By Khulekani Dumisa
It is an open secret that sedans are losing ground to SUVs. The C-segment is no exception to this trend. The Corolla and Corolla Quest duo have defied the odds and the previous generation models of the pair sold an incredible combined 136,880 unit sales (Quest contributing 63,966 units). To keep the magic alive, Toyota has introduced a new Quest and it’s based on the outgoing 11th generation Toyota Corolla.
Being based on previous generation Corollas, the Quest and the Vivo (which is based on previous generation Polos) have attracted tags of being lesser models than the cars they are based on. At launch, Toyota was at pains to point out that the Quest is more than just a de-specced Corolla. In fact, Toyota argued that, “the Corolla Quest went through a thorough development programme which aimed to maintain the Quality, Reliability and Durability (QDR) level whilst implementing cost reduction – to the ultimate benefit of the customer.”
We were invited to the launch of the new model to see for ourselves.
Like the model it replaces, it will take a keen and discerning eye to tell the new Corolla Quest from the outgoing Corolla. So what has changed? On certain models, the front bumper has been given an updated treatment, replacing the gunmetal accent trims previously employed. The standard and Prestige models utilise a continuous matte-black lower apron, whereas the Exclusive model adopts partial colour coding.
The headlight trim too matches the radiator grille treatment (matte black vs colour), with the front fog lights now phased out. At the rear, the number plate garnish has been changed from chrome to body colour.
The range is comprised of three grades, i.e. ‘Standard,’ Prestige and Exclusive. Toyota says the entry level model caters to the business user (hello Uber) and focusses on value-for-money motoring. This model makes use of a functional matte-black grille and bumper finishes, with 15-inch steel wheels and core specification features. The Prestige models with colour-coded exterior treatment and 16-inch alloy wheels. At the top of the range, the Exclusive offers chrome exterior elements, a colour-coded front bumper treatment and a high-standard specification set.
On the interior front, Corolla Quest is equipped with three bespoke interior trim combinations. The standard model makes use of a Black and Blue combination textile with a fixed rear seat. Prestige variants are equipped with a fabric and leather combination – available in either Blue/Black or Grey with red accents. The range-topping Exclusive, features a black leather interior with silver contrast stitching and a 60/40 split rear bench.
The interior is roomy, functional and comfortable. The lack of grab handles for the driver and back passengers is the most obvious measure of cost cutting but the balance of hard and soft materials that are aesthetically pleasing makes the interior of the top grade Exclusive model a decent place to be in.
Engine and transmission
The Quest range is powered by a singular 1.8-litre engine that produces 103 kW of power and 173 Nm of torque. The engine is paired with either a 6-speed manual or a CVT transmission. The 1.8-litre engine is said to not only have a higher torque figure but also have it produced 1200 rpm earlier, compared to the 1.6 it replaces. Toyota says, “this offers an enhanced driving experience – one of the key attributes customers identified in the research.” Fuel consumption is listed as 7.0 l/100km for manual models and 6.3 l/100km for models equipped with the CVT option – which is said to be actually better than the outgoing 1.6-litre engine.
At launch, we drove both the CVT and manual. The CVT model and manual both appeared to offer different strengths. The CVT, although the nosier of the two, proved to be smoother and able to tap into power at the appropriate time. The manual was quieter and the promised early delivery of power was notable but the car appeared to lack the right punch mid-range. This meant that if we were in higher gears and suddenly met with traffic (the route included a bit of peak hour traffic), we had to shift from high to much lower gears to maintain power rather than just shift one or two down. This made for quite involved driving which would not be ideal in a car full of restless children. The better choice would be the CVT, with the noise issue being countered by not being trigger happy on the gas.
Overall, driving the new Quest proved to be a relaxing and enjoyable experience. The car is quiet and offers a comfortable and roomy cabin. The fuel consumption proved to be a strong attribute of the car. We managed a respectable 6,5l/100km in the CVT and 7,2l/100km in the manual.
The pricing of the new Toyota Quest may have gone up but the substance of the product has improved. Any buyer in the range will find value. Expect to see a lot of the new Corolla Quests.
Pricing of the new model is as follows:
1.8 Quest R249,900
1.8 Quest CVT R270,400
1.8 Quest Prestige R286,500
1.8 Quest Prestige CVT R296,800
1.8 Quest Exclusive R307,400
1.8 Quest Exclusive CVT R317,700
All Corolla Quests are sold with a 3-year/100,000 km warranty and a 3-services/45,000 km
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