NEW WHEELS

Un­til re­cently, SUVs were niche prod­ucts pop­u­lar with “cer­tain types” of peo­ple. These days, how­ever, they’ve be­come the norm, and the Toy­ota Rush is the lat­est of this new nor­mal.

Go! Camp & Drive - - Contents - Text Cyril Klop­per

The Toy­ota For­tuner is a phe­nom­e­non. It’s nei­ther a rich man’s nor a poor man’s ve­hi­cle; you feel at home in it re­gard­less of the state of your bank bal­ance. It gets used as both a city-driv­ing car that hardly ever sees dirt, and as a hol­i­day ve­hi­cle with hun­dreds of thou­sands of kilo­me­tres on the clock. Yes, there’s a For­tuner for ev­ery­one. But it’s be­come too ex­pen­sive for young peo­ple and pen­sion­ers who need to stretch their rands. And there’s an in­creas­ing num­ber of peo­ple who re­alise that they will prob­a­bly never use a For­tuner’s off-road abil­i­ties, or all seven seats. For them there’s a sim­pler, baby For­tuner: the Toy­ota Rush.

What do we have here?

The Rush is ba­si­cally a Dai­hatsu Te­rios (which isn’t sold in South Africa any­more) with Toy­ota badges. ( The Dai­hatsu Te­rios is ac­tu­ally based on the Toy­ota Avanza, which is sold lo­cally.) De­spite the cross­breed­ing, the Rush won’t re­place the Avanza in South Africa, and you’ll find both mod­els in a Toy­ota deal­er­ship. The big dif­fer­ence be­tween the Rush and the Avanza is that the Rush has a larger lug­gage space (609 ℓ ver­sus the Avanza’s 128 ℓ). Toy­ota de­cided to re­move the sixth and sev­enth seats to cre­ate a sig­nif­i­cantly big­ger boot. There are still rem­nants of the Avanza’s third bench, such as the rear arm­rests and cup hold­ers that now serve no one. The boot also doesn’t have a cover you can pull over, to hide your prop­erty from pry­ing eyes and itchy fin­gers. Inside, the Rush is quite snazzy. There’s a big touch­screen in the cen­tre con­sole, with a me­dia cen­tre with ra­dio, CD and MP3 player, satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion, and a func­tion that will mir­ror pop­u­lar apps

from your Ap­ple or An­droid smart­phone; there’s also a re­verse cam­era. The ma­te­ri­als used can’t be de­scribed as lux­u­ri­ous, but they’re easy to clean. The dash­board is Kala­hari dust-proof, and you can wipe the fab­ric seats with a wet cloth af­ter your lit­tle one spills her ice cream.

The ride

The man­ual trans­mis­sion’s first gear is rather short – it’s nice and strong, if you’re tow­ing a heavy trailer up a hill, but it also means you have to switch to sec­ond al­most im­me­di­ately once you get go­ing. The 1.5 ℓ petrol en­gine de­liv­ers only 77 kW, but the per­for­mance feels good thanks to the short gear shifts. At 120 km/h (4 000 rpm) it does sound like the Rush is los­ing steam, when you hear how the en­gine labours to main­tain speed. But there’s still some oomph left, and a top speed of 165 km/h is the­o­ret­i­cally pos­si­ble. A sixth gear would have been great, even just to put a stop to the en­gine’s whin­ing at 4 000 rpm. The Rush re­lies on rear-wheel drive, which is def­i­nitely not ideal for dirt roads and wet con­di­tions, but it’s sim­ple and de­pend­able. And that’s ex­actly what you’re look­ing for in this type of ve­hi­cle.

Con­clu­sion

The Rush will no doubt sell like hot­cakes. Is Toy­ota can­ni­bal­is­ing buy­ers from its own RAV4 mar­ket? We don’t think so; it’s prob­a­bly more likely that Corolla sales will suf­fer. Be­cause who wants to be lim­ited by an or­di­nary sedan, if you can own an SUV for the same price?

NO-THRILLS SAT­IS­FAC­TION. The in­te­rior is at once ba­sic and smart. Yes, the stitch­ing on the faux-leather dash­board is fake, and the ‘metal’ is merely sil­ver-painted plas­tic, but it doesn’t come across as de­ceit­ful. It ac­tu­ally seems ap­pro­pri­ate and sen­si­ble to use hard-wear­ing, low-main­te­nance ma­te­ri­als that are easy to keep clean.

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