One For­tuner, 3 gen­er­a­tions

Toy­ota re­cently lent ‘Wheels’ a 3,0 D4-D model, which gave three car-nuts, aged from 20-some­thing to 70-some­thing, a chance to find what they liked — and didn’t — about South Africa’s most popular ute.

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING -

DRIV­ING the For­tuner made me feel like I owned the road, sit­ting high above just about ev­ery­thing else.

It was the per­fect com­bi­na­tion be­tween the hard­core off-road rigid­ity of a Landy and the el­e­gant so­phis­ti­cated in­te­rior of a Mercedes.

But tak­ing the For­tuner’s wheel in the dark for the first time, I had no idea where to dis­en­gage the cen­tral diff lock. The but­tons where th­ese con­trols are nor­mally po­si­tioned are not back­lit and of course Toy­ota fur­ther con­fused this newbie driver by re­quir­ing the 4x4 short lever to be pulled into the tra­di­tional en­gage po­si­tion in or­der to dis­en­gage the cen­tral diff lock.

And while prob­ing around un­der­neath the dash­board, look­ing for that elu­sive but­ton in the dark, you also find the For­tuner’s roof lights are def­i­nitely more for ro­man­tic mood light­ing than il­lu­mi­na­tion.

Luck­ily there are apps that turn smartphones into torches!

Al­wyn Viljoen - the 40-some-thing bloke

AS a mem­ber of the neigh­bour­hood watch I note at night how Mahin­dras are parked out­side while the For­tuner flock hud­dle be­hind locked gates.

For that is the sad re­al­ity of own­ing SA’s most popular ute — you also own a ve­hi­cle that is on top of car thieves’ shop­ping list. And then there is the huge key to start the For­tuner with. You can­not stuff it into your pocket for fear of it pok­ing a hole in the lining. At half a bar for the For­tuner, I’d want a fold-in key fob like those the com­peti­tors use. But over 700 peo­ple who buy a For­tuner each month can­not all be wrong, as a quick drive along a se­lec­tion of gravel and tar con­vinced me.

Where other firmly-sprung 4x4s jud­der over the ce­ment sec­tion of the N3 high­way near Cato Ridge, the For­tuner just sits, ditto around gravel cor­ners. Just don’t tap off!

Toy­ota’s Blue­tooth sys­tem is an­other big plus, as it pairs with any smart­phone in less than five key presses.

Brian Bas­sett - the ven­er­a­ble madala

A DRIVER of Ger­man cars for many years, sweep­ing cor­ners are my forte, not 4x4ing.

Which is why my col­leagues waited with baited breath as I pre­pared to sur­mount our usual steep, rock-strewn slope.

The last time I had tried to get up there in a com­pet­ing ute, I re­turned with a flat tyre. But with the For­tuner’s cen­tral and front diff lock en­gaged, this ter­ri­fied 4x4 novice was king of the hill in no time.

If I have to nit­pick — and the edi­tor said I do — the For­tuner’s sheer size makes it dif­fi­cult to park. I won­der how the thou­sands of pe­tite women who use this ute as a mom’s taxi cope with this is­sue on a daily ba­sis.

From a de­sign per­spec­tive, the air in­take on the bon­net also spoils the lines for me.

I think Toy­ota could have en­abled the en­gine to breath in more at­trac­tive ways, as its 86 sportscar shows.

PHOTO: YOUTUBE SCREEN GRAB

The For­tuner is not just a best­seller in SA, but tried, tested and trusted as a mom’s taxi around the globe.

Amil Umraw - the 20-some-thing bloke

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