On a recent trip to Japan, Calvin Fisher managed to find himself in the utilitarian cabin of Toyota’s imminent new workhorse touted as the successor of the Stallion.
Meet the Toyota IMV-0 Concept – or Innovative Multi-purpose Vehicle Zero. As in, zero chance what you’re looking at isn’t the second coming of the Toyota Stallion. As for the Concept bit, is it still a concept car if I’ve driven the thing? Because I have.
Toyota Stallion Fast Facts
- Price: TBA
- Engine: 2,4-litre, four-cylinder, turbodiesel
- Transmission: 5-speed manual
- Power: 110 kW @ 3 400 r/min
- Torque: 400 N.m @ 1 600 r/min
- Driven wheels: rear
- Payload: 1 000 kg
Like the IMV-0 itself, there’s a lot to unpack here.
The experience after arriving at Toyota’s test and development facility just a few kilometres from Mount Fuji went the way these super secretive things usually go. We were given colour-coded adhesive stickers to cover the camera lenses of our smartphones, were detailed on the heavy weight of an embargo on information and then delivered the mandatory list of rules to observe. Formalities aside, we were ushered towards a line-up of sleek-looking test vehicles from Toyota and Lexus, each showcasing mind-blowing technology – some of which is covered in the February issue of CAR Magazine. What stunned my South African eyes, though, was a familiar shape: a loveable box that had days earlier been revealed at the Japan Mobility Show. One that instantly evoked memories of Toyota’s beloved Stallion.
That original F40 Stallion utility vehicle was released on South African roads in 1986 with its underpinnings spawning a passenger version dubbed the Venture. For almost three decades it would be a beloved staple that moved goods and people, mobilising business as a pickup, operating as school buses in van form and everything in between. All before the term “lifestyle bakkie” was ever invented. Fast forward to today, and the passenger market couldn’t be more different, though crucially – no less in need of a robust, affordable multi-purpose utility vehicle.
You’re Next, Champ
You may have noticed a few international publications referring to the IMV-0 Concept as the “Hilux Champ.” While they might be correct, that would be ignoring the rich history of not only the Stallion but, if we’re being honest, another Japanese manufacturer that has a rich legacy using the same name on its own long-discontinued half-ton pickup. Here, we’re gambling on the 2024 Toyota Stallion moniker.
Regardless, as a package this new Toyota is immediately likeable. First, there are those Lego brick-like aesthetics that echo the large squared-off full-sized Toyota bakkies such as the US-based Tundra.
It looks tough, with Toyota’s marketing department taking advantage of this by churning out several versions of the vehicle at the Motor Show. This involved an array of variations kitted out as TRD-inspired race trucks, a few lifestyle versions and then of course, a fleet of mobile coffee shops, delivery vans and more. The potential really feels unlimited here and starts the moment you see one in the metal, its configurable flat deck offering a veritable blank canvas.
Our test car was fitted with shallow sides and a matching tailgate, so a very familiar and versatile profile. As I clambered aboard, I noted a comfortable cabin covered in hardy plastic surfaces and a continuing trend towards tough geometric shapes for its design and execution. Instruments are sufficient, making no bold strides towards aspirations of a lifestyle vehicle, and focusing instead on all the gear you’d require in your medium-sized utility. There are plenty of hidey-holes and storage bins throughout that should prove useful for the daily operation of a commercial vehicle.
Speaking of gear – there are five forward ones here in addition to reverse, mirroring the typical five-speed manual transmission you’d encounter in an entry-level Hilux, paired in this case with the familiar 2,4-litre GD-6 turbodiesel engine. Combustion-powered after all, despite the early reports that the IMV-0 would incorporate an electric drivetrain.
Unwinding the clutch results in a familiar diesel pull away, agricultural of grunt, torquey of shunt – and so nothing particularly ground-breaking to report here. What followed was a few “hot” laps of a banked oval in Toyota’s new delivery truck. It accelerated well enough, changed lanes exactly as you’d expect and when I stood on the middle pedal, there were no surprises.
As South Africans, we tend to romanticize our childhoods, many of us having grown up to some degree in the back of a Stallion or Venture. Those were days when these types of machines had bulletproof reliability and oodles of character. There’s no reason to believe it won’t be the same for the families of hard-working South Africans once this new workhorse rolls around.
This part is speculation
The way I see it, the IMV-0 will do exactly what it says on the tin. That is, to be a relatively affordable, modular and easily adaptable utility vehicle set to appeal to a broad spectrum of South African businesses. I imagine the IMV-0 will also be around R40 000 cheaper than its closest commercial Hilux counterpart, which wouldn’t be able to offer the same degree of modularity.
Think of the IMV-0 as a box, or better yet a blank page – most likely with a common drivetrain to keep costs down. That it looks like a fully grown Tonka Toy will only help endear itself to a truck-loving Mzansi while building on Toyota’s legacy of rugged, versatile mobility.