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CAR REVIEW (LAUNCH REPORT): TOYOTA HILUX

Toyota has thrown a spanner in my works

Whenever anyone asks me which bakkie they should consider buying I always say the same thing, “If you want a workhorse and are not too concerned about comfort, get a Toyota Hilux. If you want something for the city and want to be comfortable, then buy a Volkswagen Amarok. And if you want something that can be both and looks good, go for a Ford Ranger.” The new Hilux has just been launched in South Africa and it has completely thrown a spanner in my works! I can no longer say what I always say.

Launched globally back in 1968, this is the 8th generation Hilux (7th in South Africa) and it has seen 16 million units sold. South Africa has bought more than 1 million units since the first 1,5-litre Hilux was launched here in 1969. It has been the market leader in South Africa since 1973 and was the overall best selling vehicle for 2015.

Toyota wants to create a “new era of tough” with this Hilux. Remember the episode of Top Gear in 2003? Imagine trying to top this kind of tough! Look, Hilux is many things to many people. No matter what level you are at, whether it be a farmer, an executive or a housewife, you can love a Hilux. “Toughness is the most most important element for Hilux customers,” so says senior manager for marketing planning, Aidan Castille. Research also revealed that Hilux customers wanted Toyota to enhance comfort, modernise the design, enhance performance and fuel consumption, focus on safety and retain the low cost of ownership. Toyota managed to deliver on all of these requests! And comfort is where Toyota really delivered in my books.

The cabin is more refined than it has ever been. It feels elegant, solid and has that SUV-like feel about it which is something the Amarok has been able to boast about for years It feels like you are driving a passenger car and Toyota has managed to replicate that passenger car-like feel, maybe not as well as Volkswagen has done with the Amarok, but good enough. There is a new audio system with a tablet-like floating design 7-inch touchscreen which looks and feels upmarket. It also has a multi-information display which is a first for Hilux and it has USB, AUX, a dual compartment glovebox with cooling and heating (on higher grade models) and multiple cup and bottle holders.

Most notably for me was the comfort of the seats and the ride quality. These were two issues I had with the previous design, it could sometimes feel as if I were driving a tractor. Well not anymore. Thanks to the underpinning on an all-new frame and a double-wishbone front suspension design and leaf-spring type suspension with twin shock absorbers in the rear, the new Hilux is smooth, really smooth, especially off-road. On the tar, there could still be room for improvement, but not much. The seats are comfortable and I was able to find the perfect driving position. Unfortunately, my driving partner struggled with the steering column not coming out far enough for his long arms.

Hilux is known for its off-road capabilities and Toyota has merely made things simpler for their customers. The new Hilux is available in part-time four-wheel-drive derivatives, building on the acclaim of its forefathers. A highlight of the new system is the electronic rotary 4WD switch housed within the dashboard, which replaces the previously employed ‘second gear lever’. The driver can select between 2WD, 4WD and 4WD with low range, up to speeds of 50 km/h.

The new Hilux is fitted with an array of driver assist features such as Active Traction Control, Hill-Start Assist, and Downhill Assist Control. The exterior design, although recognisably Hilux, is clean and sleek. The grille is wider, tail lights larger and it comes in two new colours, namely Arizona Blue and Cosmic Red.

Three petrol engines will be on offer, namely a 2,0-litre, a 2,7-litre and the familiar 4,0-litre V6 which delivers 175 kW and 326 N.m of torque. The new GD (diesel) engines on offer include a 2,4-litre and a 2,8-litre guise which see the 2,5-litre and 3,0-litre being replaced. There is also an all-new five and six-speed transmission available. The five-speed is found in the workhorse models, whereas the six-speed manual and automatic transmissions can be found in the higher grade models. Both of which are incredibly slick and smooth, especially the manual. Both my driving partner and I were left impressed by the new manual transmission.

