It’s great to see a brand reacting to customer demand so quickly. I travelled down to Port Elizabeth where we drove to the beautiful Garden Route region of the Western Cape to see how the Japanese brand has expanded its best-selling bakkie and SUV ranges.
Expanded Fortuner range
With around 1 000 unit sales a month, it’s safe to say that South Africans love the Fortuner, but as with everything, there’s room for improvement and the customers and indeed many members of the motoring media have spoken.
Toyota has listened and there’s now a 4x4 version of the 2.4-litre GD-6 model, which is also fitted with the increasingly popular six-speed automatic gearbox. The new model benefits from the same features as the two-wheel drive auto version with items such as electric windows, ABS, Trailer Sway Control, leather seats and the same 110kW/400Nm output.
Having driven the newcomer at launch, I feel that this model provides the best compromise within the Fortuner line-up for those seeking off-road ability, fuel economy and the convenience of an automatic gearbox. The other benefit this model provides is in the pricing department where it comes in at R127 500 cheaper than the equivalent 4x4 auto equipped with the 2.8-litre GD-6 motor.
The obvious downside is less power and torque, a lack of LED daytime running lights, a manual air conditioner versus an auto unit, a less impressive infotainment system, fewer speakers, no reverse camera, bi-halogen headlamps versus LED items, 17-inch versus 18-inch alloy wheels and a 2 500kg braked towing capacity versus 3 000kg.
If you can live without these creature comforts, you will still have a capable SUV with 279mm of ground clearance, great approach, break-over and departure angles and over R100 000 to spend on accessories.
The rest of the Fortuner range benefits from updates too with added side and curtain airbags on the mid-range 2.4-and 2.7-litre models, bringing up the airbag count and increasing safety specification. In the upper echelons of the range, we see the addition of LED front fog and driving lamps to the 2.8-and 4.0-litre models, along with a new 220V power socket to power large devices.
One of South Africa’s best-selling vehicles also has one of the largest model line-ups available, which has now been expanded too.
The first new Hilux model comes in the form of the 2.4 GD-6 SRX 4x4 single cab, which is now also available with the six-speed automatic gearbox. Continuing with the single cab range, the same automatic gearbox is also available on the two-and four-wheel drive versions of the 2.8 GD-6 Raider.
Another development is the inclusion of Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Hill Assist Control (HAC) and Trailer Sway Control (TSC) as standard on SRX and Raider single cab models.
The other Hilux range to receive new variants is the 2.8 GD-6 Raider Xtra Cab. This consists of an automatic gearbox on two-and-four-wheel drive models, with power and torque remaining unchanged at 130kW/450Nm. The Raider models also benefit from the inclusion of 18-inch alloy wheels along with LED head and fog lights as well as a 220V power socket on double cab models.
The addition of more automatic variants into the local line-up of two large volume product lines is perhaps more important than we’d care to think. It shows that consumers in the mainstream are shifting, if you’ll pardon the badly placed pun, at a faster rate to automatic versions of popular products than ever before.
As for the products themselves, Toyota has both the resources and expertise to continue updating its model range periodically to suit customer demand, which should keep them on top of the game.
Service plan and warranty
All Hilux and Fortuner models come with a five-year/90 000km service plan as well as a three-year/100 000km warranty as standard.
2.4 GD-6 4x4 AT - R506 000
SC 2.4 GD-6 SRX 4x4 AT - R436 800
SC 2.8 GD-6 RB Raider AT - R435 700
SC 2.8 GD-6 Raider 4x4 AT - R497 400
Xtra Cab 2.8 GD-6 RB Raider AT - R462 200
Xtra Cab 2.8 GD-6 Raider 4x4 AT - R525 800