As the economic pressures on both consumers and business fleet owners continue to increase, Toyota South Africa has relaunched its outgoing Corolla model with several improvements, creating a new segment just below its latest, 11th generation Corolla. Meet the newly-badged Corolla Quest: a spacious and value-packed family car
With the advent of e-tolls, emission taxes and rising fuel costs, local car manufacturers are looking to affordable regional solutions to meet the needs of local consumers. Volkswagen’s Polo Vivo and Ford’s Fiesta-based Figo are the best examples of this. Instead of being consigned to the history books once respective replacements arrived, revised versions of these affordable models emerged rebadged and have gone on to be as popular as the original VW CitiGolf.
One of a kind (for now)
As Toyota SA now falls under a separate Africa division headed by our own Dr Johan van Zyl, Toyota Japan has encouraged the company to develop its own products for the region from the KZN plant and the Eston testing facility. This is not a first for Toyota; the popular Tazz, produced as a prolonged lifecycle model, was a budget hatchback based on the fifth-generation five-door Corolla (Conquest). Now it’s the turn of Corolla Quest, a local initiative three years in development. As the only sub-C segment contender on the market, the Quest is eight per cent larger than similarly priced rivals. It bridges the gap between the B-segment Etios sedan and the latest C-segment Corolla with prices starting from R175k. The Quest range comprises three models with just two trim levels: a standard variant – available in six-speed manual or four-speed automatic guise, and the Quest Plus which is only available with a manual gearbox. The Quest also outperforms similarly priced 1.6-litre rivals in terms of its VVT-i’s engine performance versus its price.
Although you might initially expect the base Quest to just be a stripped-out Corolla, it comes standard with an immobiliser and alarm, remote central locking, dual front airbags, Isofix anchor points, air-conditioning and rake/reach adjustment for the steering wheel. Plus trim replaces the steel rims with alloys while also adding body-coloured door handles and adds a radio/CD audio system with USB and auxiliary input. The audio system is the only feature I feel wouldn’t have gone amiss in the base model, but this again would affect its keen pricing. Toyota SA has been able to contain these costs and ultimately offer the Corolla Quest at a low entry price point due to five main factors: the amortisation of the investment that was made in the 10th-generation Corolla; economies of scale; 22 per cent commonality of components between Corolla Quest and new generation Corolla, including engines and front seats; the deletion of non-essential features such as the overhead console, reading/map light and vanity lamp in the sun visor; and using locally sourced materials for the seat fabric and roof liner.
Families and fleets
Visual differentiators over the 10th generation Corolla include revised head- and tail-lights, indicators that have moved from the door mirrors to the fenders and black treatment for the radiator grille and license plate trim. Exterior and interior dimensions as well as the Corolla’s generous boot space remain unchanged which, along with low running costs and proven reliability of the previous generation, makes the car an attractive option not only for small families but fleet operators and rental companies, too. Priced from R174 900 for Quest, R198 900 for Quest Auto and R197 900 for Quest Plus, the new models represent real value, reinforced by the brand’s reputation for quality, reliability and durability. As the Corolla Quest also enjoys a three-year/100 000 km warranty and three-year/45 000 km service plan, the choice is a no-brainer in my opinion. Expect to see a lot of them on our roads in the coming months.