The out­ra­geously-styled Toy­ota Tonka HiLux is no toy

Pilbara News - - Motoring - Alis­tair Kennedy

We’re all fa­mil­iar by now with the “Mad Monday” phe­nom­e­non where boofy blokes dress up in out­ra­geous cos­tumes and make pests of them­selves to cel­e­brate their sport­ing vic­to­ries.

Hav­ing just won the mo­tor­ing equivalent of a grand fi­nal win with its HiLux ute — out­selling all its ri­vals in the 2016 sales race — Toy­ota has de­cided to cel­e­brate in Mad Monday style by team­ing up with toy truck maker Tonka to build an out­ra­geously styled con­cept ute.

Both Tonka and Toy­ota are house­hold names and cel­e­brate an­niver­saries in 2017 — Tonka its 70th an­niver­sary and Toy­ota its 80th year of in­cor­po­ra­tion.

Toy­ota should get a free-kick out of the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment’s re­cent de­ci­sion to up­grade the Snowy Moun­tains hy­dro-elec­tric scheme given that LandCruiser made its Aus­tralian de­but in the early years of the orig­i­nal scheme.

The brain­child of Toy­ota Aus­tralia’s 150-strong prod­uct plan­ning and devel­op­ment di­vi­sion, the HiLux Tonka Con­cept was built on the range-top­ping HiLux SR5 dou­ble cab with its 2.8-litre four-cylin­der turbo-diesel en­gine.

It was then given an ex­tra 150mm of ground clear­ance, high-rid­ing axle, heavy-duty sus­pen­sion and 35-inch di­am­e­ter tyres.

The bon­net has a car­bon-fi­bre skin topped by a large power bulge and air scoops. For un­der­body pro­tec­tion, there is a rugged bash plate made from 6mm-thick al­loy while tubu­lar side rails pro­tect the body and chas­sis.

While the footy blokes go on a pub crawl, Toy­ota, with lead­ing rally driver Rick Bates be­hind the wheel, took us on a mud and rock crawl at the cus­tom-built in­door course at Sydney’s Aus­tralian Tech­nol­ogy Park. Sadly, the Tonka HiLux is a con­cept ve­hi­cle and will re­main so with no plans for it to go into pro­duc­tion.

Like the footy play­ers, though, it will how­ever be go­ing on an end-of-sea­son trip, tak­ing in four-wheeldrive shows, field days and ex­pos around the coun­try.

What will be avail­able is a new street ver­sion of HiLux built in con­junc­tion with Toy­ota’s TRD (Toy­ota Rac­ing Devel­op­ment) parts di­vi­sion.

With more than half of all HiLux 4WD sales, the SR5 was clearly Toy­ota’s 2016 player of the year and so, like the Tonka, was the log­i­cal vari­ant to be used for the TRD model. It has 15 new com­po­nents over the stan­dard SR5, seven of them from TRD.

The most no­table addition is a bright red TRD-branded skid plate that sits be­low new TRD black grille, lower bumper cover and fen­der flares.

There is a black sports bar, black side steps and black mould­ings at the lead­ing edge of the bon­net and along the side.

The rear fea­tures a soft ton­neau cover, ute liner, tail-light cov­ers, TRD mud­flaps and tow­ing kit.

The black 18-inch six-spoke al­loy wheels look puny along­side the Tonka’s monster truck 35-inch­ers.

When it comes to ex­te­rior colours, the choice is black and white.

Inside there are TRD car­pet floor mats and leather-ac­cented trim.

Power comes from Toy­ota’s 2.8litre 130kW turbo-diesel en­gine with a healthy 420Nm of torque with the six-speed man­ual and 450Nm with the six-speed auto.

Stan­dard fea­tures in­clude re­vers­ing cam­era, key­less en­try, trailer sway con­trol, hill start as­sist and down­hill as­sist con­trol (auto only).

In­fo­tain­ment is catered for by satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion, Toy­ota Link con­nec­tiv­ity, digital ra­dio, Blue­tooth and voice recog­ni­tion.

New TRD HiLux comes in ei­ther white ($58,990 man­ual and $60,990 auto) or black ($59,540 and $61,540). These are drive­away prices.

Pic­ture: Bob Seary

The Toy­ota HiLux Tonka Con­cept is plenty of fun.

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