PLAYING IN THE SAND
Remember those old Tonka trucks that you used to play with as a child? Toyota Australia recently used the Tonka brand as inspiration to create a Hilux that’ll excite children of all ages.
TTrucks is one of the ubiquitous brands that have become part of our culture. Just about everyone knows what a Tonka truck is. Sadly, Tonka doesn’t have much of a presence in South Africa these days, but there are plenty of imitators around. When you close your eyes and conjure up an image of a toy truck, it’s a Tonka that you’re seeing.
Of course, Tonka doesn’t just make trucks and other commercial vehicles. These still exist, but the toy line has been expanded to also include bakkies and SUVs. So, when Toyota Australia recently decided to celebrate the fact that the Hilux had been named the best-selling Australian vehicle for 2016, it decided to partner with Tonka to create the ultimate off-road toy.
The new concept was designed, assembled and tested by designers and engineers from Toyota Australia’s 150-strong product planning and development division. Product design chief Nicolas Hogios said the extreme style and capability of the Hilux Tonka Concept was created to capture the imagination of kids and adults alike.
“We have taken Tonka out of the sandpit and reinvented Hilux from top to bottom and from nose to tail,” he said. “Inspired by the Tonka trucks that kids play with in their backyards, it goes way beyond the already huge abilities of Hilux to traverse rocks and other rugged terrain. It is also dramatic evidence that our local team loves to have fun, we’re keen to explore new ideas and we’re always looking to push the boundaries of what’s possible.”
Underneath the dramatic black-and-yellow livery is a top-of-the-range production Hilux: a double cab with a powerful 2.8-litre turbo-diesel engine. The extensive makeover starts with substantially higher ground clearance, an increase in ride height of 150mm. Combined with a high-riding axle, heavy-duty suspension and 35-inch diameter tyres, the Hilux Tonka Concept is equipped to power over rugged terrain that would be off-limits to many conventional off-roaders.
A new front bar is compatible with the vehicle’s safety systems, while the bonnet has a carbonfibre skin and features a “power bulge” and air scoops. Highperformance off-road LED lighting in the bar and roof pod provide extra night vision for offroad trails, while a rugged bash plate made from 6mm-thick alloy guards the sump and other vital parts. Tubular side rails protect the body and chassis.
Behind the cabin, the transformation includes a new carbon fibre-wrapped tailgate (released by a lightweight strap rather than handle), with an integrated spoiler and air vents. In the load bay, a removable tubular frame keeps all the gear in place – including fuel cans – while storage boxes house the recovery gear needed for extreme off-road driving. A fire extinguisher, axe, shovel and high-lift jack are also fitted.
While the Hilux Tonka Concept won’t make it to showrooms around the world, it offers a glimpse of what is possible when a great team of engineers and designers put their heads together. The unveiling coincides with the release of Toyota GB’s series of short films which show Hilux going head to head with its tiny Tamiya radiocontrolled model counterpart in a series of off-road and performance challenges. You can find these entertaining videos on YouTube.