Review: Thai media tests Toyota Corolla Cross; bigger car outside, smaller than HR-V inside?
Sanjay · Mar 20, 2021 09:00 AM
It's a good time to be fans of cheeky taglines, as UMW Toyota Motor's campaign to promote the imminent-in-Malaysia Toyota Corolla Cross has been taking potshots at Honda Malaysia's 'Your Time is Up' effort.
But, as they always say, talk is cheap. Does the Corolla Cross have enough in its arsenal to back up its shoutiness? For that, we'll jump into this review by our AutoFun Thailand colleagues to give you a better idea of what to expect.
Thai customers get a choice of four variants: the pure-petrol Sport, Hybrid Smart, Hybrid Premium, and this range-topping Hybrid Premium Safety.
Irrespective of variants, the headlights (LEDs on every variant but the Sport) flank the gaping grille up front, leading to a look which many commenters have said reminds them of a catfish.
Visually, it sticks to a rather traditional recipe - nothing as dramatic as the Toyota C-HR. The roofline is straight, and classic SUV touches like black plastic claddings and large wheels (18-inches here) complete the look.
Adding visual character is a subtle rear spoiler, shark fin antenna, and black roof rails. AutoFun comments that this car benefits from bright colours - such as this Red Mica Metallic - which inherently makes its black-coloured details pop more.
The other thing they said about it is how big it looks in person. Dimensions don't lie, it's wider and taller than its soon-to-be rivals in Malaysia, the Honda HR-V and Subaru XV:
Despite its size, the Corolla Cross has an impressive 5.2-meter turning radius, which is better than the HR-V (5.7 meters) and XV (5.4 meters).
Getting in and out of the Corolla Cross is easy. The doors open wide, the floor isn't very high and the seat bases are adequately low, factors which shouldn't pose a problem to children or the elderly.
But step into the car and this is where it gets curious - AutoFun says that beneath the big exterior lies an interior that...isn't actually very spacious. Many might find it to be smaller than it initially lets on.
According to them, space in front is fine, but it gets narrow at the back. In this aspect, the HR-V feels roomier.
The rest of the interior however is said to be an improvement from the Toyota Corolla Altis in almost every aspect.
The black upholstery, leather-and-chrome details, and sporty-looking seats are features AutoFun particularly liked.
But they didn't like a couple of other things - one, the lack of an electric parking brake (EPB) (it instead gets a foot-operated parking brake), and two, its in-car fuel door release. They comment that these issues cheapens the experience.
That aside, the Thai-spec Corolla Cross comes with two screens inside - a 9-inch touchscreen infotainment system, and a 7-inch fully-digital instrument cluster resting behind the multi-function steering wheel.
Yes, the infotainment system supports both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Sound is played through 6 speakers, which AutoFun remarks as average.
Pop open (or kick it, it has a kick sensor) the tailgate and there's 487 litres of boot space, which can be further expanded by stowing away the 60:40 split-folding rear seats. However, this figure may not be representative of the Malaysian-spec car as the Thai car lacks a spare wheel.
With the spare wheel, boot capacity is reduced to 440 litres - still marginally more than the HR-V's 437-litre trunk.
That said, AutoFun did find a couple of qualms regarding the boot. The bulging wheelarches rob a bit of space, and the boot floor isn't completely flat. HR-V still remains as the more practical car.
Just to reiterate, the variant tested here has a hybrid powertrain, with specs as below:
TH-spec Corolla Cross powertrain
1.8-litre, naturally-aspirated four-cylinder petrol engine
98 PS @ 5,200 rpm
142 Nm @ 3,600 rpm
Combined power: 122 PS
Power is sent entirely to the front wheels. AutoFun's review found the car to be rather gentle, and not one set up to be driven very aggressively.
Drive modes are selectable between EV Mode (essentially Eco), Normal, and Sport, which sharpens engine response. AutoFun notes that the engine can get a little noisy under acceleration.
Drony or not, AutoFun were happy about its fuel efficiency figures of roughly 5.3 litres/100 km. That's around 600 km on a single 36-litre tank - something they remarked as 'unusual'.
Although specifications are yet to be confirmed, our Corolla Cross ought to get a different powertrain, likely one that's shared with the Altis: a 1.8-litre, naturally-aspirated engine that makes 139 PS and 173 Nm.
Powertrain aside, AutoFun had nothing but praise for the handling. The Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) underpinnings might've helped things a bit, but other than that they found the steering to be` precise, nicely weighted, and the car feels easy to drive in and around town areas.
For all it gives in sharp steering feel, one shortcoming of the Thai-spec Corolla Cross is a rather stiff ride. AutoFun's review notes that the car can get rather bumpy, and the damping doesn't really soak up the bumps.
Conclusion - Malaysians should try it
Judging by the good things AutoFun has to say about the Corolla Cross, it may stand a chance to have its own success story here in Malaysia, just like how it swept Thailand's sales rankings.
With humble beginnings collecting diecast models and spending hours virtually tuning dream cars on the computer, his love of cars has delightfully transformed into a career. Sanjay enjoys how the same passion for cars transcends boundaries and brings people together.