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Corolla Quest – New or deja vu?

Taking an outgoing model, repackaging it into an affordable product and thus extending its lifespan is not a new strategy. Volkswagen came up with this market strategy more than three decades ago with the highly successful VW Golf, which subsequently took on various iterations of the Citi Golf series and went on to become a textbook case study on how to keep a model selling for over 30 years. The VW Vivo is another example of this highly successful marketing strategy.

Other companies have also tried it, but none have been as successful as Toyota with its Tazz and Corolla Quest ranges, which continued selling alongside their newer siblings albeit at a lower price. Consumers, who were more concerned with value-for-money than driving the latest shape, bought into the idea.

Toyota’s old slogan: “Everything keeps going right” is one that cannot be taken for granted anymore. Times have changed and while reliability, durability and value-for-money are still major priorities, buyers are demanding more comfort, space and style for less money. So, while the 12th generation Corolla is readying for release in South Africa in the second quarter of this year, Toyota SA has cleverly decided to relaunch the outgoing Corolla as the new Quest thus offering the space and comfort of a C-segment sedan at a B-segment price.

First launched in 2014, the Corolla Quest sold 63 966 units making them highly popular among small families, rental companies and ride-hail taxi services at a time when SUVs are all the rage.

At the launch Toyota was adamant that the new Quest, based on the previous generation Corolla, was not just a de-specced model. Instead it underwent a thorough development programme aimed at maintaining the quality, reliability and durability level, while implementing cost reduction to the ultimate benefit of the customer. There are three models available in different specification levels: Standard, Prestige and Exclusive.

One would be hard-pressed to identify any noticeable differences in the new Quest, but when parked next to the outgoing Corolla, one will notice slight changes to the front fascia, bumpers, headlight trim and more significantly, the front fog-lamps which have now been phased out. At the rear, the number plate garnish has been changed from chrome to body colour.

The Corolla Quest comes in three 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.

A great decision was to employ the 1.8l mill which produces 10 kW and 173Nm at 4000rpm across the three-model range. One of the advantages of the 1.8l engine is that the torque figure is not only higher but also produced 1 200rpm earlier, compared to the 1.6. fuel consumption listed as 7.0l/100km for manual models and 6.3l/100km for models equipped with the automatic option – which Toyota claims is actually better than the outgoing 1.6l mill.

All Quest models now come with driver, passenger and driver-knee airbags – while the Prestige and Exclusive models receive side airbags too. Vehicle Stability Control with Hill Assist Control, ABS, EBD, Isofix, LED daytime running lights and rear fog lights are standard across the board. All models also feature auto door-lock with remote operation, electric windows, air-conditioner, steering wheel switches, follow-me-home headlamps, radio/CD with USB, Aux and a minimum of four integrated speakers.

The Prestige models receive an upgrade to a touchscreen DVD audio system with six speakers, reverse camera, cruise control, leather steering wheel, combination fabric and leather seats plus 16-inch alloy wheels. The Exclusive grade adds auto air-conditioner, push start with keyless entry, TFT-colour instrument cluster, leather seats, rain-sensing wipers and LED headlamps.

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