Toyota Hilux SR5 turbo diesel
When Toyota launched the new Hilux last year it was on rugged farmland, to illustrate the off road abilities
of the vehicle. As you would expect, the diesel 4X4 clambered over obstacles that would give a Mountain
Goat vertigo, and the 108kW petrol powered Hilux wasn't far behind.
But the one problem is that several months later Ford and Mazda launched the Courier/Bounty clones,
with super powerful turbo diesel engines, making their Utes the fastest on road, and in all likelihood the
fastest to move out of the showroom. Now, people in the know will understand that off road, ultimate power
won't always win over traction and ground clearance, features which the Hilux has in abundance. But
Toyota is never satisfied with second best, so say hello to the new Hilux Turbo diesel, contender for the
dubious title of fastest on road off roader.
I won't leave you in suspense. The turbo Hilux is so fast it's almost scary. A combination of huge amounts
of low rpm torque and virtually no weight on the rear axle make for a hilarious driving experience. Wet
weather, however, would probably make the Hilux something of a joke.
Hit the throttle from rest, and as soon as the rev counter hits 2000rpm a request for maximum acceleration
is received by the engine room. The power band resides in the narrow confines of 2000 ? 3500rpm, and
within these boundaries the acceleration is pure and bountiful. Think warm hatch and you will get the idea.
The Turbo Hilux is so quick that other road users are surprised when the Toyota passes them. You tend to
drive the 4X4 more like a car, and thanks to the wide 255/70 R15 tyres you can do that, at least in the dry.
In terms of maximum speed I can verify through extensive estimation, rather than a petulant Ford Falcon
driver, that acceleration stops just over 160km/h.
How fast is the turbo Hilux? Scary fast.
Ride quality in town is marginal, to say the best. You feel every imperfection in the road, thanks to
suspension that's set up to handle low speed, huge bumps, rather than the little pimples you get on urban
roads. On the open road the situation is far worse. High speed exacerbate the effect of typical New
Zealand roads, producing a very choppy ride, and combined with the vague steering, a feel that I can only
compare to piloting a small powerboat up a flooded river.
That's not to say it isn't fun. Any car with an excess of power over its handling abilities is bound to produce
a smile. Over distances of more than 100km that smile begins to look a little forced though, and after a day
of persuading the Hilux to take a direction different from directly straight ahead you may need
professional medical help.
It's at this stage that I should warn you that the Hilux, and all the utes of its ilk, are not SUVs. They are
not designed to be comfortable grand tourers with an occasional off road excursion. They are true four
wheel drives spruced up for consumption by the general public. Drive any one of them for any length of
time and you can feel the rural underpinnings. Off road, the Hilux is damn near unbeatable. On road, a two
year old Hyundai Lantra would have it for breakfast.
Toyota graces the Hilux with a turbo in only SR5 guise, which means crew cab, carpet, air conditioning,
and power windows. It's all window dressing on an agricultural product, which may seem intriguing on a
short test drive, but buyers should make sure that the Hilux is what they really want. Take the Hilux on an
extended drive, one that includes rough open road tarmac. If you can live with the bucking and shuddering
then this is the car for you
But even so, there is still a definite pleasure to be in control of a vehicle, which defies normal motoring
ethics, something that exceeds by a substantial margin the role generally accepted by society. It's like
being the bad boy, the school bully you always wanted to be. It's great for the moment, but weighs heavily
The Toyota Hilux is the most civilised off road Ute, but even here, in it's most powerful form you feel
frustrated that its on road manners (read ride) could be better, and nothing illustrates better the split
between the ultra serious off roader from the semi civilised on/off road SUV. Off road, buy a Hilux. Stay on
road, buy a RAV4, or even better, get a Subaru Forester.
Specifiactions - Toyota Hilux SR5 Turbo Diesel
1982cc in line four, turbocharged diesel
85kW @ 3600rpm
295Nm @ 2400rpm
Tilt adjustable steering wheel