A world first for the segment is the fitment of the intelligent Manual Transmission (iMT) on selected models. iMT effectively incorporates rev-matching technology on both up – and downshifts, to provide an ultra-smooth drive as well as assisting drivers with smooth take-offs.

The same three body shapes are on offer, including the Single, Xtra and Double Cab. Just a side note,  a standout feature of the Xtra cab is the inclusion of rearward opening access doors to facilitate easy loading into the rear compartment.

“A vehicle’s heritage can carry it in to the future,” these are the words of Calvyn Hamman, Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing and as much as I believe this to be true there is still the notion that you need to meet your customer’s desires and needs otherwise they will eventually find something else. Toyota has really improved on the predecessor and like I mentioned earlier, the new Hilux has really thrown a spanner in my works. What am I going to tell people now? It was all so definitive! I guess I will just have to leave it up to the buyer because for me it is just too hard to decide…so I am not going to! You decide!

When it comes to pricing, Toyota have remained competitive. It is a rare thing when a model is cheaper than its outgoing version it replaces. Check it out below!

Single Cab: R228 900 – R435 900

Xtra cab: R333 900 – R470 900

Double cab: R377 900 – R593 900

A summary of all the models:

All models are accompanied by a 5 year or 90 000 km service plan (whichever occurs first).

Workhorse models:

  • Power windows with auto down for driver
  • Reading lamp with illuminated entry system
  • 12 volt power outlet
  • Eco indicator
  • Black electrically adjustable mirrors
  • ABS brakes
  • Driver airbag
  • Remote central locking with auto door lock
  • Anti-theft system

SRX models add:

  • Steering switches
  • Tilt and telescopic steering adjustment (Extra and Double cab)
  • Economy meter
  • Multi Information Display
  • Audio system with Radio/CD, Bluetooth and USB
  • Door ajar display
  • Over fenders
  • Side steps
  • Driver knee airbag
  • ISOFIX on double cab
  • 3-point rear centre seatbelt
  • Eco drive mode (Eco/Power switch)
  • 17″ Steel wheels

Raider models add:

  • Metallic interior accents
  • Luxury patterned seat fabric
  • Reverse camera
  • Telescopic steering column adjustment
  • Full colour TFT Multi Information Display
  • Touchscreen audio with DVD and video playback
  • Cooling function in glove compartment
  • Auto lights with follow me home
  • Daytime Running Lights (DRL)
  • Chrome grille and exterior trim
  • Wide integrated overfenders
  • Variable intermittent wipers
  • Automatic climate control
  • 2 x 12V power outlets
  • Intelligent Manual Transmission (iMT)
  • Hill Assist Control (HAC)
  • Downhill Assist Control (DAC) [4×4 models only]
  • 17″ Alloy wheels

Model Line-up

Single Cab

2.0 VVTi 5MT

2.0 VVTi 5MT A/C

2.4 GD 5MT

2.4 GD 5MT A/C

2.4 GD-6 Raised Body SRX 6MT

2.4 GD-6 4X4 SRX 6MT

2.4 GD-6 4X4 SR 6MT

2.7 VVTI Raised Body SRX 5MT

2.8 GD-6 RB Raider 6MT

2.8 GD-6 4X4 Raider 6MT

 

Xtra Cab

2.4 GD-6 Raised Body SRX 6MT

2.8 GD-6 Raised Body Raider 6MT

2.8 GD-6 4×4 Raider 6MT

Double Cab

2.4 GD-6 Raised Body  SRX 6MT

2.4 GD-6 4X4 SRX 6MT

2.4 GD-6 4X4 SR 6MT

2.7 VVTi Raised Body SRX 5MT

2.8 GD-6 Raised Body Raider 6MT

2.8 GD-6 Raised Body Raider 6AT

2.8 GD-6 4X4 Raider 6MT

2.8 GD-6 4X4 Raider 6AT

4.0 V6 Raised Body Raider 6AT

4.0 V6 4X4 Raider 6AT

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