Good news for Fortuner fans is not the facelift with the usual more blingy front and rear, and the revised facia but the introduction of brand new entry-level version that will have all rivals heaving a sigh of despair (or reasonable facsimile). It’s a 2,5 D-4D, rear wheel drive at only R325 500. This produces 106 kW as opposed to the retained big brother 3,0 D-4D with its 120 kW but the maximum torque output is the same at 343 N.m although the max. torque plateau is narrower at 1 600 to 2 800r/min compared with the 3,0 diesel’s 1 400 to 3 400 r/min. How does it feel? On the launch in real Toyota off-roading countryside in Zambia the engine did feel to missing a bit of the 3,0 diesels oomph and there was turbo-lag below about 1 800 r/min. Using the gears properly (five-speed manual) this was quickly overcome.
A plus was not one vehicle stall, something that happens a lot with diesels.There is enough flywheel inertia off idle to allow very smooth pull-aways.
We were late in Lusaka thanks to an aborted landing attempt followed by a one-hour delay to clear passport control, so we were told to “move it” or we’d miss the boat. So we had to do some low flying. This felt more like taking part in a rally – for the first time – as we were not accustomed to the potholes suddenly appearing, many painted black to hide the fact that they were there. Add to this trucks that only know one speed – brick on the pedal – and goats and cows roaming around with said trucks suddenly swerving to the right (to avoid another pothole) just as you were about to overtake made it quite… interesting. Then for good measure some mountain passes added to the rally theme. And the conclusion of all this is to say that not only does this vehicle perform well off road, but it is a surprisingly snappy handler around the bends and making split second lane change maneuvers. And this with 265/65 section high-profile tyres!
This model does not come with all the fancy features – that is left to the other models – the 3,0 D-4D and the 4,0-litre V6 petrol ( 4×2 or 4×4 and five-speed manual or four-speed auto on diesel and five-speed auto on the petrol). You get what you need – manual air-con, normal audio plus USB/aux and bluetooth, cloth seats, two airbags, steering wheel controls, seven seats and air-con for rear passengers. Also five alloy wheels, ABS, independent suspension all round, an increased tow rating of 1 715 kg, a rear diff- lock, a five-year/90 000 km service plan and three-year/ 100 000 km warranty. All vehicles are micro-dotted as an anti-theft feature. Service intervals are still 10 000 km as Toyota believes in conservatism and want to protect their legendary long-term reliability status.
As for those who want more gears and stuff you don’t really need? It’s you choice but, when you are using these SUVs for the designed purpose, you soon realise that basic luxuries are great, but after that you need dependability, parts and service back-up, good price, good resale and enough power with excellent handling, not too many extras that can all give trouble when pushed. It’s impossible to go wrong with this one and if some find that boring – so be it.