Car (South Africa)
Better than ever
TOYOTA HILUX GR-S 2,8 GD-6 4X4 6AT
The Raptor isn’t easily usurped; although the GR badge-wearing Hilux strikes a good balance without asking for as much money Ryan de Villiers
Raptor still impresses but GR-S badged Hilux has closed the gap in terms of desirability Kyle Kock
Price: R891 400 0–100 km/h: 9,87 seconds Top speed: 175 km/h Power: 165 kw Torque: 550 N.m CAR Fuel index: 9,6 L/100 km CO2: 210 g/km
The Hilux has been a staple in South Africa for some time, from utilitarian workhorses to luxurious double cabs, as well as commemorative models and everything in between. There has been a Hilux on the scene for as far back as we can remember and it’s still as loved. The difference for the Hilux, especially doublecab variants, is that it finds itself in a segment where features, performance, looks and overall capability matter now more than ever before. Of course, the price has to be right as well.
Thanks to the efforts of its inhouse Gazoo Racing motorsport outfit, Toyota is scoring on the desirability front. The GR badges on models such as the Yaris, Corolla, Corolla Cross, 86 and Supra denote a special treatment, much like the M for BMWS or N at Hyundai, which conjures up some excitement. Gazoo Racing’s credentials are not to be taken lightly. Sure, the Hilux GR-S gets its share of GR badges but it is all very subtle. Apart from the badge on the front door and the roll hoop, at a glance, you’d be hard pressed to determine that this was a spicier Hilux if it stood next to you at the traffic lights.
From behind, the badges on the top of the roll hoop and the tailgate give the game away. Up front, there’s just one badge next to the Toyota logo. No fancy decals or crazy colours … it’s all been tastefully done. Because its wheelarch trim stands slightly proud of the body, the Hilux GR-S appears a little under-tyred when right next to the Raptor.
The big news for the Hilux GR-S is that its 2,8-litre GD-6 turbodiesel now produces higher outputs thanks to revisions to the ECU’S mapping. There’s a 15 kw power increase and 50 N.m more torque, bringing totals to 165 kw and 550 N.m. These figures are sent to the road via the same sixspeed automatic, which features in the rest of the line-up, but the transmission’s brain has been rejigged for better torque delivery. We clocked a 0–100 km/h sprint of 9,87 seconds. It’s the first Hilux double cab we’ve tested to break the 10-second barrier. All this while managing 8,5 L/100 km on our mixed-use fuel run.
To narrow the gap to the Raptor, Toyota fitted the Hilux GR-S with new monotube shocks and stiffer coil springs up front. The ride has improved all round, but we found the Hilux bounced about disconcertingly under hard braking during our test session, and we cut the test short from 10 stops to just five.
The GR-S also runs down the Raptor with the finishes in its cabin: aluminium shifters, Alcantara strips on the front seats, GR badges, and contrasting red trim and stitching. The only let-down is the carbon-fibre-effect trim on the dash, but you’ll have to look closely to notice. A punchy sound system makes up for the carbon-fibre faux pas.
Another pleasant aspect of driving, as noticed by our testers, are the features of Toyota’s Safety Sense suite. This kit includes adaptive cruise control – which you can set via satellite controls on the steering wheel (you can even fix your preferred following distance from three presets) – and its lane-departure alert and pre-collision system informs the driver of driving transgressions without being too intrusive.
Choosing a winner between these two has been one of the most difficult assessments we’ve made recently, as both products are impressive offerings.
In many aspects, the GR-S has the edge over the Raptor. That revised 2,8-litre turbodiesel serves up more power and torque, giving a slight advantage in terms of straight-line grunt, and it does so while returning comparable fuel consumption figures.
Some will also appreciate Toyota’s measured approach to lending the Hilux sporting cred, especially given that those wellconsidered touches are attached to a vehicle renowned for its nearbombproof mechanicals.
Then we come to the price difference. Typically, a roughly R100 000 gap between rivals is a nail in the coffin for the pricier car. This does stand in the GR-S’ favour from a value point of view, but it also reveals a telling aspect of the Raptor’s makeup that could assuage the pain of the additional financial outlay. While all of the powertrain-, cosmetic- and suspension-related upgrades to the GR-S are welcome and well applied, they don’t equate to a enormously different driving
experience. Conversely, the modifications and additions to the Raptor’s underpinnings – the radical suspension- and chassis upgrades to the engine and drivetrain management system among them – lend it a distinct character. It’s surprisingly comfortable on-road and capable of traversing rough terrain at considerable speed. To equip the Hilux in such a way that it could emulate the Raptor’s round-town cruiser/baja racer driving traits, you would be looking at myriad aftermarket extras (such as specialised wheels/tyre combination, uprated suspension kit, recovery points, underbody protection and attendant chassis modifications) and it would soon eat away at the price difference.
The GR-S provides the Hilux with a shot in the arm and is a great pick for a broad range of conditions. Going through our criteria, in most driving scenarios, the Raptor felt composed and agile; these things will carry some weight if you are looking for the sportiest double-cab experience.
But make no mistake, the champ had to fight for its life and staggered away from this exchange bloodied by the GR-S’ impressive value proposition and power. While it manages to run the Raptor closer than any other model before it, it’s just not enough to take over as king of performance pick-ups.