Think of it as a junior RAV4, but without all-wheel drive. 

Toyota has created a potential nightmare for rival product planners, with its latest Corolla model range extension. 

Recognising the surge in demand for crossovers, the Japanese company has shaped a new bodyshell for the TGNA-C platform Corolla. This transforms the conventional Corolla sedan into a five-door crossover. 

The styling details, from grille to tailgate, are notably different to a Corolla sedan and as befits a crossover-type vehicle, there is black cladding around the bumpers, side skirts and wheel arches. Cabin trim, design and switchgear, is similar to what you'd find in a current Corolla.  

Coralla Cross

If you wish to reference dimensions, this new Corolla Cross is 35 mm shorter but 185 mm taller than a current Corolla, although its mechanical configuration is slightly less advanced. An example of this is that Corolla Cross has independent MacPherson strut front suspension but features a torsion beam rear. The new Corolla Cross is positioned slightly larger than the C-HR but smaller than the RAV4. Expect it to take on rivals such as the VW T-Cross, Hyundai Venue and the Kia Seltos. 

Powering this new Corolla development is a familiar 1.8-litre petrol engine, producing 103 kW and 177 Nm. Toyota will also be offering a hybridized version, which adds an electric motor to the powertrain, producing 54 kW and 163 Nm, in conjunction with a mild tune of the 1.8-litre petrol engine, set at 73 kW and 142 Nm. 

Drive is to the front wheels, via an e-CVT transmission. Toyota is offering both 17- and 18-inch wheels with its Corolla Cross, rolling 215/60 or 225/50 profile tyres. 

Initially scheduled to launch in Thailand, the new Corolla Cross will likely hit the South African market later in 2021. The Corolla Cross is set be built in KZN at the Toyota plant in Prospecton. The vehicle uses the same platform as the new Corolla but will be built alongside the Corolla Quest in the factory. Toyota SA will also be building the Corolla Cross hybrid model, the first hybrid model to be built in SA. It will likely be the most affordable hybrid model as it won't be subject to the premium tax that imported hybrids all have to endure. 

Toyota plans to export the Corolla Cross to over 43 countries in Africa. The new vehicle build comes on the back of a R2.43 billion investment at the plant generating around 500 new jobs directly and a further 1 000 jobs in the automotive supply chain.