Ultimate value offer?
BRIAN BASSETT ponders on reincarnations in a Toyota Corolla Quest 1.6l
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.
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.
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.
Buy local for the best bargain: a Quest goes through its final insepction at Prospecton.