We are referring to the launch last week of the Toyota Corolla Cross that also saw the C-HR being retired.
The sports utility vehicle (SUV) love-fest continues and Toyota is hoping its latest model would help boost its coffers in challenging times.
Two versions of the Corolla Cross are on offer: the 1.8V and 1.8G.
They are imported from Thailand and local assembly will start later in the year.
The RM124,000 1.8G variant is now on sale; the RM134,000 1.8V will show up soon but bookings are accepted now.
The 1.8G was available for a media drive a week before the March 25 launch.
With inter-state travel ban still in force because of Covid-19, the route plotted was from Shah Alam to Cyberjaya.
The mix of highways and by-ways travelled afforded enough variety to form an impression of the Corolla Cross.
The C-segment SUV takes aim at Proton X50, Honda HR-V, Kia Seltos, Hyundai Tucson, Subaru XV and Mazda CX-30.
Like many of the latest Toyota models, the Corolla Cross is built around the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA), a platform that allows more engineering flexibility and superior benefits.
With TNGA, a lower centre of gravity can be achieved to improve stability while the highly rigid body is said to translate to greater agility and ride comfort.
Compared to the Corolla sedan, the 5-seat Corolla Cross has a marginally shorter body with a length of 4,460mm.
However, it has 45mm more width at 1,825mm, and stands 185mm taller at 1,620mm. Ground clearance is raised to 161mm.
Truth be said, the snub nose looks more memorable than the rear.
The wide trapezoidal grille with its faux honeycomb look holds the front together flanked by slim headlights.
Only the 1.8V offers LED headlights; the 1.8G gets you a mix of halogen headlights and LED foglamps, which isn’t the best lighting combo.
The daytime running lights has an intricate “light curtain” graining for a unique appearance, which is seen in the rear lights as well.
Sheet metal indentations front and back at the shoulder line lend a sculptural look to the sides.
The cabin sports a black colour scheme with black leather seats, while satin-finish paint is used to highlight ornamentation parts.
The dashboard is shared with the Corolla sedan except for the meter cluster layout. Hard plastic dominate save for soft leather lining the door armrests. And the parking brake is the foot-operated version instead of the modern electric parking type.
Visibility is great with Toyota stretching as much glass as possible around the greenhouse.
Seats are comfortable especially so for the driver who gets one with 8-way power adjustment.
The rear offers enough legroom and the seatback can recline 6 degrees for a more relaxed riding position.
The SUV also boasts 440 litres of boot space, more than most rivals.
The 9-inch infotainment display on the dashboard supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as other connectivity options include USB mirroring, AUX and Bluetooth.
A powered tailgate with kick sensor is standard across variants.
The 1.8-litre 4-cylinder petrol engine, which makes 137hp at 6,400rpm and 172Nm at 4,000rpm, is carried over from the Corolla sedan.
Top speed is 185kph. Power is relayed to the front axle by a seven-speed CVT with Sequential Shiftmatic.
On the move, the Corolla Cross comes across as a competent people mover.
Although 40kg heavier than the sedan, there’s enough power to bring the SUV quickly up to speed though more is always welcome.
You would have to really step on it to eke out higher speeds and that’s when the CVT shows its more drony side. Otherwise, it stays calm and collected at highway speeds.
To be fair, it was fun putting it to work in manual mode on the back roads of Hulu Langat where the virtual gears snap to order as the car weaved in and out at a brisk pace. It just felt more alive.
The front MacPherson strut and rear torsion beam suspension did a commendable job at soaking up vibrations and gave a sense of hugging the road especially on winding stretches in Hulu Langat. Chassis rigidity also helped control lean in tight curves.
Safety-wise, the 1.8G is not as full-featured as the 1.8V. Both get seven airbags, stability and traction control, anti-lock braking, blind spot detection and rear cross traffic alert as well as tyre pressure warning system.
Missing from the 1.8G are pre-collision system, lane-keeping assist, lane departure alert with steering assist, automatic high beam and adaptive cruise control.
Toyota’s latest is sure to draw interest for those looking for a sizeable SUV that offers enough practical space for the small family.
The 1.8G generally gave a good account of itself, paving the way for the 1.8V to be viewed favourably once it arrives.