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February 19, 2023

The Toyota Corolla Cross GR Sport Hybrid Is Built For Work And Play

There has been so much ado when it comes to the discussion of electrification in the country. Is it coming? Is it here? When will the Philippines finally transition to more sustainable mobility? Why is the government taking so long in extending legislative support? While most of the luxury brands have continued to launch EV after EV, in an effort to provide Filipinos next-level mobility, Toyota has taken a more practical and, dare we say, simpler route while still providing motorists a taste of what it means to shift to a more sustainable mode of transport.

You will notice that the current range offered by Toyota is filled largely by hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs). To put it simply, HEVs are powered by a combination of an internal combustion engine and an electric motor. This makes it practical for a country that is still lacking EV infrastructure because the electric motor does not require an external charger. Rather, it is charged through regenerative braking (like every time you step on the brakes) and by the gasoline engine itself. By working together, it offers better fuel economy without compromising driving performance.

Toyota clearly knows what it’s doing, as it expands its hybrid range to include the Toyota Corolla Cross GR-S. Bearing the Gazoo Racing badge meant that this variant of the Corolla Cross Hybrid should satisfy the demand for an aesthetically sporty crossover, while still providing a well-rounded and practical package. While the standard Corolla Cross Hybrid leaves much to be desired in the visual aspect, the GR-S HEV corrects this. The new grille, set atop the two-tone appearance (complete with gloss black side mirrors), silver-colored skirts and overriders, and saw-blade like 18-inch alloy wheels make it look less frumpy and more dynamic.

Not going to lie—the 1.8-liter 4-cylinder is not made for road racing. Instead, being a hybrid means it’ll extract the most out of every drop of fuel. It starts up quietly, with just a dash indicator that tells you it’s ready to go. Although there are changeable driving modes here, leaving the Corolla Cross GR-S Hybrid to do its thing results in stupendous levels of fuel economy. Reaching 18 km/L even with a heavy right foot is easy. Of course, being a hybrid, you’ll still have to gas up when the fuel needle goes down, so it’s best to go for a fuel designed for maximizing fuel efficiency and combustion like Petron XCS.

Designed for the urban adventurer, the Corolla Cross GR-S Hybrid is built for the multitasker—the individual who lives a fast-paced lifestyle on the daily, and recharges through leisurely activities on the weekend. For that, this crossover bundles not just efficiency and practicality, but smoothness and consistency as well. Not only is it comfortable in city traffic, but with its nicely-controlled body movements and light steering, it is great to take on out-of-town excursions as well.

The cabin has a no-nonsense layout with every single control point within familiar and easy reach. More than just that, it is packaged with the sort of creature comfort features you’d come to expect in this class such as power adjustable seats, large 8-inch infotainment system with smartphone mirroring, a multitude of charging ports, several well-placed storage spaces, and a power tailgate. And while this tester does not have it, the latest Corolla Cross GR-S Hybrid ups the specs even more with the addition of a power sunroof.

At its core, as with any Toyota vehicle, the Corolla Cross GR-S Hybrid was primarily designed to move people and take them places, supporting them as they achieve their goals and aspirations. Being part of the GR Sport or Gazoo Racing Sport family, its sporty features and race-ready appeal complement the heart of an adventurer, making it a car to be proud of everyday. Together with its gasoline-electric hybrid engine, it creates an environment that is made for attainable next-level mobility while the rest of the industry shuffles to get there.

Words and Photos by Gen Tiu

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