WHEELS

The new “bud­get” 4x4 ver­sion of the ev­er­pop­u­lar Toy­ota For­tuner might run out of steam slightly sooner than its more pow­er­ful sib­ling, but it has a huge heart – and that makes it a clever buy.

go! - - Contents - BY BRAAM PEENS

Toy­ota has filled a gap in their lineup by of­fer­ing the 2,4-litre For­tuner as a 4x4. We took it for a spin.

The Pan South African Lan­guage Board, part of the Depart­ment of Arts and Cul­ture, has cho­sen “land ex­pro­pri­a­tion without com­pen­sa­tion” as its word, or phrase, of 2018. There’s no doubt land is an emo­tional is­sue, but I think “re­ces­sion” would have been a bet­ter op­tion. We all feel it tug­ging at our wal­lets, es­pe­cially if you’re a tyre­kicker who now has to set his or her sights on more af­ford­able op­tions. You fan­cied a BMW, but now you’ll look at a Volk­swa­gen… Or a 2,4-litre For­tuner in­stead of the 2,8-litre model. There was a hole in the For­tuner line-up for a lower-spec 4x4 model and Toy­ota has clev­erly plugged it by of­fer­ing their 2,4-litre model in four-wheel-drive. It’s a de­lib­er­ate move, as con­sid­ered as Cyril Ramaphosa ap­point­ing Tito Mboweni as Min­is­ter of Fi­nance. The 2,4-litre 4x4 costs R113 000 less than its big­ger-en­gine brother, and you only lose 20 kW of power and 50 Nm of torque. You can’t ad­just the seats elec­tron­i­cally and there’s no built-in satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion, but in the age of smart­phones and off­line maps, this is no great loss. What is tougher to swal­low is the ab­sence of a leather-cov­ered steer­ing wheel in a ve­hi­cle that costs more than R500 K. Herds of cat­tle have been sac­ri­ficed to make cheaper cars more com­fort­able. On the high­way, the en­gine is qui­eter than the si­lence that pre­cedes a bank­ing cri­sis. Ev­ery now and then, how­ever, a long hill will prove to be a chal­lenge and the au­to­matic trans­mis­sion will search for a lower gear. An­other ir­ri­ta­tion is how dif­fi­cult it is to read the blueon-black dis­play in di­rect sun­light. These are small things, though. All in all, this stingy, sen­si­ble For­tuner won’t move your soul like the 2,8-litre model flag­ship, but it’s the one that will bal­ance the books. And that means a good night’s sleep. Sweet dreams.

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