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By Charl Bosch

Motoring Journalist

Toyota Corolla Cross now rumoured to underpin new small bakkie

If true, it will confirm rumours the newcomer will be more of a lifestyle bakkie.

Increasing speculative reports of Toyota’s new small bakkie becoming a reality have flared up once again, this in the United States and in the shape of a protentional unibody offering rather than a traditional body-on-frame.

Details so far

Last month it was reported the “junior Hilux” had been earmarked for introduction in 2025 or 2026 as a global model with the IMV O Concept, shown in Bangkok last year, serving as base.

While no official confirmation emerged from Toyota, interest has remained high after the discovery of a trademark application in Argentina last year for the Stout name last used in 1989 on a lower-priced version of the third generation Hilux Toyota replaced with the fourth six years prior.

Months before the mentioned discovery, Toyota North America’s Vice-President of Product Planning and Strategy, Cooper Ericksen, remarked that should approval be given, a unibody bakkie would present a better proposition in lieu of Toyota not having a smaller body-on-frame structure below the ladder-frame TNGA-F.

ALSO READ: Junior Toyota Hilux an apparent step closer based on IMV 0

Following the reveal this week of the new Land Cruiser Prado, the TNGA-F now underpins six models, the others being the Tacoma, Land Cruiser 300 and Lexus LX, Sequioa and Tundra.

This will eventually grow to nine when the wraps come off the new Fortuner, North American 4Runner and reportedly in 2024, the all-new Hilux.

“If there’s a customer that needs a rugged, smaller body-on-frame vehicle, we can consider that, but if it’s more for urban use and less extreme off-road, then it would make more sense to use the TNGA unibody platform,” MotorTrend quoted him as saying at the time.

Corolla bakkie not far fetched

Along with the trademark uncovering in Argentina, spurred on by apparent plans to assemble the newcomer in the South American nation at the Zárate Plant after it emerged the H300 HiAce- known in South Africa as the Quantum- will be produced in complete knockdown kit (CKD); Automotive News claims the unibody platform could well be that of the Corolla Cross Toyota produces in a number of markets, including South Africa.

Citing the publication, motor1.com states while a bakkie spun-off of the Corolla Cross “remains a possibility, its appearance is a work in progress”.

At the same time, it further alleges that should this materialise, a year of reveal will only happen around 2027, two years later than what Toyota is reportedly aiming for.

Utilising the Corolla Cross’s TNGA-C architecture, which also underpins the RAV4, will result in the “Stout” becoming a direct rival for the Ford Maverick, Hyundai Santa Cruz and Honda Ridgeline in the States as a more of a lifestyle bakkie rather than the dual workhorse/lifestyle focused Tacoma and Hilux.

Won’t be Toyota’s “NP200”

A shift to a unibody frame also confirms a statement made in May by Toyota South Africa Motors’ Senior Vice-President of Sales and Marketing, Leon Theron, who remarked the newcomer “won’t be a half-ton bakkie” in the same mould as the outgoing Nissan NP200.

“We believe it will take the market by storm and are still doing a lot of development around it,” IOL Motoring quoted him as saying.

More soon

For now, little else about Toyota’s plans continues to be known. Expect more details to become apparent within the coming months leading up to 2024.

NOW READ: Half-ton ‘junior’ Toyota Hilux tipped again for production

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