R98 500 … that’s a big chunk of change. Now that I’ve swapped seats and well and truly ensconced myself into the Toyota Corolla Quest, every time I find myself missing a comfort or convenience item I had become accustomed to in the Hatch, I simply remind myself of that price difference: R98 500! The Quest Exclusive auto in my care retails for R343 900 and with the range starting from as little as R278 400 with the newly added six-speed manual Quest Plus, there is even better value to be had if you buy further down the pecking order.
Adaptive cruise control that paces the vehicle to the car in front? Nope, the Quest doesn’t have that. You must adjust your speed yourself with input on the throttle and brake pedal based on prevailing traffic conditions … a novel idea that. Blindspot monitoring? Once again, there’s no orange flicker in your wing mirror to alert you to the presence of another vehicle in your vicinity (not that I find such systems much worth anyway, often continuing to alert the driver long after you’ve cleared the potential obstacle).
Instead, in the Quest, it’s preferable to take a cursory glance to see there’s no one there before changing lanes. Imagine that, taking caution yourself! These active aids of Toyota’s Safety Sense (TSS) package – which we showcased in a consumer feature in the May 2021 issue – are the most affordable of their sort in South Africa and are a wonderful safety aid, but you can get along in life just fine without them, as I’ve learnt in my Quest over the past two months.
There is something I could do with though, and that’s a working USB charge point and the associated iPhone connectivity. Launched just prior to COVID-19 lockdown in 2020, a colleague mentioned that the launch vehicle he drove didn’t have a functioning USB port back then. So, it’s presumably an issue limited to only some of the first batch of cars out of the Prospecton plant. Likewise, the rear-window demister button – positioned just above the faulty USB port – is also inoperable. As a result, I’ve been listening to more Smile FM than I would ordinarily (my wife’s preferred radio station), and a clear view out the back is not always guaranteed. Thankfully, the Exclusive comes with an excellent rear-view camera, so there have been no parking slip-ups.
Mechanically, with more than 15 000 km on the clock, there are no issues to report. The Quest feels bulletproof, its naturally aspirated 1,8-litre engine produces a meaty 103 kW and 173 N.m of torque, and overall driveability is satisfactory. The CVT unobtrusively goes about its business and the only time intervention is required is on a downhill stretch when the transmission “gears down” by default, which spikes the revs and creates quite a din. In that case, you simply move the gear selector across into manual and tap it sequentially back to its top step. The Quest’s electronics allow this driver override to happen easier than in the turbocharged Hatch, which probably accounts for the better fuel economy figure.
Oh, before I forget, in two months I’ve only once been mistaken for an Uber. To be honest, I was hoping it would happen more regularly to add some spice to these updates. Pulling up to the entrance of Constantia Glen wine estate for a team lunch, while doing the prerequisite COVID-19 sign-ins and temperature checks at security, two young women wandered over and asked rather incessantly if I was the ride they’d been waiting for. I had to dissuade them, of course, but I did briefly consider telling them that Marius – CAR’s most eligible bachelor – would be along shortly in a red Mahindra and would probably be more than willing to assist.