Toy­ota Rush an all­rounder

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HO needs ele­phant bulls when they’re grumpy? They tend to throw their weight around a lot. I’ve seen a huge pachy­derm sit on a car’s bon­net, squash­ing it and rip­ping off its bumper, just be­cause it spot­ted an or­ange on the back seat from miles away. Not a pretty sight. If it had known there was an ap­ple or two in the car as well, no doubt, it would have sim­ply trunk-flipped it over on its hood to get at them.

Guess that was why Toy­ota didn’t in­clude fruit in our lunch packs when it launched its new, small, sports util­ity ve­hi­cle at Addo Ele­phant Park re­cently. I don’t think they were in the mood to send eight of them back to the fac­tory dented and on roll-back re­cov­ery trucks.

The new Toy­ota Rush trum­pets the rush on SUVs, sell­ing like hot cakes right now. They are the flavour of the time and just about ev­ery mo­tor brand has one, some­times two, on of­fer.

Some ask the ques­tion, is the Rush a baby For­tuner or a very, very new Ven­ture? Nei­ther, be­cause there is no 4x4 ver­sion and its styling is far too suave to ap­pear any­thing like the box-like Ven­ture.

Rush could be some folks’ en­trance into the SUV life­style

Ver­sa­til­ity, size with car com­fort, be­ing the key to the suc­cess of the SUV con­cept, it seems all else a mo­tor-maker needs, is a touch of vis­ual ap­peal and the sales will start ring­ing up.

At this stage, only man­ual five-speed or au­to­matic four-speed ver­sions, pow­ered by a 1.5-litre, four-cylin­der en­gine, driv­ing through the rear wheels, are avail­able.

Man­u­fac­tured and im­ported from In­done­sia, this five-seater has the fine fin­ishes and build qual­ity of some­thing straight out of Ja­pan.

On first en­coun­ter­ing the Rush, you will note the sig­nif­i­cant ride height of

W220mm and its wide-legged, John Wayne-type stance. All this gives the im­pres­sion the 215-60-R17 wheels and tyres are a bit skinny-look­ing. Looks can be de­cep­tive, though, and I could not fault the Rush’s han­dling and sta­bil­ity at speed. Wider wheels and tyres would also have pushed pric­ing up.

All the more in­ter­est­ing, as it also has to sat­isfy mild off-road re­quire­ments, and has a 600mm wad­ing depth ca­pa­bil­ity, which nor­mally neg­a­tively af­fects high speed sta­bil­ity. For don­gas there is a handy 31° frontal ap­proach an­gle and a 26.5° de­par­ture an­gle.

Like all SUVs the Rush has that slant-eyed frontal styling treat­ment with the pointed, up­swept LED head­lights and large trape­zoidal grille be­ing most in­flu­en­tial here.

A sil­ver skid plate – I didn’t test how tough it is in the in­ter­ests of not dam­ag­ing the test car and be­com­ing very un­pop­u­lar – rounds off the front façade.

Tra­di­tional, for SUVs, are the black roof rails and a colour-coded rear roof spoiler.

The 17-inch al­loy wheels have a for­ward slant­ing, “tur­bine” de­sign. At­trac­tive to most, but not, I must say, to all.

The front seat­ing is sump­tu­ous and nicely sup­port­ive which, to­gether with the sub­stan­tial roof and door pan­elling with fab­ric in­lays, give oc­cu­pants a cos­set­ted feel­ing.

The ver­sa­til­ity comes with the rear seats and their 60/40 tip-for­ward func­tion giv­ing the trunk – sorry, lug­gage com­part­ment – ad­di­tional ca­pac­ity to the huge 609 litres al­ready pro­vided.

With 77kW at 6,000r/min and 136 Nm of torque at 4,200r/min, the four-cylin­der, dou­ble over­head cam en­gine has a good amount of poke over a wide rev range, thanks to the vari­able valve tim­ing sys­tem adopted.

When cruis­ing, I noted the five-speed man­ual ver­sion’s revs were a fairly high 3,500 at a steady 120km/h. I would have pre­ferred it at some 3,000r/min in the in­ter­ests of im­proved fuel con­sump­tion when on the open road. Per­haps a tweak to the fi­nal drive would do the trick. How­ever, Toy­ota claims an av­er­age fuel con­sump­tion of 6.6 litre/100km for the man­ual and 6.7l/100km for the au­to­matic model.

With the front en­gine, rear wheel-drive lay­out of the Rush, it has the well tried and tested McPher­son struts up front and the now per­fected mul­ti­link sus­pen­sion in the rear.

Over­step the mark and do some­thing too stupid too fast, and you have ve­hi­cle sta­bil­ity con­trol and ABS, to help you sort it out.

The Rush has pas­sive safety sys­tems to pro­tect oc­cu­pants, com­pris­ing a to­tal of six airbags to de­ploy when in a col­li­sion, of­fer­ing driver, pas­sen­ger, side and cur­tain airbag cush­ion­ing.

The con­ve­nience fea­tures I re­ally ap­pre­ci­ated were the power ad­justable/re­tractable ex­te­rior side mir­rors, auto-off LED head­lights, the fog lights and the in­te­grated re­verse cam­era and park dis­tance con­trol. You won’t al­ways find these on ve­hi­cles in the Rush’s price range.

A three-spoke leather-clad steer­ing wheel sits ahead of an up­per dash, hous­ing a touch­screen au­dio sys­tem equipped with Blue­tooth, USB and An­droid Auto Plus Show/Ap­ple CarPlay func­tion­al­ity. The high-tech au­dio unit also of­fers a user-cus­tomis­able lay­out and “apps”.

The lower dash­board holds the dual-zone, elec­tronic cli­mate con­trol and a 12v ac­ces­sory con­nec­tor. There is an­other 12v power out­let for rear pas­sen­gers as well.

The Rush has satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion, but you can also use your own smart­phone apps such as Ap­ple Maps, Google Maps and Waze.

The Rush with man­ual trans­mis­sion costs R299,900 and the au­to­matic ver­sion has a price tag of R313,500.

You have a choice of five colours. Yes, you guessed right – tusk white, quick­sil­ver, ruby metal­lic, liq­uid bronze metal­lic and graphite black.

A six-ser­vice/90,000km ser­vice plan comes with the Rush, backed up by a three-year/100,000km war­ranty.

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