THIS year marks the revamping and reintroduction of two powerhouses to South African popular culture. The first is Toyota’s refurbished Land Cruiser 70 Series; the second is John McClane’s (Die Hard series, for those who don’t know) triumphant return to the big screen.
There are a few striking similarities between the two. Both, for example, are far from good looking. The LC70 was styled using a brick as inspiration and John isn’t looking too good after several severe beatings from numerous baddies.
Not that it matters, really. When you need a tough job done properly, appearances are the last thing to consider. Things like sturdiness and reliability and a can-do attitude are far more important. John McClane illustrates my point perfectly in the first Die Hard film. Instead of reasoning with a nasty German terrorist, he merely throws him off the side of the Nakatomi Plaza – quick, easy and elegant. The LC70, I suspect, will do something along the same lines if ever it met one of its main competitors.
Toyotas are known for being tough and reliable, but the Land Cruiser 70 takes it to a new level. Throughout its lifetime, it’s become a symbol of elegant simplicity and unmatched ruggedness. No wonder the farmers and off-road enthusiasts of South Africa love it so much.
For 2013, Toyota’s made a few minor changes across the range. The 76 station wagon, for example, now comes standard with a 130-litre fuel tank and a spare-wheel cover. The revised 79 single cab features colour-coded and chromed exterior trim, front fog lamps and colour-matched over fenders. A 180-litre combined fuel capacity completes the 79 package. Rear disc brakes and an ABS system are now standard across the range. While we’re on the subject of safety, it’s worth mentioning that driver and front passenger airbags are standard as well.
The most important change to the line-up is the inclusion of a double-cab, which Toyota claims combines the carrying capacity of a pick-up with the flexibility of a double cab. Two engines are currently available – a 4.2-litre diesel and a 4.0-litre V6. The diesel delivers a healthy 96kW and 285Nm of torque, while the petrol impresses even more with 170kW and 360Nm of torque.
On the inside there’s enough space for five adult passengers. Basic luxuries like power steering, remote locking, tilt and telescopic steering adjustment, air conditioning, electric windows, electric mirrors and a 12V accessory connector are standard fitment. The necessities are joined by a few additional luxuries such as SatNav, a stereo system and a USB port.
These upgrades serve to make the LC70 easier to live with on a day-to-day basis, but it’s still a gigantic car with a huge turning circle. You’d have to be bonkers to use one as your daily drive in Johannesburg, but once again, it doesn’t really matter.
The LC70 was built to wander off the beaten track. It laughs in the face of danger and then simply idles over it.
All models come standard with a differential lock, five-speed manual gearbox and four-wheel-drive system with a low-range transfer box. Unlike many of its competitors, the LC70 still has that old-school mechanic feel. You can feel and hear the major components working underneath you, which gives it an endearing quality.
When the going gets tough, you tend to forget how good the LC70 is. It may not be lovely to behold, or as modern and luxurious as some other off-roaders, but when it comes to toughness and off-road ability, its credentials remain unmatched.
All new Land Cruiser 70 Series models come with Toyota’s comprehensive three-year/100 000km warranty.