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Off-road test: RGM Toyota Hilux 4.0 V6

25 July 2016

Racing bakkie for the road – Are you a bakkie drag-racing enthusiast with a flawless victory record? Best stay away from this Hilux, then. We took the 327kW RGMotorsport Toyota Hilux V6 for a spin…

As soon as the new Hilux arrived in South Africa, a strange new phenomenon emerged in fields across our beautiful country: amateur drag racing between different bakkies. It has since evolved into a popular social media subject too. And the bakkie on these pages is the perfect weapon for such a fight…

The ultimate sleeper
It’s a Toyota Hilux, which means it looks just like a Toyota Hilux. A sleeper car, in case you don’t know, doesn’t look like much, but has enough power to embarrass spiky-haired, yellow Oakley wearing youths in their low-riding hot hatches.According to RGM, the Randburg-based creators of the beast, the supercharged model runs from standstill to 100km/h in 7.1 seconds and reaches a top speed of 227km/h. The latter doesn’t seem that fast, but trust us when we say it feels like low flying in a bakkie.

Faster equals safer
Bet you’ve never heard that argument before, but RGM makes a compelling case for the supercharged Hilux. While that 0-100km/h time is impressive, it’s the in-gear acceleration that matters most. With a six-speed automatic gearbox mated to the supercharged engine, this Hilux will get from 80-160km/h in 12.2 seconds. It’ll go from 60-120km/h in six seconds, almost four seconds quicker than a standard model.  Just imagine what a difference this will make when towing a caravan or when you try and overtake a slow-moving truck.

How much power are we talking?
Almost double, but there’s no reason to worry about reliability, according to RGM. It has been supercharging V6 Toyotas for years now and rumour has it there’s one unit with over half  a million kilometres on the clock.

One need only open the bonnet for peace of mind. The engine cover is gone and in its place you’ll find a thing of beauty. It’s one of those engines you’ll want to stare at for a good few minutes before you drive it for the first time.  With the supercharger in place, the engine produces 152 additional kilowatts, while the torque has been boosted by 169Nm. That brings the total engine output to 327kW and 545Nm. All that extra power needs plenty of auxiliary systems to work too… like cooling the air the engine breathes.

RGMotorsport sorted this problem with a stand-alone radiator system, which provides coolant for the charge cooler. This decreased the temperature of the compressed air drastically, which means the compression ratio of the engine stays the same. The result is power and reliability. In addition to the mechanical work on the engine, each supercharged Hilux is run on RGM’s dynamometer to perfectly map the UniChip ECU for that particular engine. For added peace of mind, a six-month/20 000km warranty is included in the price of the conversion.

Can the beast be tamed?
Considering the fact that it’s as powerful as a brand-new BMW M3, the answer is, very much, yes. This particular unit happened to be a 4×2 with an automatic transmission, and it had zero trouble leaving a set of black marks on the road. Only the most courageous would dare toy with the traction control.

It’s no harder to drive than a stock Hilux. If anything, it’s fairly undramatic at half-throttle. But then you press a little harder and the magic happens. A thunderous roar emanates from the rear and the iconic supercharger whine assaults your ears from the front. The resulting turn of speed doesn’t feel ridiculous, but rather progressive. It doesn’t accelerate with the ferocity of a 330kW hot hatch, but the surge is relentless.

It’s actually quite comical to watch a Hilux speedometer needle rotate that fast, not to mention the deeply satisfying sensation that comes when you drive it off the clock. A Hilux’s speedo only goes up to 200km/h. The RGMotorsport Hilux can go way beyond that.

Toyota never designed the Hilux with that in mind, so it’s definitely worth investing in the two optional extras fitted to our test unit – a Fox suspension and an in-house RG-Motorsport brake upgrade. With the Fox suspension fitted, the Hilux feels stable at all speeds and those brakes do a stupendous job of slowing the beast down again.

The gearbox is stock standard, but is more than up to the task of coping with the extra power. As it’s a new Hilux, you also get a ‘Sport’ mode for the gearbox and that contentious ‘Power’ button. In Sport mode, the gearbox holds on to a gear for as long as possible, which makes for even better acceleration. Once you press the power button, you’d better hold on for dear life. Great for overtaking, but toggle that switch too much, and you’d be on a first-name basis with your local tyre dealer within six months.

Worth the money?
The conversion options start at R109 000, while this particular unit features an Option 3 upgrade, which includes the supercharger kit, stainless steel performance exhaust, Unichip tuning module, RGM Torco dual map and ceramic-coated exhaust manifolds. This package costs R123 700, excluding the Fox suspension and brake upgrade.

The total cost of buying a double-cab V6 4×2 plus a conversion like this is around R630 000, which is a lot of cash to spend on a ‘Lux, but you do get a lot in return. The craftsmanship is impeccable and those extra horses make a massive difference. And can one really put a price tag on wiping the smug smile off the face of a teenager in a hot hatch?

Standard Hilux 4.0 V6 vs RGM Hilux 4.0 V6

Power (kW) 175 vs 327
Torque (Nm) 376 vs 545
Top Speed (km/h)  186.5 vs 226.9

Acceleration (tested at 1 500m above sea level)
0-100 (km/h) 10.73 vs 7.14
0-120 (km/h) 14.4 vs 9.48

In-gear acceleration
60-120 (km/h)
9.62 vs 5.94
80-120 (km/h)
7.1 vs 4.28
60-160 (km/h) 22.3 vs 12.23

Text Gerhard Horn
Photos Deon van der Walt