Buyers can still place a booking for the entry-variant 1.8G, but dealers will manage customers’ expectations as the next batch of 1.8G models will be locally-assembled (CKD) ones, which will only be introduced in the latter part of this year.
Similar to the experience with the Toyota GR Yaris, which saw Malaysia’s 127-unit allocation (the highest for any country in the ASEAN region) sold out in just 1 month, the Toyota Corolla Cross ignored whatever negative comments thrown at its gaping ‘fish-like’ grille, as orders were pouring in faster than Toyota sales advisors could process them.
Once again, it shows that social media sentiments are a very, very poor indicator of what’s happening in the real world. It’s also why Toyota’s management philosophy places heavy emphasis on gemba (experiencing something at its actual location – i.e. the factory floor, or the showroom floor) and genchi genbutsu (go see for yourself, as opposed to relying on reports prepared by your subordinates).
Since social media has been proven to be a very unreliable tool to gauge of buyers’ sentiments, we did our own gemba, and spoke to two Toyota dealer groups, Fokus Tetap and Laser Motor, to get a better understanding on what customers are actually saying about the Toyota Corolla Cross.
Mr. Tan Yu Chai, dealer principal of Laser Motor group, which has outlets in Petaling Jaya and Seremban, explained that contrary to WapCar.my’s report, his dealership had sold out all its allocation in just half a day!
“The Corolla Cross was launched on Thursday night. By next morning, many customers were already at our showroom and by mid-day, I had no more stocks of Corolla Cross left! Even my friends are scolding me for not being able to get them a unit but what can I do?” said Laser Motor’s Tan.
Meanwhile, Simon Thong, dealer principal of Fokus Tetap, which has outlets in Shah Alam and Setia Alam, said the last time Toyota had a product this strong was nearly 20 years ago, when the first generation Toyota Avanza was launched. At that time, there was nothing else on the market that offered the same level of utility for the same price.
Fokus Tetap is also one of the 5 GR Garages in Malaysia, which means they are among the only 5 Toyota dealers in Malaysia that are approved to sell the now-sold-out GR Yaris, and the GR Supra.
Simon has been a Toyota dealer for 18 years. He attributed the success of the Corolla Cross to it being launched at the right time and at the right price.
“There’s a very long waiting list for the Proton X50, and the Corolla Cross’ price is also very good. Of course, the trusted Toyota brand helps. The 1.8G is sold out but many customers are willing to wait until July for the 1.8V,” he said.
Orders for the 1.8G are still open, but as mentioned earlier, these will be for the locally-assembled variant that will be introduced later this year.
Simon said customers have been flooding Fokus Tetap’s showrooms in the morning after the livestream launch on Thursday night, and all his allocation were sold out within a few days.
Contrary to what critics say, both dealers say their customers really like the Corolla Cross’ design.
“Initially I thought the majority of buyers would be women, but to my surprise, it appealed to men just as much, the design has a very wide appeal. The features and price are also very good,” said Laser Motor’s Tan.
Tan added that the Corolla name really helps in its sales, further confirming an earlier editorial by WapCar.my, which theorized that by leveraging on the familiar Corolla name, at least 50 percent of the sales pitch is completed even before the car is launched because customers will immediately know what to expect from the car.
“The Corolla is a world No.1 name. It’s a well proven car. Everyone knows what a Corolla is. You take a proven chassis, turn the sedan into an SUV, it’s comfortable, customers will say “Why not?,” plus the pricing is also very attractive,” said Tan.
In the meantime, WapCar.my understand that the UMW Toyota Motor (UMWT) is doing its best to fast-track local assembly of the Corolla Cross at its Bukit Raja plant in Shah Alam.
The Corolla Cross had only gone on sale in Thailand in July 2020 and typically local-assembly projects takes between 9 to 12 months to setup, after work has commenced at the mother plant (in this case, Thailand). Work restrictions due to MCO in the earlier months is complicating matters.
The first batch of CBU Toyota Corolla Cross is a stop-gap measure but unlike the initial batches of China-made Proton X70, UMW Toyota doesn’t enjoy special privileges to allow them to import tens of thousands of cars and sell them at excise duty-deducted CKD prices.
The government only allowed UMWT to import 750 units and that’s all they had to make do with.
I have to admit that initially I wasn't too keen on the Corolla Cross. The first impressions formed from the photos weren't that good but after seeing the actual car, I have to say it looks a lot better than what the pictures suggest. I have no problem with the grille. One thing's for sure, it looks a lot better than BMW nostrils.
Still, I personally think the Corolla Cross interior could’ve been better, especially considering that the ageing Honda HR-V still has a better interior. The Corolla Cross just lacks the little bit more emotional appeal found in the HR-V's cabin.
Overall, clearly the Corolla Cross meets the needs and expectations of its target buyers, who may not necessarily be looking for the flashiest car, but the most trustworthy one.
We've driven the 1.8G variant, which didn't benefit from the additional noise insulation available in the 1.8V but found that G here means Good enough.
The ride is sublime! It rides nearly as comfortable and handles nearly as well as the Subaru XV, (and wayyy better than the Honda HR-V) but minus the small boot and higher maintenance / fuel consumption (due to its heavier and more complex AWD).
As a bonus, the 1.8V adds a full suite of Toyota Safety Sense ADAS features. It's a compromise I will happily accept. It's more comfortable better than the unncessarily firm Mazda CX-30, and handles just as well.
Yes! Sacriligeous? Remember that I also did emphasized that the Toyota's interior still leaves me wanting for something better.
Usually, I will say that a Toyota may not be the best product out there, but it's the safest choice, especially for people who have little patience for quirks usually found in slightly more interesting but left-field cars.
Not this time. Overall, the Corolla Cross offers a package that even I, as someone who loves driving can accept. It drives nearly as well and rides nearly as comfortable as Subaru XV (that's high praise), but with the added bonus of better safety and convenience features, and none of the compromises demanded by heavier AWD vehicles.
You will have to gloss over the less than impressive interior (well you win some, lose some) but it's a compromise I will happy accept and I am pretty sure all the 750 buyers who paid up without thinking any further agrees.