A ‘tougherer’ nut to crack
Toyota’s clever ‘tougherer’ marketing campaign for the new Hilux strikes a lot of family chords – and it’s right up the Hilux’s market positioning alley. But is the bakkie really worth the long wait?
Let’s get this out of the way first: Toyota sold 1 000 double cabs in the first week after the launch. So yes, it is as popular as ever and we have no doubt it will remain king of the bakkies in South Africa.
For the past month or three, the new Hilux has been present on every single social media profile out there. And we soon noticed an amusing trend forming around the new model, which we declared as the best all-rounder bakkie in our previous issue.
The Ranger clan started defending their bakkies almost immediately, stating that their bakkies were fastest. The Isuzu KB fraternity stated that their bakkie was even toughererer than the new Hilux, while the VW Amarok owners kept an almost eerie silence. According to the Mitsubishi folk, that’s because the ‘Amakroks’ all blew their turbos on the way down to work…
But never mind all of that. It’s nothing more than playful banter and will always be part of vehicle ownership, especially in a highly contested segment like this one. We’d rather ask a few questions that matter to people contemplating Hilux ownership.
Is the new Hilux ugly?
This seems to be a rather contentious issue with the bakkie crowd. And in short the answer is no. And yes. It’s not ugly, but it’s not beautiful either. It’s just, well… okay.
Some punters commented that it looked like a whale that had crash-landed on a beach, with its chin pushed backwards. Others likened it to the internet sensation Tuna, reputed to be the ugliest dog on the planet. And yet other punters thought it to be the greatest looking automotive creation on the planet. So we’ll leave it up to you to decide whether the new Hilux is Cinderella or one of the ugly stepsisters. We can definitely conclude, though, that it is rather big and it radiates toughness, which is exactly what a Hilux should do.
Is it fasterer?
The new turbocharged diesel flagship comes with a 2.8-litre engine that offers 130kW and 420Nm from as low as 1 600r/min. Although the power has not increased markedly compared to the legendary 3.0D4-D engine, torque has: the new engine has 77 more Newtons at hand, and there is virtually no perceptible turbo lag. So yes, the new Hilux is indeed ‘fasterer’ than the 3.0D-4D.
There is also a big improvement in overall refinement. But the most important advancement is the reduction in fuel consumption. The previous-generation bakkie usually hovered around the 10.5l/100km mark, which was okay for a vehicle of that size. Not great, but not bad either. The new model averages around 9.0 litres/100km, which is right up there with the king of efficient double cabs, the VW Amarok. We were sceptical when Toyota first started talking about drive modes, but the technology works. The driver can choose between Eco and Power modes and we obviously went for the power from the get-go.
It just so happened to be on the day Johannesburg and Pretoria received 110mm of rain, which meant the Hilux’s rear wheels battled with traction, and the traction control system had to put in plenty of overtime to keep the bakkie going in a straight line. So we switched to Eco mode, expecting the accelerator pedal to be less responsive than week-old roadkill.
We were pleasantly surprised, though, because it actually works. Instead of simply stifling the throttle, it feeds the power in progressively. This makes it much easier to pull away in the wet, or on rutted surfaces. The Power mode does exactly what you’d expect. It sharpens the throttle, which means that wallop of torque is more readily available to light up the rear wheels.
The i-MT (intelligent manual transmission) also impressed. It’s available on certain Hilux models and is basically a rev-matching system for both up- and downshifts. We were pondering the usefulness of this system, right up until the moment we drove the ‘Lux on a muddy gravel road. In slippery conditions, milli-seconds matter and any system that allows for immediate access to the power is okay in our books.
Is it really ‘tougherer’?
It probably is, yes. Toyota tests all its new models on a specialised test track near Durban where mules are driven 24/7 on the roughest of tracks until something breaks. The engineers then check what caused the breakage and create a more robust solution. The vehicle then heads back onto the track again.
That’s one reason why Toyota has a history of churning out robust vehicles with a solid reputation for reliability. We have no reason to suspect that this new powertrain will be anything but bulletproof.
Is it the luxuriousest bakkie?
Nope, it’s not. But the interior represents the biggest leap forward in our opinion, and it’s all good news. Leather upholstery may be an optional extra, but everything else is included as standard on Raider models such as this. We like what Toyota has done with the main touchscreen interface and the fancy TFT screen in the instrument binnacle (although the ‘stick-on’ look of the screen was a contentious issue).
All this new stuff elevates the Hilux into the realm of the recently facelifted Ford Ranger and VW Amarok. But the most welcome change is the elevated level of comfort, quality and refinement. Touch points are covered in high-quality materials and insulation levels are top notch, which, in combination with an innovative interior, makes for the most car-like driving experience ever in a Hilux.
Can I get another bakkie for cheaperer?
Yes, but only if you’re willing to buy a double cab that’s a generation behind, or one that comes from China. As it currently stands, the Hilux 2.8-litre 4×4 manual in Raider specification is cheaper than comparable offerings of the Ford Ranger, Mazda BT-50 and Isuzu KB.
C’mon guys, there must be something else wrong with it?
It was tough, but we eventually found some issues we could live without. The first, and most annoying, is the fact that the hooter is linked to the remote lock/unlock function on the key fob.
Press the button to unlock and the Hilux replies with two very loud honks. It is so loud that, in a parking lot, it’s all a bit embarrassing. It has likely been put in place to let the owner know that his car is actually locked, what with remote jamming so common these days, but it is rather annoying, to be honest. If we bought a Hilux, we’d rip that wire out on the dealership floor.
Is it the bestest bakkie?
If you’re in the market for a solid all-rounder, the new Hilux is your best bet. It’s as rugged as its predecessors, but with the added luxury and refinement you’d expect in a modern double-cab bakkie. It gives you the best of both worlds and for that reason, it’s our current favourite bakkie.
Engine Four-cylinder turbocharged diesel
Power 130kW @ 3 400rpm
Torque 420Nm @ 1 400rpm
Gearbox Six-speed manual transmission
4×4 Drivetrain Part-time
4×4 Driving aids Shift on the fly 4×4,
traction control, hill descent control,
Ground clearance (claimed): 286mm
Average fuel consumption 9.1/100km
Maintenance plan 5-year/90 000km
Price R529 900