Will people like the new one? Will it be up to standard when compared to the competitors? Will the new car be value for money? Well, when the latest Fortuner 2.4GD-6 arrived at our office, I grabbed the keys from Sean so that I can answer these three questions:
1: Will people like it?
I don’t see why not. The new Toyota Fortuner brings with it an array of new features and technologies that the previous model could only dream about. However, let me address the looks first. The Fortuner has been designed to stand out in urban settings as well as withstand tough outdoor conditions. It boasts sharp, sculpted exterior lines and slender headlamps. I particularly like the bold characteristic line which runs along the side, across the doors between the flared front and rear fenders, it gives some refinement in the midst of toughness. What is more noticeable with regards to the exterior, apart from the car’s ground clearance, is that Toyota is taking more and more design ideas from its luxury sibling, Lexus. For example, the Fortuner features black rear pillars and a pronounced rear spoiler, the effect of which is a floating roof that gives the vehicle a dynamically striking stance even when it’s stationary.
2: Will it be up to standard, compared to the competitors?
With the arrival of the Ford Everest and its pretty impressive interior, Toyota had to make a drastic plan to improve on the car’s interior as the previous model, like the Hilux on which it was based, felt a little utilitarian. This new model seems to have corrected that issue. For starters, the new Hilux has a very good interior, so having that as a base on which to improve on is a plus. The Fortuner features the same dashboard layout and comes with some added pizzazz. A leather-covered glove box with Fortuner insignia tends to add to the luxury feel. Wood trim and privacy glass also give the Fortuner a more upmarket feel.
The model I drove was the entry level model and even in basic spec it was really good. To be honest I didn’t miss the colour touch-screen multimedia system as found on the higher spec model. I did however miss the colour screen found in the instrument cluster. The car I drove also didn’t have leather seats, instead it had durable material seats which featured a neat pattern.
Space inside the car is as one would expect… ample! The rear passengers get their own air-conditioning system for added comfort as well as decent head and leg room. I will admit, I’m still not a fan of the fact that the sixth and seventh seat hang from the side of the boot as before. Surely they could have made a plan to design them into the floor of the boot? Nevertheless, there is space for seven people.
3: Will the new car be value for money?
Times are tough and customers want the best value for their money that they can get. The Fortuner seems to have them covered. The model that I drove retails for around R436 400. Now, the Fortuner is based on the Hilux platform so it is, as before, reliable and rugged. However, the new Hilux has been reworked to offer a more compliant ride quality and the Fortuner even more so. I was hugely impressed with the ride quality, which is soft and comfortable and the engine - although the entry level - is impressive.
The 2.4 GD-6 produces 110kW and delivers 400Nm of torque. The new six-speed manual gearbox does a good job of getting the power down to the rear wheel. In fact, the car makes such good use of its torque that once in sixth gear you rarely have to change down, on the highway. I also managed to average around 8.6 litres/100km during my time with the car.
I can say the new Fortuner is a huge improvement on the previous model. Yes, the Everest does offer more in terms of optional equipment but that never stopped buyers before and I doubt it will this time. For many buyers, purchasing a Toyota comes down to brand loyalty and the fact that there’s a three-month waiting list at my little dealership, here in Witbank, I reckon that loyalty is pretty strong.