Why the Toyota Corolla Cross will be turning point for UMW Toyota

Eric · Jul 31, 2020 12:00 PM

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The 2020 Toyota Corolla Cross made its global debut in early July and it could prove to be the much-needed catalyst for UMW Toyota Motor to compete in the hotly-contested B-segment SUV market when it arrives here later this year.

Here’s a little bit of background to as why the UMWT needs the Corolla Cross in its line-up.

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Recall back in 2015 when Honda Malaysia introduced the Honda HR-V. UMWT had to watch on the sidelines as they did not have a model to compete against the HR-V.

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Further rubbing salt to the wound was when fellow Japanese rival Mazda introduced the Mazda CX-3 in late-2015, which also proved to be a rather popular model amongst the B-segment SUV buyers.

UMWT had to watch Honda and Mazda (as well as other B-segment SUVs) gobble up market share for a few years before its saviour arrived - in the form of the Toyota C-HR.

2019 Toyota C-HR Front

Though the Toyota C-HR was introduced in 2018 as Toyota’s answer to the HR-V and CX-3, one can argue that the TNGA-C-based C-HR edges closer to an upper-B-segment/lower-C-segment level, putting it slightly above the other two rivals (HR-V is built on the Jazz platform, while the CX-3 is built on the Mazda 2 platform).  

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HR-V still leads with its practicality and massive boot space

Despite being built from a smaller B-segment platform, the Honda HR-V’s boot space (437 litres, Hybrid: 404 litres) is ahead of the Mazda CX-3 (350 litres) and Toyota C-HR (388 litres).

Then there’s pricing.

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Considering that the Toyota C-HR is imported from Thailand and no thanks to our unfavourable exchange rates, it ends up costing more than the assembled-in-Melaka Honda HR-V (RM 108.8k to RM 120.8k, with SST) and the Japan-built Mazda CX-3 (RM 127k), coming in at RM 144,336.

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As such, couple that with its somewhat controversial styling cues and buyers aren’t exactly flocking to Toyota showrooms in droves to purchase a C-HR. To them, the Honda HR-V is a better buy and we can’t fault them. The Honda HR-V is an excellent little SUV that does what it’s supposed to really well.

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Enter the recently-introduced Corolla Cross – a model that could hopefully turn Toyota’s fortunes around.

For starters, there’s no controversial styling cues like the C-HR.

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Never mind the sloping window line that affects outwards visibility in the rear seats or sloping roof line of the C-HR, the Corolla Cross gets more conservative styling cues.

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One could go as far as to say that the Toyota Corolla Cross is a mini Toyota RAV4, as they both share a number of styling cues, down to the squared-off fenders and lower bumper trim. Even the black trim at the base of the A-pillars are similar on both cars!

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The trend continues inside – although the Corolla Cross’ interior may look plebian when compared to the C-HR, it offers much better rear headroom and outward visibility than the C-HR.

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Toyota C-HR's electric parking brake

That said, one curious omission is the electric parking brake. In its place is a regular foot brake. The omission of the electric parking brake means that the Corolla Cross does not get Auto Brake Hold – something which the Corolla Altis and C-HR offer.

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However, despite not fitted with that feature, the Corolla Crosssafety credential still punches above the competition as it still gets the full Toyota Safety Sense (TSS) ADAS suite. The Honda HR-V is only fitted with the LaneWatch camera while the Mazda CX-3 only has Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross Traffic Alert.

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Toyota says that the Corolla Cross’ boot space comes in at 487 litres (with tire repair kit; 440 litres with spare tire), which is achieved by ditching the C-HR’s sophisticated (and pricey) double wishbone rear suspension in favour of a simpler (and cheaper) rear torsion beam setup. With that much boot space, the Corolla Cross has the largest boot space in the segment

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The loss of the double wishbone rear suspension does not adversely affect the Corolla Cross' ride and handling, as according to our sister site AutoFun, the Corolla Cross' suspension setup is softer than the Corolla Altis and C-HR.

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And unlike the Toyota C-HR, we believe that the upcoming Toyota Corolla Cross will be locally-assembled at UMWT’s manufacturing subsidiary Assembly Services Sdn. Bhd.’s (ASSB) second plant in Bukit Raja.

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By taking the CKD route, UMWT should be able to price the Corolla Cross more competitively against its rivals, hopefully not repeating the Toyota C-HR's mistake.

Time will tell how well the Toyota Corolla Cross fare against its key rivals, but from the looks of it, we’re optimistic that it will give the HR-V and CX-3 a good run for their money.

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