one of SA’s most beloved nameplates will spawn an all-new model – the much-anticipated locally-built Toyota Corolla Cross. The Corolla name has a rich and diverse history spanning 12 generations*, and while locally it has been limited to sedan, five-door hatchback and station wagon variants, globally it has been offered in a multitude of guises and configurations. With the introduction of the Corolla Cross – the world’s favourite car enters new territory and signifies the first-ever Corolla SUV/Crossover. This newest iteration of Corolla will proudly share showroom space with its Quest, Hatch and latest-generation Sedan siblings.

*Take a walk down memory lane with our Corolla retrospective which follows this release.

Corolla Cross Concept

The Corolla has continued to evolve in line with the needs of the times and of the regions it is sold in. By adding a new model to the Corolla series to suit the growing demand of SUVs, the enhanced Corolla lineup enables customers to select the model that better suits their diverse lifestyles and life stages.

With “Corolla Meets SUV” being the key phrase for the development of the Corolla Cross, the model was designed as a new type of SUV that combines all the key Corolla credentials with utility – in a manner that exceeds customer expectations. The TNGA platform (GA-C) has enabled the Corolla Cross to achieve high-quality performance, a comfortable ride, and outstanding quietness. In addition to its exceptional comfort, the Corolla Cross provides a spacious cabin, easy entry into and exit from the car, class-leading luggage space suitable for all scenarios, and safety equipment inherited from the Corolla series. In this way, the new model realises comfort, utility, and peace of mind for customers. 

The Corolla Cross will slot in above the C-HR and below the RAV4 models, both in terms of size and powertrain configuration.

Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA)

The benefits of the TNGA platform have already been showcased in the Prius, C-HR and E210 Corolla (sedan and hatch) models. TNGA provides excellent ride quality, without compromising agility and driver feedback – resulting in a car that ‘just feels right’. Occupants are also rewarded with a spacious cabin that offers superb visibility with a stylish yet highly-ergonomic interior design.

Another hallmark of the TNGA platform is the reduction of NVH-levels (Noise Vibration Harshness), thereby offering driver and passengers a quiet, comfortable and smooth ride.

Exterior Styling

The Corolla Cross fuses the striking design language of the Corolla Sedan and Hatch models with a SUV-shape to provide a harmonious design. Large, elongated headlamps flank a prominent trapezoidal radiator grille, which is further accentuated by the broad ‘upswept’ lower bumper. Deep vertical design lines on the outer edges of the bumper, help create a ‘sturdy’ frontal view.

The side profile features noticeable fender flares, creating a sense of width, and complementing the sleek glass house and C-pillar trim. The rear employs large elliptical taillamps with trapezoidal detailing and crease lines – to provide a sleek and sophisticated look.

Buyers of the Corolla Cross will also be able to customise their vehicle with an assortment of exterior accessory packages – catering to everything from rugged, adventure-themed variants, to sporty urban enhancements.

50 Million Corolla’s Sold

The introduction of a Corolla SUV fittingly coincides with a remarkable landmark in the model’s history. The humble Corolla nameplate is set to achieve 50 million global sales in 2021 – firmly cementing it as the world’s best-selling car. The 10-million mark was eclipsed in 1983 with the model doubling sales to 20- million by 1994. Thirty million was achieved by 2005 with the magical 40-million milestone reached in 2012.

Corolla is sold in over 150 countries and remains the top-selling model in many markets across the world. Therefore, a special congratulatory message must go out to Corolla for providing fun, affordable and dependable mobility to millions of global citizens.

PS: International images shown – local specifications and visuals may differ.


Corolla Lineage

The Corolla nameplate needs no introduction – first launched in November of 1966, it marked the start of great things, not only for Toyota but Japanese automakers as a whole, as Japan experienced a period of rapid economic advancement, population growth and societal revolution. Named after the ring of petals on the central part of a flower, this was Toyota’s first mainstream compact car.

Featuring a compact yet sporty bodyshape and 1100cc four-cylinder engine, the Corolla found favour from Day one. This model along with the larger second-generation ‘E20’ went on to become global success stories, drawing in buyers across the globe. The second-generation Corolla also introduced additional bodyshapes offering buyers a two-door coupe and four-door van – in addition to the two- and four-door sedans of the pioneering ‘E10’.

The third-generation E30 grew once again, now adding liftback and fastback versions for a total of five body shapes. This was the first model sold (and produced) in South Africa, kicking off Mzansi’s love affair with the compact sedan in 1975. The ‘boxy’ fourth-generation E70 model offered seven body configurations (the most in the brand’s history) with engines ranging from 1.3 to 1.8-litres. This generation helped Corolla clinch 10 million global sales in March of 1983 and remains a firm favourite with collectors and Toyota fans to date, affectionately referred to as a ‘Baby Cressida’. The fifth-generation brought a significant change with the switch to a front-wheel-drive platform and in South Africa introduced the Corolla hatchback badged as the Corolla Conquest. This model joined the familiar sedan alongside a liftback version (called Corolla Avante).

The fifth-generation model also introduced the famed RSi and GLi Twincam-16 names on local soil and scooped the inaugural SA Car of the Year (COTY) title in 1986.

This was followed by the sixth-generation E90 cars in both Corolla and Conquest forms. These models introduced a more upmarket feel to the Corolla range with the Executive and GLS trim levels – and offered a wide range of engines. In South Africa this model remained in production despite the seventh-generation E100 cars being sold overseas. The next ‘local’ Corolla was the E110, which grew in size and particularly interior space. The bonnet of this generation also housed the famed 20-valve 4AGE engine in RSi format – earning cult status amongst petrolheads.

The year 2000 saw the debut of the E120 series of cars and the hatchback variant now carried the RunX badge on its rear flanks. The ninth-generation Corolla and RunX pairing employed a completely different design language and moved Corolla into a more luxury-oriented arena – while the RunX carried the sporty flag by including a high-power RSi variant. These models achieved considerable sales success on local shores.

In 2006 the Prospecton Plant switched over to the 140-series of Corolla and a new global direction saw the ‘divorce’ of the hatchback Corolla variant, as it was renamed Auris and sold as a stand-alone model. This 10th-generation sedan would go on to become the Corolla Quest in SA, when the 11th-generation went on to replace it in 2014. Uniquely, our Durban-based plant thus produced both E140 and E180-series in the factory simultaneously.

The 12-th generation Corolla slotted into the market in 2019, featuring a bold new design and Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) platform, it also marked the return of the hatchback variant. For the first time in SA, the hatch model was badged simply as Corolla (without a sub-name). This in turn prompted the switch to the 11-th generation platform for the Corolla Quest in 2020, while the Corolla sedan and hatchback models were imported for the first time since 1975.