Hail the Hilux!

Hail the Hilux!

The reveal of the new Hilux was the biggest launch in the history of South Africa! Is it just a case of smoke and mirrors, or is the new Hilux really a Seriously Big Deal? CHARLEEN CLARKE was there …

The Hilux sure has come a long way. In its first local guise back in 1969, it was a bit of a block on wheels – powered by a 1,5-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine that pushed out a mighty 57 kW.

A column-shift, four-speed manual gearbox sent the power to the rear wheels. In keeping with its robust characteristics, this short-wheelbase bakkie was built by Hino Motors. It was, after all, designed to be a workhorse. This was not a vehicle for sissies …

Fast forward 47 years and we now have the eighth generation of a bakkie that has sold over 16 million vehicles worldwide (one million of these were sold here in South Africa).

A lot has changed about the Hilux over the years. However, one thing has remained constant: the Hilux is viewed as a trusted old friend, as Calvyn Hamman, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Toyota, noted at the launch: “This is like a party with old friends.” (I assume he was alluding to the vehicle and not the journalists …)

That “friendly” relationship is one of the reasons why the Hilux has been such a sales sensation – both here in South Africa and elsewhere around the world. Add to that the low cost of ownership and the unbreakable nature of the actual bakkie, and it’s really tough to outsell this Toyota (although, impressively, Ford has achieved this with its Ranger from time to time).

The all-new Hilux offers more of the same. Yes, it’s still going to be the same tried-and-tested buddy; a bit like a loyal dog, but one on wheels.

Although, with the vehicle’s new looks, the dog analogy probably is quite unfair. That block-on-wheels styling disappeared decades ago, but it must be said that the latest Hilux really is a good looker.

It’s wider and longer than before, so it looks quite menacing, but the new styling also makes it look more streamlined and, dare I say it, prettier. (Yes I know that that’s akin to calling Chuck Norris “cute”.) On the subject of pretty stuff, I would highly recommend the two new colours: Cosmic Blue and Arizona Red. They’re simply yum.

Of course, the pretty stuff ain’t going to sell the new Hilux to fleet operators. So what will? There are trillions of new features … far too many to mention here … but I think that the new suspension is definitely worth mentioning. The Hilux utilises a double-wishbone front suspension design and leaf-spring type suspension with twin shock absorbers in the rear.

The length of the leaf spring has been increased by 100 mm to 1 400 mm, suppressing road-surface vibration. The attachment point of the rear suspension has been moved to the front of the spring. Moving this attachment point 100 mm forwards and lowering it by 25 mm contributes to enhanced steering stability.

In addition, the newcomer has larger-diameter shock absorbers mounted in a new location for increased durability, stability and more effective control of small vibrations. As a result, the ride comfort is vastly improved.

The new interior – distinctly car-like – and the competitive pricing (which starts at R228 900) are well worth noting, too.

Our Hilux buddy just got a whole lot better!

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