New range a pleasure to navigate

Bruce Fraser

Bruce Fraser

When Toyota first launched its Hilux range to South Africans in 1979, no one could have imagined how advanced things would be nearly 30 years on.

Back then there were no such things as ABS brakes, power steering, CD/MP3 shuttle, let alone airbags and central locking.

Fast forward to November 2008 and the new generation Hilux boasts all the above goodies plus a whole host more.

Currently the leading motor manufacturer in South Africa in terms of sales with their Hilux range, Toyota obviously didn't want to make too many changes to a successful product, and have stuck to their winning formula - rugged good looks powered by a gutsy motor yet offering the comforts one expects from any modern-day motor vehicle.

For the media launch in the Breede River, outside Worcester in Western Cape, last week, we had on offer a variety of the new 3.0-litre diesel 4x2 with a 4-speed automatic gearbox and the 3.0-litre diesel 4x4, also with an automatic gearbox.

Engaging low range, we inched up the steep inclines like a mountain goat, eventually reaching a height of 2000 metres in some of the most spectacular scenery imaginable.

The mountain range dates back millions of years and apart from the track we took, nothing has changed from those prehistoric times.

Sheer rock faces hundreds of metres high, pock-marked through the forces of nature, provides a backdrop unique to this region. Fynbos covers the dry, dark soil and as we wound our way up we were lucky to come across some buck and baboons.

The Hilux will take you places you would never imagine a motor vehicle could manage - and in comfort.

The Hilux segment now comprises 18 variants with the introduction of two new diesel automatics.

This gives bakkie lovers a choice of 10 single cabs, ranging from R145800 to R283600, and eight double cabs, ranging from R269600 to R356200.

The new generation Hilux has revised headlamps and bumpers, a "bee-sting" antenna and an increase in wheel size on certain models.

Unfortunately, many Hilux owners will never venture off-road, which is a pity considering its capabilities.

To understand its true potential some 4x4 driving is a must.