Getting sensible with the Toyota Corolla Quest

The Corolla Quest arrived with 4,000km on the clock.
The Corolla Quest arrived with 4,000km on the clock.
Image: Waldo Swiegers

If you are talking about motoring archetypes, the Toyota Corolla is to modest family sedans what the Porsche 911 is to the sports car world.

OK, fine. That cross-reference was an attempt at sprinkling some sex appeal on the Japanese nameplate. But truth be told, the Corolla in its latest iteration is a pretty dazzling thing.

And then there’s the Quest: a bit less pizazz, but truly wholesome in the areas that the average car buyer prioritises.

For the next nine months we are going to immerse ourselves in what the Corolla range has to offer. Starting with the humbler Quest, then moving on to the spiffy hatchback and saloon versions of the breed.

Interior features include keyless go, leather upholstery, rain-sensing wipers, cruise control, climate control, reverse camera, steering-mounted controls and an infotainment system with Bluetooth.
Interior features include keyless go, leather upholstery, rain-sensing wipers, cruise control, climate control, reverse camera, steering-mounted controls and an infotainment system with Bluetooth.
Image: Waldo Swiegers

We reported positively on the Corolla Quest after driving it at launch early in 2020. Even though its existence was premised on the idea of taking a previous-generation model and de-contenting it to arrive at a competitive price-point, one struggled to tell.

The aspects that made the original 11th generation Corolla from 2013 so good were still very much evident, from build quality to fuss-free road manners.

Our test car is the range-topping 1.8 Exclusive model equipped with a continuously-variable transmission (CVT). This is the weakest point of the experience, but we will get to that in a bit.

Pricing for the Quest kicks off at R271,800 for the basic manual version, which is also powered by a 1.8-litre engine (they all are). Our car goes for R342,200 and has every amenity expected.

Keyless go, leather upholstery, rain-sensing wipers, cruise control, climate control, reverse camera, steering-mounted controls and an infotainment system with Bluetooth and — gasp — a CD-player! My two-disc Luther Vandross special was dusted off for the application. A USB port is also on offer for more modern tastes.

Fuel consumption is currently sitting at 8.6l/100km.
Fuel consumption is currently sitting at 8.6l/100km.
Image: Waldo Swiegers

The initial 400km spent with the Quest was unremarkable in the best possible way. It just goes about its business as an anonymous and effortless commuter with appreciable comfort.

Sure, you can work the 103kW and 173Nm out of its normally-aspirated four-cylinder. But what deterred me from mashing the pedal down was the strained noise that would ensue. That CVT has a tendency to allow the engine to groan its heart out. My approach to piloting the Quest was to pile on the momentum gradually, using the accelerator with my middle toe, not my heel.

This is the kind of gentle driving style that would earn an Uber operator a five-star rating.

TOYOTA COROLLA QUEST: UPDATE 1

ODOMETER ON DELIVERY: 4,000km

CURRENT ODOMETER: 4,448km

AVERAGE CONSUMPTION: 8.6l/100km

PRAISES: Comfortable, subtle and well-equipped

GRIPES: That CVT drone!


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