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