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Admittedly, I’m not a big fan of double-cab bakkies, but after the recent launch of the new Hilux range at the Klipbokkop Mountain Resort, I have a new respect for the best-selling pickup, now in its 40th year on the SA market.
The facelift doesn’t differentiate much from the previous Hilux as any quick glance will tell, but a closer look confirms that the new model sports a redesigned grille, new front bumper, bee-sting aerial, and now standard on double-cab Raiders – side steps.
Making our way from Cape Town International Airport, motoring scribes drove the new Hiluxes to Klipbokkop via the N2, then the R321 and eventually the R43. Our journey was completed in a Hilux 3,0 D-4d equipped with the new four-speed auto box. On the open road the Hilux is very stable, though I noted it lazily picks up momentum while the slush box fumbles for the right ratio when you plant your right foot from too low down the rev range.
Another thing I didn’t like was the vibration from the door panels when I pumped up the volume of my preferred genre of music. I would think that on the range topping diesel model, there would be a better performing sound system than featured on lesser models, though overall quality seems to be of the finest in the segment.
Upon arriving at Klipbokkop, we were informed that the Hiluxes would be put through three very different situations during the next few hours. Soon enough, we were off on a 4X2 route on generally well-maintained gravel roads that wound through the area surrounding the resort. The Hiluxes handled this with ease, even unexpected humps and slight changes in road conditions failed to unsettle the bakkies.
Later that afternoon we were off on the 4×4 training course up the mountainous surrounds of the resort and though initially shocked at the steep angles and loose rocks I was faced with, low range 4×4 with differential lock on handled those no problem. The next morning we moved out a little further east to nearby sand dunes that, despite recent rainfall in that region, had softened tremendously in the previous day’s 37-degree Celsius heat.
After an entire morning spent in the sun navigating my way around endless dunes, up seemingly-impossible gradients and through powdery soft surface with no complaint from the Hilux I was punishing, I have come to one conclusion – the Hilux is definitely beyond tough. Another thing that impressed me on the day was the ease with which the four-speed auto transmission adapted to the hostile environment. I don’t recall any incident where the driver of a bakkie equipped with an auto complained about the suitability of the transmission to the occasion. On the manual gearbox, that long throw while shifting seriously hampers momentum.
The Hilux might not be styled to everyone’s tastes but I can’t claim that its incapable of doing what Toyota says it can, though I doubt many will come close to experiencing what the Hilux is really capable of. Sad when you take into account the strong sales figures too …