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TOYOTA HILUX GR-SPORT

Having listened to your complaints concerning the first iteration of the Hilux GR, Toyota has unleashed a second take which boasts performance and suspension upgrades.

Introducing the ultimate bakkie for adventure seekers and thrill-seekers alike: the Toyota Hilux GR-Sport. This fan favorite, hailing from Toyota City, Japan, has received some serious upgrades from Gazoo Racing (GR) that will leave you amazed.

GR AESTHETIC UPGRADES

Are you ready to turn heads on the road? The new Hilux GR-Sport boasts a bold front end with a large black grille and a carbon-fibre insert adorned with chrome TOYOTA lettering and a GR logo. The LED headlights and air ducts have been specially designed with integrated fog lamps, adding to the bakkie’s rugged and sporty look. The wider fenders, graphite-coloured side-steps, black mirror caps and door handles, and rear styling bar with GR branding give the bakkie a sleek and powerful look. And for those who want to take it to the next level, decals are available in Glacier White, Attitude Black, Arizona Red, and Graphite Grey. Plus, the 17” wheels wrapped in taller tires are perfect for off-road adventures.

A GR-INSPIRED CABIN

Step inside the Hilux GR-Sport and be wowed by the premium finishes and GR touches that adorn the cabin. Similar to the Legend model, the cabin comes with dual-zone climate control, park distance control, automatic headlights, keyless entry, infotainment with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and more. The bespoke perforated-leather steering wheel with red contrast stitching and aluminium paddles, new instrument cluster with unique gauge face, metallic bezels, and red needles, and powered racing-inspired seat with Alcantara inserts, red trim, and GR branding on the headrest, make this bakkie a cut above the rest. Plus, the cabin also features red trim accents, carbon fibre inlays, and a panoramic view monitor, making it the perfect vehicle for off-road or tight parking lots.

POWERTRAIN AND SUSPENSION UPGRADES

The Hilux GR-Sport is not just a pretty face, it also packs a punch under the hood. The 2.8-litre turbo-diesel unit produces 165 kW and 550 Nm, thanks to an ECU remap and a revised six-speed automatic transmission. And with a top speed of 175 km/h, this bakkie is sure to provide an exhilarating ride. The monotube shock absorbers and stiffer coil springs also enhance the handling and high-speed stability, making it a blast to drive on any surface.

WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE?

With our drive taking place around Mpumalanga and Limpopo, we had an excellent opportunity to test the hot Hilux on all manner of surfaces, and off-road in the Kapama game reserve in Hoedspruit. The first thing to mention is the power delivery. By pressing the centre column-mounted ‘Power’ button, the GR-S comes to life. The extra motivation is immediately noticeable, with the remapped transmission also coming into its own, balancing refinement and urgent shifts. Although signalling its performance intent with aluminium pedals pilfered from the Fortuner, I was content with letting the transmission handle the business by itself, as manually shifting exposes sluggish upshifts that detract from the overall enjoyment of the drive. The suspension upgrades presented a ‘give and take’ scenario. On the one hand, the enhancements bless the bakkie with a more assuring steering input response, making it feel nimbler than its physique suggests. In addition, you will note the enhanced stability at highway speeds and the controlled body roll around fast bends. On the other hand, the stiffer springs compromise driving comfort somewhat, although the Hilux rides significantly smoother than others in the segment.

LAST WORD

Although a milestone in the development of the Hilux, the first iteration of the GR Hilux could have been more convincing with more power, and its bright red and black decals weren’t exactly to everyone’s taste. Now, with the second bite of the cherry, Toyota has given us a bakkie to truly lust after. Stylish yet subtly purposeful, the new GR Hilux is a significant step up from the standard Hilux, making it a desirable special edition bakkie. As impressive as it is, however, it will have to keep an eye out for the new Ranger and Amarok, which recently also launched in Mzansi.

Report by BRYAN KAYAVHU & Images © TOYOTA SOUTH AFRICA

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