Our pen­sioner driver has a mo­ment up The Slope, but the new Hilux got him through with no fur­ther fuss.

BRIAN BAS­SETT spends time in the new Toy­ota Hilux 4x2 Dou­ble Cab 2,4 l GD- 6 RB SRX.

The Witness - Wheels - - FRONT PAGE -

TOY­OTA launched the Hilux brand in South Africa in 1969 and it has been not only the best sell­ing bakkie in South Africa for the past 45years plus, but also the country’s best sell­ing ve­hi­cle, with over a mil­lion Hiluxes hav­ing been sold in SA to date.

The Hilux is part of South African life. There are places in South Africa where it is sac­ri­lege to speak ill of this iconic ve­hi­cle and South Africans, from fam­i­lies to farm­ers, swear by its re­li­a­bil­ity, tough­ness and dura­bil­ity. The re­cent launch of a new Hilux is there­fore a ma­jor na­tional event and we are grate­ful to Deon Olivier, new ve­hi­cle sales man­ager at McCarthy Toy­ota in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg, for al­low­ing us a few days with the new bakkie.

Styling

The Hilux has al­ways been a work­ing ve­hi­cle with not much em­pha­sis on life­style. In the 12 years since the last sixth- gen­er­a­tion Hilux was launched, many brands of­fer en­hanced lev­els of com­fort, re­fine­ment and de­sign, over and above the lev­els of tough­ness as­so­ci­ated with the bakkie breed.

The Hilux there­fore en­ters a com­pet­i­tive new mar­ket en­vi­ron­ment.

Hilux de­sign­ers re­alised that curved lines would not de­tract from the bakkie’s rugged feel and the re­sult is a much softer de­sign at the front. The prom­i­nent front grille boasts a good deal of chrome and is flanked by wrap­around head­lights and trade­mark bumper air in­takes, which are them­selves flanked by fog lamps.

This makes for an in­te­grated, pow­er­ful and rugged look. The rear end is all Hilux.

In­te­rior

The 2,4 l Hilux GD- 6 RB SRX that we drove was es­sen­tially the en­try level dou­ble- cab model. It was how­ever ob­vi­ous that Toy­ota had taken a great deal of trou­ble to cre­ate a mod­ern, com­fort­able and spa­cious en­vi­ron­ment. The seats were cov­ered in rugged and durable black- pat­terned up­hol­stery, while be­ing very com­fort­able. In the 12 hours I spent in ve­hi­cle over a two- day pe­riod I had no phys­i­cal dis­com­fort at all. Part of this is due to the re­designed and up­graded driver’s seat.

The rear seat, which folds down in 60: 40 fash­ion, pro­vides use­ful rear cab stor­age and, when folded open the seats will house three adults with­out trou­ble and am­ple legroom.

The dash is sim­ple and ro­bust with cen­trally- placed 4,2 inch multi- in­for- ma­tion touch screen and you do not have to lose sight of the road while us­ing it. Driver in­stru­men­ta­tion is housed in two ana­logue di­als with a dig­i­tal in­for­ma­tion panel in be­tween.

The tac­tile, multi- func­tion steer­ing wheel op­er­ates the ra­dio and speed con­trol func­tions, with econ­omy and power but­tons within easy. As to be ex­pected there are stor­age spa­ces every­where and the plas­tics are ro­bust and of the best qual­ity.

Safety and se­cu­rity

The Hilux has the usual ABS with EBD, Emer­gency Brake Sig­nal and Hill Hold and Hill De­scent as­sists, as well as Ac­tive Trac­tion Con­trol and a Limited Slip Diff, make this bakkie safe both on and off road. There are seat­belts for all and three airbags in the model we drove. This, how­ever rises to as many as seven airbags in the more ex­pen­sive 4x4 ver­sions. There are also ISOFIX at­tach­ment points and a three- point cen­tre rear seat­belt. Cen­tral lock­ing comes as stan­dard, as well as an alarm.

Per­for­mance and han­dling

The Hilux Dou­ble Cab 2,4 l GD- 6 RB SRX has a four- cylin­der, in- line, Turbo- Diesel en­gine putting out 110 kW/ 400 Nm, ex­pressed on road via a six- speed gear­box. 0- 100 km/ h comes up in around 13 sec­onds and top speed is around 175 km/ h.

Fuel con­sump­tion is quoted at 8,5 litres per 100 km, although of­froad driv­ing will push this up.

Tow­ing ca­pac­ity is a re­mark­able 3,5 tons.

In town the Hilux is very ma­noeu­vrable for a bakkie. So get­ting to work and col­lect­ing the kids will be no prob­lem. In the Kark­loof forests I was sur­prised at how the 4x2 sys­tem coped with the in­hos­pitable driv­ing en­vi­ron­ment on rut­ted and root­strewn tracks.

I also de­cided to take the ve­hi­cle to Hil­ton via our now fa­mous back route. This starts with the as­cent of The Slopes, 30- de­grees of deeply rut­ted in­cline that is ei­ther muddy or sandy. I en­gaged the diff- lock and pushed the power but­ton and up we went. At the half­way mark, just as I was be­gin­ning to con­grat­u­late my­self, I put the right front wheel into a bad rut, sump plate rest­ing on the sand, wheel flush against a 90- de­gree ob­sta­cle as high as the rim. No prob­lem. I sim­ply toed the ac­cel­er­a­tor and the Hilux crawled its way out and up the rest of the slope.

To put this in per­spec­tive, Wheels ed­i­tor Al­wyn Viljoen fol­lowed in the GLE AMG, a soft­roader that costs R1,2 mil­lion in its socks, but had to stop half­way up The Slope. Ev­ery alarm in the Merc was bleep­ing in panic, and even in its high “off road” set­ting, the Merc’s un­der­car­riage would not have made it over the ruts with­out ex­pen­sive dam­age.

Costs and the com­pe­ti­tion

The bakkie I drove will cost you around R415 000. The 4x4 comes in at R440 000, which is good value if you think you need it.

The ve­hi­cle comes with a five- year or 90 000 km ser­vice plan and the usual Toy­ota fac­tory guar­an­tee. The list of bakkie con­tenders is long, but only the Ford Ranger, Mazda BT- 50 and Volk­swa­gen Amarok make more torque, which is, af­ter all, the rai­son d’être of bakkies.

PHOTO: AL­WYN VILJOEN

Ex­pe­ri­ence how the new Hilux turn even 45- de­gree an­gles into level ground dur­ing the Royal Agri­cul­tural Show in May.

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