a recalibrated power steering for more responsive handling, improved steering feedback and zestier cornering prowess.
We wrote in our test of its regular RX sibling, that it felt a bit remote, its steering a tad wooden. Well, this one’s noticeably better. Best of all, that sharper demeanour comes without compromise, as a week among KZN’s finest potholes so well proved. Not perfect, but a significant step forward for sure.
GR Sport enhances Corolla Cross
The love child of Corolla and RAV4, Corolla Cross carries the world’s best-selling car badge squarely into crossover territory. This one’s GR Sport enhancements include a custom gloss black GR Mesh front grille with a bold Toyota gong in pride of place, between those giant headlamps.
Add blackening for the front apron, vertical fog lamp shrouds, wing mirrors roof, rails, spoiler, and diffuser. The unique 18 alloy wheels are, wait for it, gloss black. In 225/50/R18 tyres. All the GR badging is in place It all comes together in sporty bi-tone look over this one’s Chromium Silver mid-grey metallic.
GR Sport also adds a dash of flair to the regular Corolla Cross cabin. The leather-trimmed, smart key accessed, dual zone climate controlled space already packs in all the kit you need. It is typically Corolla ergonomic and spacious. Visibility out also improves thanks to that extra height.
A bold, GR Sport boosted cabin
A snazzy Gazoo red perforated and red contrast stitched black leather spreads across all surfaces. A bold red accent line crosses the dash and caresses the climate vents each side. There is also of course piano black detailing to complement the chunky 3-spoke mutifunction steering wheel behind clear dials and a TFT multi-info display.
Full smartphone connective touchscreen infotainment has Bluetooth, multiple USBs and a reverse camera with distance control. Most importantly, this humble button and knob rich Toyota car-to-man interface is easy to understand and use. So refreshing in a world where similar systems are far too clever for mere mortals to capably operate.
The GR Sport is based on the Corolla Cross flagship XR. Which means you also get LED lighting, power-retractable wing mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, and keyless entry. Plus dual- zone climate control, LED ambient lighting, one-touch power windows, and cruise control. Toyota active Safety Sense includes adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, lane trace and pre-collision. 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.
Nothing else changes under the skin
Other than Corolla Cross GR Sport’s suspension tweaks, 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 however proved quicker in plain old droning CVT mode.
Easy and engaging to drive, refined and comfortable, that GR enhanced McPherson front and Torsion beam rear suspension makes for precise and inspiring handling. With a touch of body roll. Corolla Cross is not quite the fastest car on the block. Let’s just call its drag strip performance middle of the road, but
Toyota claims 6.8 l/100 km on the combined cycle. We used seven and a half in some pretty pressed driving over a reasonable distance, so it will likely better that claim when driven with economy in mind.
Sexy Corolla Cross GR Sport HARD to beat
The R480K 1.8i GR Sport tops Toyota’s petrol Corolla Cross range complete with a 6-service 90,000 km service plan at 15,000 km intervals, and a 3-year 100,000 km warranty. Extended service and warranty plans are available from any of Toyota’s 220 dealerships countrywide.
That Gazoo relish alters this Corolla Cross and makes it and its recently introduced GR Sport Hybrid sibling our obvious choices in the range. Sensible, practical, easy to drive and live with, it’s ‘Toyotaness’ aside, the biggest Corolla Cross plus has to be price. Most compelling in its own right, even at the GR Sport’s athletic premium, it’s almost impossible to beat. – Michele Lupini
Road testing: Giordano Lupini
ROAD TESTED: Toyota Corolla Cross 1.8 GR Sport Engine: 103 kW 172 Nm 1.8-litre petrol Drive: CVT FWD TESTED: 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 CLAIMED: VMax: 185 km/h Fuel Average: 6.8 l/100 km CO2: 154 g/km Range: 691 km Warranty/Service: 3y 100K/6 service 90K km LIST PRICE: R480K RATED: 8