Toyota Corolla Cross: South Africa’s first locally built hybrid

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As the world becomes increasingly aware of the environment, carmakers have started to pivot toward electromobility. Various brands have taken different approaches; some prefer the benefits of a fully electric vehicle (EVs), while others offer a range of pure EVs and plug-in hybrids, for example.

In the sphere of eco-friendly motoring, Toyota is a pioneer. The Japanese brand has, for many years, offered hybrid vehicles. First seen in 1997, the Prius showcased technology that allowed drivers to enjoy the benefits of a petrol-powered vehicle while leaving a small carbon footprint behind.

The innovative Prius boasted an electric motor which allowed the car to roam around town silently and emission-free. When more power was needed (or the battery was low) the petrol engine kicked in, charging the batteries up. This ingenious solution saved fuel and was an instant hit with forward-thinking consumers.

The technology was soon adopted by the brand’s premium arm, Lexus, along with a host of other models. With the unveiling of the new Toyota Corolla Cross, Toyota has released a well-priced, high-quality crossover that is competitively priced. And, in these economically challenging times, has offered a hybrid as well. Proudly South African, the Tokyo-based company also produces the eco-friendly derivative here, a first for Mzansi.

Not only is it a milestone for the country, but for Toyota, too. Earlier this year, when speaking about the production of the Corolla Cross, Toyota South Africa’s Nigel Ward commented that local production of the competent crossover ushers in a number of “firsts” for the manufacturing team at Prospecton. 

“This is a significant milestone for Toyota South Africa. It’s not often that we get to produce a brand-new body shape in our factory; plus it is the very first time that we will be manufacturing a Hybrid model which I believe will [quickly] become a very popular choice. And it’s the first time for us to manufacture using the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) – which allows us to keep up with global technology and trends.”

It’s no secret that South Africa’s unemployment rate is through the roof, which makes Toyota’s investment all the more important. Through the Corolla Cross project, more than 500 jobs will be generated, with a further 1000 in the local automotive chain.

But what of the car? We at AutoAdvisor enjoyed our stint behind the wheel, but nothing speaks stronger than sales volume. In fact, in its first month, the Corolla Cross helped Toyota South Africa achieve a sales record, with a staggering 1 757 examples sold. This not only makes it the most successful Toyota (in terms of sales) but the best selling car in South Africa for November 2021.

Currently, five models are offered. For now, we’ll just focus on the hybrid derivatives. Two are available, in varying trim levels. At R413 000, the Xs model is the cheapest hybrid currently on the market. As standard, you receive LED headlamps, fog lamps, a leather interior, park distance control, dual-zone air-conditioning, and rain-sensing wipers. What’s more, a reverse camera helps you guide the vehicle out of tricky parking situations. 

A touchscreen infotainment system provides important information and offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, for seamless screen-mirroring. Of course, safety is also an important factor, and the Corolla Cross Hybrid Xs provides: auto-locking doors, ISOFIX child seat anchorages, stability control, and ABS with EBD (and Hill Assist Control) is all standard. Five airbags also form part of the safety suite.

Those looking for more luxury in their Corolla Cross Hybrid will undoubtedly be enamoured by the XR variant. For R448 300, you receive all the features of the Xs and more. 18-inch alloy wheels, the choice of a black or grey radiator grille, LED interior lighting and Toyota connect add an extra layer of sophistication. Inside, customers have a choice between black or ‘Terra Rossa’ (a dashing shade of red) leather interior.

Importantly, the XR receives even more safety equipment than its siblings. Toyota Safety Sense, standard on the XR, brings with it Blind Spot Monitoring, Lane Trace Assist, a Pre-Collision System, and adaptive cruise control.

Under the bonnet of the classy Corolla Cross Hybrid, you’ll find a 1.8-litre petrol engine. In pure ICE mode, it produces 72 kW and 142 Nm of torque. Together with the electric motors, the Hybrid provides smooth and sudden acceleration. Toyota’s latest Hybrid powertrain is more compact yet more efficient. A benefit of the Hybrid technology is the near-silent operation when in full electric mode.

The Corolla Cross Hybrid features an EV mode, allowing drivers to operate the Corolla Cross in absolute silence, not only making for a refined drive but an eco-friendly one, too. Unlike a fully electric vehicle, the petrol engine recharges the battery pack, so you never have to worry about running out of battery. What’s more, through regenerative braking, the battery gains extra charge.

With 53 kW and 163 Nm of torque (at full capacity) the electric motor provides a generous boost in power, the same way a turbo or supercharger would. Combined, the total system output is measured at 90 kW. More impressive than the power and performance is the fuel economy. Toyota claims a remarkable figure of just 4.3 L/100 km. Theoretically, this would allow for over 800 km on a tank of petrol. CO2 output is rated at just 98 g/km.

Peace of mind is provided for, with a six services/90 000 km service plan on all models. A three-year/100 000 km vehicle warranty is also included, while Hybrid models receive an eight-year warranty on the Hybrid battery.

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