Hilux still SA’s top bakkie?

There is a long wait­ing list for the new Hilux in the Mid­lands. AL­WYN VILJOEN finds out why.

The Witness - Wheels - - FRONT PAGE -

SOUTH Africa has two kinds of bakkie buy­ers — those in over a mil­lion Hilux bakkies, and a few thou­sand in other makes.

The lat­ter group are keenly await­ing the lat­est car- like com­forts in the likes of the new Nis­san Navara, Mit­subishi Tri­ton and even the new Fiat Full­back ( made with Mit­subishi), while the fans of the Ranger, Isuzu, Amarok, Bolero and Steed re­main true to their brands.

The Hilux dis­ci­ples, how­ever, couldn’t care less. All they want to know is when can they wrap their fin­gers lov­ingly around the multi- func­tion steer­ing wheel of the all- new Hilux, 23 mod­els of which were launched to the me­dia at the Kyalami race track on Tues­day.

Never mind that the top- spec Ranger’s 3,2 litre diesel en­gine of­fers quite a lot more power than the new Hilux; or that both the Isuzu and Navara bakkies of­fer rides that will smooth out even rough dirt roads, even with­out a load in the bin; or that the Amarok still has the best- look­ing pro­file for some be­hold­ers; or how much less the Bolero and Steed cost.

Hilux rid­ers will tell you that Toy­ota has now matched all th­ese strong points of the com­pet­ing bakkies and made the Hilux’s own strong points even bet­ter. This in­cludes pric­ing, said new car sales man­ager at McCarthy Pi­eter­mar­itzburg, Deon Olivier, who told Wheels that three mod­els are now cheaper than their out­go­ing mod­els, with the 2,8 4x4 Raider with six speed au­to­box cost­ing R3 300 less.

Hav­ing driven his new Hilux for al­most a week, Olivier can con­firm the leg­endary bakkie is more lux­u­ri­ous in­side and has as pli­ant a ride as the com­peti­tors, while the launch prices will es­cape the next round of price in­creases.

The bad news, said Olivier, is that there is al­ready a wait­ing list of over 30 peo­ple for the new Hilux. He ex­pects de­mand to ex­ceed sup­ply from the plant in Prospec­ton for a long time yet.

Un­der the hood

Toy­ota has re­placed the 3,0- litre diesel unit with a more ef­fi­cient 2,8- litre diesel and the 4,0- litre V6 4x4 and 2,8 diesel 4x4 mod­els are paired to a new six- speed au­to­matic. The man­ual trans­mis­sions on all the 2,8 en­gines also have “in­tel­li­gent man­ual trans­mis­sion” ( i- MT) as stan­dard. This matches en­gine rev­o­lu­tions to the right gear for re­ally smooth shift­ing.

Toy­ota is very proud of the fan­tas­tic in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem, which is an­chored by a huge touch- screen, how it will man­age the old tyres in ac­cor­dance with the Waste Man­age­ment Act of 2008, the trailer sway con­trol which buy­ers de­manded and got and hill de­scent con­trol. I got to test this con­trol down a 43- de­gree steel ramp that had me butt- munch­ing the seat. Wheels read­ers can ex­pe­ri­ence the same thrill at the up­com­ing Royal Show.

I can fur­ther re­port that in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem paired with any smart­phone in three clicks — only the Blue­tooth sys­tem in the lat­est VW Caddy is as quick — while those LED head lights do look hand­some framed in a rear- view mir­ror. Own­ers also stand to get a nice fuzzy feel­ing from know­ing that the in­te­rior of the Hilux is clad with plas­tics that are highly re­cy­clable.

Even nicer is the five year or 90 000 km war­ranty and ser­vice plan that can be ex­tended to six years and 220 000 km, backed by a longer ser­vice plan of seven years or 200 000 km. This is highly rec­om­mended for fleet buy­ers who want to “pay to­day’s rates for to­mor­row’s main­te­nance”, as Toy­ota puts it. McCarthy Toy­ota in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg will be host­ing some of those fleet buy­ers tonight, who will be ask­ing a lot of ques­tions on th­ese ex­tended warranties and bulk- buy dis­counts on es­pe­cially the Hilux SR sin­gle cab work­horse.

The glass just got fuller

All the above are just part of the lit­tle um­brella on top of the pri­vate Hilux owner’s glass, which was al­ready brim­ming with a big mix of low- revving torque and more deal­ers than you can com­fort­ably pin on Google maps. Hilux en­gi­neers’ se­cret sauce has al­ways been their abil­ity to match all the avail­able torque at low revs with ideal gear ra­tios in or­der to idle a loaded Hilux up steep hills, in­clud­ing in the thin air of the High­veld.

The new mod­els con­tinue this tra­di­tion. Even the en­try level 2- litre petrol makes its 183 New­tons at 4 000 rpm, while the pop­u­lar, mid- range 2,4 turbo diesel wrings the drive shafts at a steady 343 New­tons be­tween 1 400 and 2 800 rpm.

Be­ing able to move loads at low revs leads to burn­ing less fuel, but Toy­ota thinks any of the 23 new mod­els can beat the fuel con­sump­tion of sim­i­lar com­pet­ing bakkies out there, with the best of the bunch be­ing 10,6l/ 100 km from the 2,7 petrol en­gine on a com­bined cy­cle, thanks to clever vari­able valve tim­ing.

There are two other petrol en­gines, the en­try two- litre and the top- of- the range six- cylin­der that dis­placed four litres, as well as two diesels, a 2,4- litre mapped to make ei­ther 343 NM or 400 Nm, and a 2,8- litre mak­ing ei­ther 420 Nm or 450 Nm.

Steve’s Auto Clinic is just one of sev­eral tun­ing com­pa­nies that are al­ready braced to up th­ese num­bers sig­nif­i­cantly just with a remap, which will de­liver half again as much torque while still us­ing Euro two fuel lev­els. Be­ing pegged at a low Euro level sim­ply means the new Hilux can burn 500 ppm fuel any­where from Cape Town to Cairo. And, of course, it does not mat­ter whether you do the Cape to Cairo trip by go­ing left via Oshakati or right via the Tete prov­ince in Mozam­bique, there will be Toy­ota dealer nearby.

This wide dealer net­work is the rea­son why Hilux buy­ers stay so loyal. With close to 200 deal­ers spread across south­ern Africa, no other brand even comes close to pro­vid­ing ad­ven­tur­ous driv­ers with as much re­as­sur­ance that help is close at hand, should they run out of tal­ent some­where.

Which is why Toy­ota says it is not wor­ried about com­pe­ti­tion from the Ranger, Bolero, Navara, Fiat et all. De­spite the wait­ing lists, deal­ers are al­ready gear­ing up to sell well over 2 000 Hiluxes a month na­tion­wide, as all the loy­al­ists pre­pare to upgrade to what looks to be the best ad­di­tion to this leg­end ary bakkie yet.

• Next week in Wheels: we speak to the chief en­gi­neer be­hind the Hilux.

PHOTO: AL­WYN VILJOEN

The first three new Hilux bakkies in the Mid­lands get a thor­ough pre- de­liv­ery check by worskhop man­ager Leon Olivier ( left) and PDI tech­ni­cian Amir­c­hand Ra­gu­nanan at McCarthy PMB.

PHOTO: AL­WYN VILJOEN

Read­ers can ex­pe­ri­ence the new hill de­scent con­trol of the new Hilux at the up­com­ing Royal Show.

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