Higher than HiLux

Toy­ota’s Tun­dra has landed

Herald Sun - Motoring - - News - JOSHUA DOWLING NA­TIONAL MO­TOR­ING EDI­TOR joshua.dowling@news.com.au Twit­ter: @JoshuaDowl­ing

THE most ad­vanced pick-up truck ever sold in Aus­tralia has ar­rived and it’s come from an un­likely source.

Toy­ota’s new Tun­dra can dic­tate text mes­sages while you’re on the move, has a blindspot warn­ing sys­tem once exclusive to lux­ury cars, and a “cross-traf­fic alert” that de­tects other mov­ing ve­hi­cles as you re­verse out of a park­ing spot.

But you won’t find the Toy­ota HiLux’s big­ger brother at a Toy­ota dealer.

The US-only model comes via Queens­land-based right­hand-drive con­ver­sion spe­cial­ists Per­for­max, who’ve been mov­ing steer­ing wheels from left to right for 25 years.

The com­pany that started out con­vert­ing Corvettes now dom­i­nates the heavy-duty pick‒up mar­ket, im­port­ing, con­vert­ing and sell­ing about 300 Chevro­let Sil­ver­ado pick‒ups each year — de­spite most of them cost­ing more than $140,000, three times their US price.

Per­for­max also con­verts a few Dodge Ram pick-ups and, later this year, is due to get govern­ment ap­proval to start im­port­ing, con­vert­ing and sell­ing the new Ford F-Se­ries, North Amer­ica’s top-sell­ing pick-up for the past 34 years.

Be­cause of the pop­u­lar­ity of the Toy­ota HiLux lo­cally, Per­for­max be­gan im­port­ing the Tun­dra from the US in 2012, even though it’s not avail­able with a diesel en­gine, which is favoured by most ute buy­ers and those need­ing to tow.

The Tun­dra is pow­ered by a 5.7 litre, quad-cam petrol V8 (284kW and 543Nm) mated to six-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion and an on-de­mand four-wheel drive sys­tem.

Be­cause the Tun­dra is clas­si­fied as a “truck”, it can legally tow 4 tonnes, whereas the Ford Ranger, Mazda BT-50, and Holden Colorado tow ca­pac­i­ties peak at 3500kg. Priced from $118,990, the 2014 Toy­ota Tun­dra Plat­inum is more than twice the price of a top-line HiLux.

But it un­der­cuts the Chevro­let Sil­ver­ado — pow­ered by a mas­sive 6.6-litre turbo diesel V8 with 1037Nm of torque and able to tow 11 tonnes — by about $15,000.

Per­for­max says it ex­pects to sell be­tween 50 and 100 Tun­dras each year.

“Even though the Tun­dra is not avail­able with a diesel en­gine, buy­ers just love that Toy­ota badge,” says Per­for­max gen­eral man­ager Glenn Soper. “It turns al­most as many heads as the Ca­maro.”

To con­vert the Tun­dra and other ve­hi­cles Per­for­max welds in a new fire­wall (be­tween the cabin and the en­gine bay), makes a be­spoke steer­ing sys­tem that uses the orig­i­nal’s in­ter­nal parts, and uses com­puter and ac­tual 3D modelling to cre­ate a mir­ror im­age of the dash­board and ven­ti­la­tion sys­tems.

Con­verted US pick-ups do not need to be crash-tested to de­ter­mine whether they meet Aus­tralian stan­dards be­cause they are clas­si­fied as a heavy ve­hi­cle. But the com­pany says all airbags and airbag sen­sors are re­tained and should per­form as the man­u­fac­turer in­tended.

The Aus­tralian New Car As­sess­ment Pro­gram or any other in­de­pen­dent author­ity is yet to crash test a US ve­hi­cle that has been con­verted to right-hand-drive.

Toy­ota Aus­tralia says it is no closer to im­port­ing the Tun­dra be­cause it be­lieves it would not sell enough of them to jus­tify the cost of de­vel­op­ing a fac­tory‒built RHD model. The lack of a diesel en­gine also blunts its chances.

Lux­ury price tag: Toy­ota’s Tun­dra is a $125,000 ute

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.