Ul­ti­mate value of­fer?

BRIAN BAS­SETT pon­ders on rein­car­na­tions in a Toy­ota Corolla Quest 1.6l

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING -

REIN­CAR­NA­TION is a com­mon theme in the South African mo­tor in­dus­try and mod­els which might have been phased out have their life­cy­cles pro­longed and are sold into the mar­ket­place as good value cars.

Th­ese cars al­ways sell in num­bers, ap­peal­ing both to pri­vate buy­ers seek­ing dura­bil­ity and good value, as well as to fleet buy­ers, who look at the bot­tom line and the need to keep costs down with­out sac­ri­fic­ing qual­ity.

Here I think of cars like the Volk­swa­gen Cit­igolf, the Ford Figo, un­til re­cently a 5th gen­er­a­tion Fi­esta clone, as well as the Toy­ota Tazz, which car con­tin­ued to sell on the South African mar­ket for 10 years af­ter it had been phased out in the rest of the world.

The Toy­ota Quest is in many ways a rein­car­na­tion of the wildly pop­u­lar 10th gen­er­a­tion Corolla. Our thanks to Deon Olivier, new ve­hi­cle sales man­ager at McCarthy Toy­ota Pi­eter­mar­itzburg for making the ve­hi­cle avail­able to us for a short while.

Styling

Buy­ers of the Toy­ota Quest usu­ally seek a proven prod­uct backed by a recog­nis­able badge rather than flam­boy­ant de­sign, al­though Toy­ota have added a lit­tle here and sub­tracted a lit­tle there and cre­ated a very hand­some car rem­i­nis­cent of its pre­de­ces­sor, but still its own man and very much Toy­ota.

The car has tweaked head­lights and a front end which seems to flow ef­fort­lessly up­ward from the black front grille across the wide bon­net to a quite high roof, bol­stered by high­pan­eled sides. The rear is dom­i­nated by re­designed tail lights and the side in­di­ca­tors have been shifted from the door mir­rors to the fend­ers. The car also has a more elon­gated shape than the pre­vi­ous Corolla to house the en­larged boot.

In­te­rior

The in­te­rior of the Quest re­tains its qual­ity feel and the seats are cov­ered in ro­bust cloth. The car shares its front seats with the cur­rent Corolla pro­mot­ing economies of scale. The seats are com­fort­able and fully ad­justable. The steer­ing is tele­scopic and tilt, but there is no mul­ti­func­tion steer­ing wheel avail­able in any of the three mod­els in the range.

The in­te­rior is spa­cious and the car is a full five-seater. The driv­ing po­si­tion, as with its pre­de­ces­sor, is very com­fort­able and the ana­logue di­als, backed by dig­i­tal in­for­ma­tion ar­eas is both suf­fi­cient for the driver’s needs and can be viewed with­out los­ing sight of the road.

Air con­di­tion­ing is ef­fec­tive and the front win­dows op­er­ate elec­tri­cally, as do the two side mir­rors.

The rear bench is un­for­tu­nately now fixed, but the boot be­hind it can take 450 litres of lug­gage, enough for the av­er­age fam­ily’s hol­i­day.

The car loses an over­head con­sole; map read­ing light and sun vi­sor van­ity light and the cloth door in­serts on the pre­vi­ous Corolla are re­placed with vinyl, while the car­pets are made lo­cally, just like the car.

Most of the edited fea­tures are triv­ial, but I really missed the ra­dio/CD/USB/Aux set-up, which is only avail­able on the Plus model. Nonethe­less it is eas­ily pos­si­ble to have a good sys­tem in­stalled lo­cally.

Safety and se­cu­rity

Here the car per­forms well. Toy­ota knows it will carry fam­i­lies. The car has ABS/EBD, Emer­gency Brake As­sist, dual front airbags, ISOFIX an­chor points and re­mote cen­tral lock­ing and im­mo­bi­lizer.

Per­for­mance and han­dling

The Quest has the 1ZR-FE en­gine used in the cur­rent Corolla. It is a four-cylin­der, 1,6 litre petrol en­gine driv­ing the front wheels via an easy-chang­ing sixspeed man­ual, or four-speed auto gear­box. The en­gine pro­duces 90 kW/154 Nm, so the car has oomph. Zero to 100 km/h ar­rives in around 10,5 sec­onds, while top speed is 195 km/h for the man­ual model and 185 km/h for the auto model.

Toy­ota en­gines are ef­fi­cient and fuel consumption comes in at about 6,8 litres per 100 km. The driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence is pleas­ant and re­fined.

The car feels sub­stan­tial from be­hind the wheel and with the man­ual box, which I pre­fer, it is re­spon­sive and will­ing.

In town the ride qual­ity comes into its own and park­ing at shop­ping cen­tres is easy, al­though I must say that I missed a park as­sist func­tion when park­ing the ve­hi­cle in the city cen­tre but, once again you can have one in­stalled at lit­tle cost.

On the high­way the car per­forms su­perbly.

All you have to do is to get to know the gear ra­tios and at 3 000 rpm it will pass any­thing eas­ily. I also took the car onto the D-roads and was pleas­antly sur­prised. At speed on gravel or sand the Quest is ab­so­lutely stable and easy to drive. It al­most en­cour­ages you to push the driv­ing en­ve­lope.

Costs and com­pe­ti­tion

The Quest is al­most the ul­ti­mate good value propo­si­tion.

The list price for the en­try model is R185 700; the Auto is R199 900 and the Plus R198 900.

Th­ese days the pa­pers are full of spe­cial of­fers on th­ese cars and in one case I saw a dealer offering R10 000 off the price and the prom­ise of a spec­tac­u­lar deal on your trade-in. Toy­ota is clearly us­ing the Quest to get new cus­tomers for the brand.

Also look at the Honda Ballade, Suzuki Ciaz, Volk­swa­gen Polo and Kia Rio sedan.

PHOTO: QUICK­PIC

Buy lo­cal for the best bar­gain: a Quest goes through its fi­nal in­sepc­tion at Prospec­ton.

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