Hilux still SA’s top bakkie?
There is a long waiting list for the new Hilux in the Midlands. ALWYN VILJOEN finds out why.
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.
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.
Readers can experience the new hill descent control of the new Hilux at the upcoming Royal Show.