Social media has gone into a tizz and it’s almost like the country is at war. Well the bakkie part of the country anyway.
Why? Definitely not because Benoni’s very own Oscar-winning actress Charlize Theron is telling the world that she thinks the Afrikaans language is dying, and there are only about 44 people still speaking it.
It has to do with the fact that Toyota has launched their Hilux GR Sport two weeks before VW launches their new Amarok and three weeks before the new Ford Ranger is finally rolled out locally.
Across the invisible lines of the internet that put us keyboard warriors in the same ring together, the insults flow back and forth. Loyal bakkie owners take each other on blindly while armed with a fair amount of misinformation and froth at the mouth in anticipation of these new bakkies.
Hottest production Toyota Hilux yet
In this R800 000 to easy over R1-million plus, niche more leisure meets performance part of what was once a work horse segment, the bragging rights here come from which bakkie has more power and torque. And of course, which one is faster.
The Toyota Hilux GR Sport feels very much like the GR model it looks like with power up from 150 kW to 165 kW and torque up from 500 Nm to 550 Nm. This comes courtesy of an uprated ECU telling the 2.8-litre turbodiesel powerplant what to do when it counts.
This uprated ECU is also responsible for the revised mapping of the six-speed automatic and lock-up control to ensure this extra power is put to good use. I abandoned the aluminium paddle shifters that have now been added for those that want to control everything themselves. I rather opted to leave the Hilux GR Sport in drive and just toggle between Power and Eco mode, and let the ECU do its work when I wanted to get up and get going in a hurry.
You also get new monotube shock absorbers that are paired with stiffer coil springs running on 265/65 R17 rubber that are said to be there to offer improved high-speed stability and handling response. And I can tell you that after The Citizen Motoring drove a good few hundred kilometres on the roads in and around Mpumalanga, the handling is certainly firmer and sharper than before. And maybe even a bit too firm for somebody who drives dirt roads would want every day.
On the inside you get a new instrument cluster, with red needles and unique gauge face. A bespoke, perforated leather-trim steering wheel with red contrast stitching and GR badging that are joined by sporty aluminium pedals with rubber inserts, along with GR branded push-start button.
Carbon-fibre trim replaces the brushed finish in Toyota Hilux Legend models, which in turn is complemented once again by red accent trim.
A performance car, bakkie, boat or bicycle is nothing unless there is some Alcantara going on. In the Toyota Hilux GR Sport this obligatory requirement comes courtesy of race inspired front seats with said Alcantara inserts, GR badging on the headrests, red accent panels plus power adjustment for the driver.
Toyota don’t do highly technical and complicated interiors and as such the familiar touchscreen infotainment system is retained. It features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality, along with steering wheel switch integration, Bluetooth and USB inputs.
All the bells and whistles
You get keyless entry, retractable and power-adjustable side mirrors, automatic headlights, auto door lock, park distance control, reverse camera, dual-zone climate control, air-conditioned upper glove box, multi-information display, one-touch power windows and integrated 220 and 12-volt power outlets.
Plus a new panoramic view monitor, which provides surround camera as well as a bird’s eye view of the vehicle surroundings.
The safety list is comprehensive in that the Toyota Hilux GR Sport is equipped with Toyota Safety Sense, which offers a full suite of active safety aids including adaptive cruise control, lane departure alert and pre-collision system.
These are joined by the obligatory ABS, VSC, EBD, hill-assist control and brake assist systems, plus passive safety aids such as ISOFIX and a full airbag array.
Numbers are not limited on this second-generation Toyota Hilux GR Sport like they were on the limited-edition debut model introduced back in 2019. And now with uprated power and better road manners, this bakkie is the current power king of the four-cylinder ring.
Yes, Ford Ranger and VW’s new 3.0-litre V6 Amarok models will be more powerful, but they will do battle one level up from the Toyota, just as Ford’s crazy 292 kW 3.0-litre twin-turbo petrol V6 Raptor will slug anything off a showroom floor in power and price when it arrives early next year.
Toyota Hilux pricing
GR Sport 2.8 GD-6 4×4 6AT – R865 400
- Price includes a nine-services / 90 000 km service plan and a three-year / 100 000 km warranty.