fortuner is moving on

TOUGH TRAVELLER: The Toyota Fortuner tames the Namib Desert. PHOTO: ROB TILL
TOUGH TRAVELLER: The Toyota Fortuner tames the Namib Desert. PHOTO: ROB TILL

Bruce Fraser

Bruce Fraser

Since its launch in 2006, the Toyota Fortuner has quickly established itself as the leading seller in the popular Sports Utility segment.

I've always admired the vehicle from afar for its attractive, sporty design, but often wondered how it would perform in places far less hospitable than Sandton's roads.

I soon found out when an invitation to test the new-generation Fortuner in the sand dunes of Namibia recently arrived. The guys at Toyota could have taken the easy way out and launched it at some plush golf estate in the Cape, but opted for an environment less friendly.

After deflating the tyres a couple of bars to ensure better grip, it was time for some serious sand driving in the Namib Desert.

The dunes are an amazing creation of nature - constantly changing as the cool winds sweep in off the Atlantic Ocean.

Our 4x4 trail was carefully marked out and opting for low-range we tackled terrain that environmentalists estimate has been around for 54 million years.

After we had had enough of the sand, it was a short journey up the B2 highway destined for an area called Moon Landscape. As you can guess by the name, the terrain resembles that of the moon - totally barren, undulating landscape which is home to very little.

Again we subjected the vehicle to a number of punishing tests.

So what's new this time around with the Fortuner?

Changes include the introduction of two new colours - Pacific blue and charcoal grey - a revised front and rear headlamp design and the alloy wheels are now 17 inches.

On the safety front, the number of airbags has increased to six and ABS brakes are standard on certain models. For those who like to travel long distances, a bonus is that the fuel tank has been increased from 65 litres to 80litres.

Interior-wise, wood panel inserts add a bit of class, and the leather seats come in a darker shade to help hide those unwanted stains. The air-con system can also now be operated individually by passengers sitting in the rear.

The Fortuner is priced between R327100 and R387200.