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Driving Impression: Toyota Land Cruiser D/C V8 diesel

5 March 2014

It’s a bit pointless for a city boy like myself to test the Land Cruiser double cab V8 diesel. Every inch of my everyday commute is covered with silky smooth tarmac and the only animal I ever have to transport is an excitable crossbreed called Clover. As you can see, I don’t exactly fit the profile of the average Land Cruiser customer.

This bakkie was built for farmers. It was built to be as robust as possible, so it could transport a sheep or two over rough tarmac free territory.

Even so, I would have one in my dream two-car garage. The other car, just in case you were wondering, is the new Golf GTI.

It might surprise you even more to learn that I’d use the Land Cruiser as my everyday car, and not the other way round.

There are multiple reasons for this, chief among which are the advantages it offers above a humdrum hatch or saloon.

Other road users have a lot more respect for the Land Cruiser than an average size car. Sick and tired of people pushing in front of you, or taxis cutting you off from the left. Buy one of these. I guarantee it’ll never happen again.

The height also has its advantages. With all the rain we’ve been having, I’ve been spending a lot of time stuck in traffic jams. In a normal car you’re forced to sit there wondering what’s wasting you’re time, but in the Land Cruiser you can see what’s coming. It doesn’t make the traffic move any faster, but at least you can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Then there’s that V8 engine the SA market has been longing for. It’s replaces the old straight-six diesel engine, which may disappoint some, but consider the advantages of the new V8. It produces 151kW and 430Nm of torque and is more frugal than the old version. That’s an increase of 55kW and 145Nm compared to the old six-cylinder.

Having said that, the new V8 prefers 50ppm diesel, which isn’t always readily available in all the places you’ll want to go in this car. A 130-litre fuel tank helps, but in case of emergencies, you can always acquire a jerry can or two.

The turbodiesel V8 is mated to a five-speed manual gearbox. It’s not the smoothest shifter around, but it’s far from atrocious. Luckily, the 430Nm torque output means downshifts are rarely necessary on the highway.

The interior is spacious and has all the necessary modern features you’d expect in a car costing almost R570 000. It has air-conditioning, electric windows, satellite navigation and a sound system with Bluetooth and USB connectivity.

The massive turning circle is just about the only thing I really dislike about this car, but once again, it was never meant to be an inner-city commuter. Apart from this problem, I’m actually surprised at how well it coped as a daily drive.

At this point you’re probably wondering what it’s like off-road, and the honest answer is I just don’t know. But don’t worry, we’ll answer that question soon enough.

Our recording equipment is charged and the off-road venue has been booked. Check in again next week to find out how it did.