Hi­ace sales jug­ger­naut rolls on

New Zealand LCV - - 2017VAN GUIDE | TOYOTA HIACE -

TOY­OTA’S HI­ACE RE­MAINS NEW ZEALAND’S BIG­GEST-SELL­ING van by a con­sid­er­able mar­gin, and its sales are show­ing no signs of flag­ging.

In fact, they’re go­ing from strength-to-strength, and the Hi­ace has been NZ’S best-sell­ing van for more than 20 years run­ning. Toy­ota gave the van a ma­jor re­vamp in 2015, but the changes were largely un­der the skin, though Toy­ota added two new body styles to the short­wheel­base ZL range.

The re­freshed Hi­ace doesn’t look much dif­fer­ent to its pre­de­ces­sor, and it re­tains the top-hinged tail­gate/rear door, and the out-of-fash­ion cab-over-engine lay­out. There has been spec­u­la­tion about a new Hi­ace – orig­i­nally ex­pected to de­but this year – but Toy­ota NZ sticks stub­bornly to its pol­icy of re­fus­ing to talk ab out fu­ture prod­uct.

The big news in the 2015 re­vamps was the ad­di­tion of elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol (ESC) across the Hi­ace range.

ESC be­came com­pul­sory on all new vans mar­keted af­ter July 1, 2015, and de­spite sug­ges­tions that Toy­ota couldn’t adapt the tech­nol­ogy to the ag­ing Hi­ace driv­e­line, Toy­ota NZ an­nounced late in 2014 that it would in­deed of­fer the safety tech­nol­ogy on its vans from early 2015.

Not be­ing able to of­fer ESC would have meant hav­ing to with­draw the Hi­ace and re­place it with an­other model, pos­si­bly the re­badged Peu­geot Ex­pert that Toy­ota sells in Europe as the Proace.

Do­ing that would have left the brand with­out a large van to re­place the long-wheel­base, wide-bod­ied ZX.

ESC, which Toy­ota calls Ve­hi­cle Dy­namic Con­trol (VDC) was part of a safety suite up­grade that Toy­ota NZ added to the Hi­ace range.

The up­grade also in­cluded Trac­tion Con­trol, Brake As­sist and Hill­start As­sist.

VDC elim­i­nated one bar­rier to in­creased sales – the grow­ing num­ber of op­er­a­tors who are be­com­ing more safety-con­scious and want the best-pos­si­ble safety pack­age for themselves or their em­ploy­ees.

That, of course, in­cludes govern­ment de­part­ments – tra­di­tion­ally a key cus­tomer for Hi­aces – which in­sist on their ve­hi­cles hav­ing safety kit like elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol.

VDC across the range means the Hi­ace can now be added to the list of pos­si­ble choices for safety-con­scious van buy­ers.

Toy­ota says the two new body styles have been added to the 12-model ZL range as a re­sult of cus­tomer feed­back.

The fa­mil­iar five-door body style with full-length side-win­dows con­tin­ues for both the mid-sized ZL and the large ZX Hi­aces, and has been joined by new full- and half-panel body ZLS.

A sec­ond row of seats – with seat­ing for three pas­sen­gers – is an op­tion on the full glass and half-panel vans. The seats can fold for­ward to be stowed against the cargo area front when they’re not be­ing used.

The wide-bod­ied long wheel­base ZX model has a cargo vol­ume of 9.8 cu­bic me­tres and a GVW of 3150kg.

The big­ger van rides on the same wheel and tyre sized pack­age as the ZL.

All Hi­aces have front disc brakes and rear drums with an ABS anti-lock sys­tem and Brake As­sist (BA). The brakes are strong and pro­gres­sive and in hard driv­ing dur­ing LCV mag­a­zine test­ing proved to be ex­cel­lent and fade-free

Toy­ota says the new ZL body styles, with solid steel side pan­els hid­ing all or part of the cargo area, “of­fer tradies look­ing for ex­tra prac­ti­cal­ity and on-board se­cu­rity even greater choice.”

The ex­tra sheet­metal im­proves se­cu­rity, and busi­nesses trans­port­ing per­ish­able items such as food prod­ucts car­ried at am­bi­ent tem­per­a­ture will ben­e­fit from the po­ten­tially cooler, darker cargo space.

Toy­ota says the pan­els pro­vide in­creased re­in­forc­ing, and op­er­a­tors look­ing to cus­tomise the load­space also ben­e­fit from fewer win­dows to work around when im­ple­ment­ing their fit-out.

The ex­tra sheet­metal will also pro­vide a bet­ter “can­vas” for sign­writ­ing.

The four-door full-panel and five-door half-panel bod­ies are avail­able in ZL spec­i­fi­ca­tion, with the wide-open­ing side doors pro­vid­ing good ac­cess to the load space.

The ZL model is avail­able with a choice of 2.7-litre petrol or 3.0-litre diesel en­gines across both full glass and full panel body styles, with five-speed man­ual or four-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion.

The full panel petrol van is avail­able only with the five-speed man­ual, and the glass bod­ied petrol ZL of­fers a six-speed au­to­matic gear­box op­tion.

The ZL half-panel vari­ant is sold in only one spec­i­fi­ca­tion, with the 3.0-litre diesel engine and au­to­matic trans­mis­sion.

The re­vised front cabin seat­ing in all mod­els – twin buck­ets in­stead of a driver’s seat and bench for two pas­sen­ger – al­lows room for a new stor­age unit in the cen­tre front row to take a lap­top com­puter, work­books, tablets or a lunch­box.

Stan­dard safety equip­ment on all Hi­aces in­cludes airbags and three-point seat­belts for the driver and front seat pas­sen­ger.

Mod­els with the sec­ond row bench seat have three-point belts for the outer pas­sen­gers and a two-pointer for the per­son in the cen­tre of the seat.

The ZX has a re­vers­ing cam­era which dis­plays in the rear-view mir­ror.

Fuel econ­omy de­pends on model and engine, but Toy­ota quotes com­bined cy­cle fig­ures of 8.0 litres/100km for the 3.0-litre diesel five­door ZL with man­ual gear­box and 10.2 litres/100km for the man­ual 2.7-litre petrol five-door ZL.

Quoted prices start at $46,830 for the 2.7-litre ZL petrol-en­gined man­ual and rise to $58,330 for the 3.0-litre diesel au­to­matic. The most ex­pen­sive model in the range is the

3.0-litre diesel-en­gined, 12-seat Minibus with au­to­matic gear­box, list­ing for $67,280.

Toy­ota sold 2600 Hi­aces in 2016, an in­crease of 113 over the pre­vi­ous year and more than 1500 ahead of last year’s sec­ond-placed van, the Hyundai iload.

This year it has been sell­ing at the rate of around 200 a month and by April 30, regis­tra­tions sat at 973, a sig­nif­i­cant rise over the 798 it achieved in the same pe­riod of 2016.

It seems there’s plenty more life in the old cam­paigner.

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