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The ultimate Toyota Hilux


THE Toyota Hilux has, over its many years of production, become somewhat of a South African icon, just like boerewors, rugby and the word ‘lekker’. The Hilux has endured some tough sales competition from competitors over the past few years however, the mighty Hilux remains South Africa’s top selling bakkie. Don’t believe me? Well few sales figures feature six zeros.

Yes, that’s right; on the 31st of July Toyota South Africa sold its one millionth Hilux to a Pretoria businessman and lover of all-things Toyota, Shabier Aboobaker. Aboobaker is the proud owner of a Single Cab 3.0 D-4D Legend 45 model.

Toyota South Africa has not only experienced great sales figures over the years but it has also experienced some great results on the local motorsport scene. In the South African Cross-Country Championship, formerly known as the SA Off-Road Championship, Toyota has won the last seven manufacturer’s titles on the trot, with the Hilux doing duty in the hands of former champion, Duncan Vos, defending champion, Anthony Taylor and current championship leader, Leeroy Poulter.

In International competition, the Hilux has fared extremely well, too. With former Dakar winner, Giniel de Villiers behind the wheel, the South African-developed and built Hilux attained a third place in its Dakar début in 2012. In 2013 it went one better with a second place, attaining a fourth place in 2014 and another second place in the 2015 edition of the world’s most gruelling motorsport event.

A Hilux named Rex.

To celebrate the significant achievements of the Hilux, Toyota South Africa gave its motorsport guru, Glyn Hall, an almost impossible task; create a racing Hilux that you can take to the shops. After many months of hard and dedicated work the motorsport division unveiled its one-off racing Hilux. Known as the Toyota Hilux Racing Experience (Rex), this unique machine is a celebration of Hilux. Toyota also happened to use a very special Hilux as a base, which I will elaborate on at a later stage.

Rex features the same engine that can be found in the Dakar racing Hilux, a powerful 5.0-litre, eight-cylinder Lexus IS-F engine. With more than 335kW of power available at 6 000rpm, this is most likely one of the most powerful Toyota Hilux bakkies ever built. However, the Hilux Racing Experience is much more than just a Toyota Hilux with a big engine – it is a finely crafted machine that embraces a host of technology used in Toyota SA Motorsport’s Hilux race vehicles.

The engine management system, for instance, has been replaced with a Pectel Cosworth system, making the most of the engine’s direct fuel injection. The sump has been modified to make room for the production Hilux front differential, which has been equipped with a new gear ratio. The rear diff received similar treatment, and the inlet manifold has been modified to Dakar spec, effectively boosting the torque characteristics of the engine.

A new alternator and power steering pump has been fitted, together with a new air conditioning compressor. The entire wiring harness has been upgraded to Dakar spec, a full tubular exhaust system has been installed and modifications made to the transmission’s bell housing, in order to mate the gearbox to the IS-F engine.

The suspension system has also been upgraded to deal with the beastly power under the hood. Rex now features fully adjustable front and rear dampers, and the entire vehicle has been lowered by 50mm over the production version. The steering ratio has been increased for faster movement and large 18x9" wheels have been fitted.

The result is a well-balanced bakkie that offers supreme performance without compromising handling – in essence, a road-going Toyota Hilux injected with motorsport DNA, which offers the driver the very essence of Toyota SA Motorsport’s race vehicles.

Now on to the big question… can you buy one? Unfortunately, no, you can’t. Toyota South Africa reckons that this is a one-off; It is just too complex and time consuming to produce more on order. It will also cost quite a penny, I’m sure. However, as a final goodbye to this specific model range and a nod to the legend that is the Hilux, Toyota has achieved what it set out to achieve. I for one am excited to welcome the all-new Hilux, which should arrive on our shores in February next year.

The specs: REX

Engine:  Lexus IS-F 2UR-GSE
Configuration:   V8
Capacity:  5,000 cc
Management:  Pectel Cosworth, direct fuel injection
Power:  335 kW @ 6,000 rpm
Torque:    600 Nm @ 3,250 – 4,500 rpm
Brakes: Power Brake (SA supplier to Dakar Toyota Hilux vehicles)  
350 mm discs: with billet aluminium 4-piston calipers
Suspension: Fully adjustable front and rear
Ride Height: Lowered by 50 mm
Wheels:  9x18 alloy rims
Exhaust System:  Full tubular exhaust with Dakar spec inlet manifold
Transmission:  Standard Toyota Hilux D-4D
Differentials:  Standard Toyota Hilux D-4D front and rear, new ratios of 4.375
Clutch:   Twin Plate AP Racing
Instrumentation:  AIM Electronic Dash, integrated with Pectel Engine Management System



Article written by Justin Jacobs
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