Toyota have come up with a new derivative for the Corolla. A crossover aptly named Cross. An honest car from the beginning.
This is a first. The name Corolla on the back of an SUV, or a crossover or something. I am not sure anymore. Anyway, in the back of a high-riding vehicle. Corolla has always been a hatchback or a saloon, depending on the market, then it developed into a station wagon as well and now it also means an SUV.
It seems to make sense. The Yaris Cross is easy to understand as the small crossover in the Yaris family and so the same happens now with the Corolla range.
The Corolla Cross is, therefore, a C-Segment SUV that gets thrown into the mix of a ferociously competitive segment and has to play by its strengths to stand out among the crowd.
For Toyota, it is quite an important model in Europe as the smaller C-HR is bought mostly for its aesthetic qualities and not for being the most practical car ever made, whereas the bigger RAV4 is, well, already a bit too expensive for the average family income.
The Corolla Cross sits right in the middle of the two and the Japanese constructor is so sure about its positioning, it gave it only one powertrain option, at least on our shores.
As you would expect from Toyota, it’s a hybrid solution: a four-cylinder petrol engine with 2000cc and 152 horsepower and an electric motor that adds another 113 horsepower (83kW), although, when combined, total output is ‘only’ 197 Japanese ponies. The battery is located under the rear seats for optimal weight distribution.
This is Toyota’s fifth-generation hybrid system and while it is basically the same, the integration between both means of propulsion is now nearly perfect. The Corolla Cross shifts between petrol-powered and battery-powered with incredible smoothness, all the time managing when and how to charge the battery and when to deploy it for power. As there is no plug-in option, the car is self-sufficient in the search for optimal efficiency.
This translates into a very calm and peaceful driving experience. Obviously, there are no sporting pretensions whatsoever, the Corolla offering great comfort and impressive refinement instead.
Nobody is going to buy this car because it’s a hoot to drive. Petrolheads will not be dreaming about taking this Corolla on an early Sunday drive through a twisty back road and it will, I am 100% sure, not be a future classic with a cult following in two decades’ time. And nor should it be.
This is a car for the present, built to answer questions that are being raised at this moment in time and it absolutely nails them.
When I collected the car from Toyota, it showed an average of 4.6 litres/100km, which meant someone had totally maximised its hybrid capabilities, validating the concept and, to me at least, demonstrating this makes quite a lot more sense than a fully electric car.
I drove the Toyota for almost a week and never achieved that number. But around town, I was averaging 4.8 and at the end of my test, which included at least 50% of motorway driving, it still managed 5.9 litres/100km – an incredible number for such a big car.
The cabin is the same as you will find in the other Corolla models, with a focus on build quality rather than rubbery smooth materials.
Like most Toyotas, it feels like it would survive nuclear Armageddon and, in 10 years’ time, it will look exactly the way it did when it left the showroom. I have to say I felt the napa-leather on the seats a level above the last Toyota I drove, which I really liked, and the infotainment system was also miles better, with more modern graphics and a lot more intuitive.
From time to time, even when I was not making use of the navigation system, the car would tell me, in a very soothing lady’s voice, that there was slow traffic ahead. Because it got it right the first time, I believed it and it saved me from at least two other complicated heavy-traffic situations where I would have lost quite some time just sitting there in a jam. Thanks CC.
The 2.0 litre engine is a treat for our tax overlords, hence why the Corolla Cross starts at €38,190, a not insignificant amount of money. The Luxury version I tested is €43,490 – but it does come with every little equipment item you can think of. A Bentley does not have more kit than this.
At the end of the day, it’s only the price that I see as an obstacle to this car going head-to-head with the (commercially) mighty Peugeot 3008 and Nissan Qashqai. And it isn’t even Toyota’s fault. It’s this appetite our government has for taxes, taxes and more taxes.
Still, a worthy addition to the segment and proof Toyota might be alone in thinking cars are built to last forever, at least among mainstream manufacturers.
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