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By Andre De Kock

Motorsport Correspondent

Toyota Corolla Cross GR-S looks mean, but needs some ‘GRRRR’

Clad in all the Gazoo Racing trimmings, you would expect the motorsport DNA to continue under the bonnet.

There are some things in the universe that will, forever, remain mysteries.

Why do so many people watch cooking shows on television? After all, true appreciation of food depends overwhelmingly on smell and taste – neither of which can be transmitted via the box.

So, watching it being prepared and cooked misses its most vital ingredients. Like alcohol-free beer, it simply does not serve a purpose.

When asked, the lovers of cooking programmes say they do so in order to catch culinary tips. Really? While watching some of the best chefs on the planet?

That is like saying you can watch Wimbledon and immediately emerge as a better tennis player.

TOyota Corolla Cross GR-S
The Toyota Corolla Cross GR-S rides on 18-inch black alloy wheels.

Another question. Why do car manufacturers involved in top international motorsport insist on displaying the colour schemes of their race vehicles on mundane road cars?

Gazoo Racing badge

Toyota, for instance. Their vehicles have won the Dakar Rally, Le Mans, the World Rally Championship and the World Endurance Championship in recent years – all in red, black and white Gazoo Racing livery.

Now Dakar, Le Mans, WRC and WEC are all iconic motorsport names, and winning at that level entitles one to serious bragging rights.

Therefore Toyota should brag by putting the Gazoo Racing badges and colours on their seriously fast road vehicles. After all, the Japanese carmaker’s pay-off line “GRRRRR” which plays on the Gazoo Racing abbreviation is one which indicates the sound of mean engine power.

That is why the idea of the Toyota Corolla Cross GR Sport (GR-S) doesn’t sit well with me. We recently had this edition to the carmaker’s hugely popular crossover SUV as house guest.

It comes, as the name indicates, with a Gazoo specific grille, black side mirrors, GR badges on the on the tailgate and front wings, plus black alloy wheels in 225/50 R18 rubberware.

Inside there is a GR starter button, black leather seats with GR embroided headrests and red stitching, a leather wrapped steering wheel and gear lever with GR logos, plus red accents on the dashboard and around the air vents.

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Corolla Cross GR-S needs more oomph

Few would argue that the test vehicle looked mean. But, if you are impressed with the vehicle’s sporty appearance, that feeling is soon dispelled when on the move.

The Corolla Cross GR-S is powered by a normally aspirated four-cylinder, 1 798 cc petrol engine that produces 103 kW of power at 6 400 rpm and 172 Nm of torque at 4 000 rpm.

Asked to move a kerb weight of 1 395 kg via a CVT transmission, the engine huffs, puffs and fights valiantly, but does very little to warrant Gazoo Racing nomenclature all over the vehicle.

The Corolla Cross feels tardy in city traffic, which again poses the question why it is dressed up to resemble some of the world’s most able competition cars.

Toyota Corolla Cross GR-S
Red inserts inside indicates this is no ordinary Corolla Cross.

The steering is direct and gives good feedback, but we figure the car’s buyers will not notice such details. Neither will many of them know what Gazoo Racing means, so maybe our whinges are not really justified.
All of which is unfortunate because, being a Toyota, the Corolla Cross is properly screwed together. With hordes of feature.

ALSO READ: Hybrid takes centre stage as Toyota updates Corolla range

All the bells and whistles

Safety-wise, it boasts ABS brakes with EBA and stability control, LED saytime running lights, seven cushion and curtain airbags, lane departure warning, blind spot monitor, park distance control front and rear, plus rain-sensor wipers.

It has a multi-function steering wheel, an interface computer screen, Bluetooth, three USB ports, a 12-volt socket, keyless central locking, electric windows all round, and electric retractable side mirrors.

The front bucket seats of the Corolla Cross are comfortable and supportive, with the steering wheel small, thick-rimmed and sporty.

It will seat five adults on leather upholstery at a squeeze, and the rear seats can fold down to create a lot of luggage space. It has a 47-litre fuel tank and we managed an average fuel consumption figure of 7.9 L/100 km.

The Corolla Cross 1.8 GR-S costs R453 200 and includes a three-year/100 000 km warranty, and a six-year/90 000 km service plan.

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