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By Charl Bosch

Motoring Journalist

Mystery solved: Toyota confirms Corolla Cross will be built locally from October

Corolla Cross will only be offered as a hybrid, a first for South Africa.

Toyota has ended months of speculation by confirming the mystery new model set for production at its Prospecton Plant in Durban as the Corolla Cross.

Part of the marque’s R2.4-billion investment announced two years ago, local production of the Cross will see the newcomer being made in right-and-left-hand-drive for South Africa and the rest Africa, resulting in the creation of 500 new jobs plus a further 1 000 in the automotive supply chain.

“This is a significant milestone for Toyota South Africa. It’s not often that we get to produce a brand-new body shape in our factory; plus it is the very first time that we will be manufacturing a hybrid model which I believe will fast become a very popular choice. And it’s the first time for us to manufacture using the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) – which allows us to keep up with global technology and trends,” Toyota South Africa  Executive Vice-President of Manufacturing and Manufacturing Support Group, Nigel Ward said.

“This new model has allowed us to develop our staff. After we launched the new-generation Hilux in 2016, we recognised the need to upskill our team in all areas – sending them on extended assignments in Japan, Thailand and Europe. These opportunities allowed them to support other projects within the global Toyota network – thus skilling up on best global practices”.

Production will commence in October with pricing and specification set to be announced in the fourth quarter of this year. Unveiled in July last year, the Cross, as indicated, rides on the GA-C version of the TNGA platform shared with the Corolla hatch and sedan, but with a longer wheelbase, higher ground clearance and a 85 mm gain in overall length compared to the latter. It will be made in the same part of the factory as the Corolla Quest.

The confirmation of the hybrid powertrain is likely to be carried over from the international model, which comprises of a 103kW/177Nm 1.8-litre petrol engine combined with a 53 kW electric motor for a total system output of 98kW/142Nm directed to the front wheels via a CVT.

“This is an ideal vehicle for our market. It provides an exceptional balance between drivability, roominess, comfort and high-tech features – truly a game-changing SUV. It combines everything you love about Corolla with the utilitarian and rugged aesthetics of a segment-leading SUV,” Toyota South Africa President and CEO Andrew Kirby said.

“Overall, expectation is that the Corolla Cross will not only contribute significant sales towards the Toyota brand, but also accelerate growth mini-SUV segment, increase overall size of the passenger market in South Africa and give momentum to electrification technologies”.

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